This week we take time to talk to Lampshades by WeirdandGilly, who have recently moved into the craft corner at Emporia with their iconic map lampshades. Producing a wide variety of geographically themed lampshades and other gifty items, they also like to make use of our funky fabrics to cover some of their shades. From their best seller map fairy lights to their huge standard lampshades in unusual prints, the ladies talk about what inspires them to create and how they came up with their business name.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are Janine (Weird) Frost and Nicola (Gilly) Gillham and we make lampshades. During our making sessions our children were often present and one of them joked that we should call ourselves WeirdandGilly from the song Ziggy Stardust, which references his mum’s surnames, and his mum’s friends weirdness! The name stuck and serves as a tribute to David Bowie fans, as they are the ones that ‘get it’!
How did you get into crafting?
About four years ago we both had part time jobs in the same playgroup, which conveniently combined looking after our own similarly aged young children with earning some money. As the children grew up we knew it was time to move on from the world of pre-school children. A lifelong interest in handmade items, and the desire to have unique items in our homes, lead to learning the technique of lampshade making. We both agreed that the thrill of producing a handmade professional looking item was addictive.
Who and what inspires you to create?
We are mainly inspired by pattern and colour which we then visualise onto a lampshade, it is very much driven by our own personal taste, with the occasional wacky idea thrown in.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Lush Designs of Greenwich for their characteristic hand drawn imagery transferred on to lampshades; Cream Cornwall, whose work is inspired by the colours of sea, sky and land, who produce lampshades and other products using these designs; Sarah Moore, winner of The Great Interior Design Challenge and Presenter of BBC1′s Money for Nothing, for her creativity and enthusiasm for upcycling.
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
We went forth to a local craft fair on Father’s Day in a working men’s club in a fairly remote area, naively worried that we didn’t have enough stock. We had plenty of complimentary comments, but absolutely no sales. Needless to say we were not deterred and convinced ourselves that we had ‘launched’ in the wrong location on the wrong day! Thankfully we were right, and this initial event turned out to be our only ‘zero’ sales experience.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Ruler, tape measure, pencil, enthusiasm and patience!
Name three of your most popular designs.
Our map lampshades – made from original vintage maps – are one of our most popular products, and in a bid to use the leftover map scraps, we have other products including strings of mini lampshade fairy lights, coasters, map bunting and brooches.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
We have recently embarked on an exciting new venture, together with four other traders from Faversham Market -we have signed up to trade in a hut in Whitstable Harbour Market. It is looking likely that we will be trading from May 2016 so do come and pay us a visit next time you are in Whitstable.
What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
We are in the process of developing more of our popular map products, and planning to do some fabric printing and then using this to make some truly unique lampshades.