Design Divas: Heather Maskill from A Little Furniture Shop

What’s your name? Heather Maskill

How many children and old are they? 2 boys 9 and 4 years old

What is the name of your business?

A Little Furniture Shop. It is called this because that’s exactly what it is. You can’t get a great deal in but it’s cost effective and in the centre of Shrewsbury amongst other independents.

 What is your business and when did you start it?

Our business is a re-upholstery business. We buy old sofas, chairs, chaises, dining chairs and anything unusual which is usually pre-1940. Everything is taken off the furniture, frame repaired if required, then it is loving re-upholstered in either a fabric we choose, or a fabric a customer chooses for a bespoke piece. The business started in May 2001. I met my partner Mark who was an upholsterer who had always wanted to open a retail shop selling his re-upholstered furniture. I was working in sales at the time and was fed up with the constant travelling and working long hours. (I work more hours now than ever before!) When a shop in Shrewsbury became available, I gave up my job, and we opened the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. We sold almost all of the furniture which was for sale on the day we opened! We have a small amount of furniture for sale ready to be delivered in the shop, and other furniture which has yet to be upholstered. Customers can visit our website and workshop, see the furniture and then choose whatever fabric they would like it upholstered in to customise a piece. We also make footstools, any size, and fabric, with a choice of shape, legs and finish.

 What was the inspiration behind your business?

I love the shapes and character of old furniture. I think about where it may have come from, what room it may have been in and think about the stories it could tell if it piece could speak! I like that fact that our customers love the furniture too. They can see the quality of craftsmanship which goes into each piece. I love the fact that each piece is individual which inspires me to continue to search for new pieces when one has been sold. I love it when people pass the shop and do a double take or cross the road to see what we do. I get inspiration from some of the fabric companies we use. I currently love Moons fabrics which are 100% wool and British made.

 Can you share 3 positive aspects about being a business mum?

I spend more time with my children than I would if I was working for someone else. They come to work with me and have done since they were 2 weeks old. They get to visit places we probably would never have taken them when we have to deliver. For example we delivered a chair to SW London a few weeks ago then took them to Greenwich. They have been lucky to visit some beautiful places.

I am always home at a reasonable time so we all sit down together and eat at teatime which for me is important. I also get to read stories and put them to bed every night.

I can take time off when it is convenient for me and my family. I don’t have to give anyone 3 months’ notice or make sure no one else is on holiday at the same time.

Any downsides?

Living in a rural area is difficult. We also don’t have any family local so the children come everywhere with us. When one is ill, they come into work and it is difficult not to feel guilty.

How do you keep motivated?

I have two children to feed which is motivation enough. If the business does not succeed, I have to go and work for someone which will mean I will miss an awful lot. It would break my heart to be honest.

 Would you change anything you’ve done in building and developing your business?

I think the bespoke footstools should have been brought in sooner. We have been selling more over the last couple of years and they have been very popular in these difficult times. They are a cost effective way of updating a room without spending a fortune.

 What tips would you give anyone wanting to start their own design/craft/interiors business?

Be prepared to work long hours, believe in yourself and don’t expect to make a fortune.

Please add any website / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Pinterest etc links as well as your contact details if you wish to.

www.littlefurnitureshop.co.uk

info@littlefurnitureshop.co.uk

1A Wyle cop, Shrewsbury SY1 1UT Tel: 01743 352102

Twitter @vintagechairs and @FunkyFootstools

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/A.Little.Furniture.Shop

Thank you for sharing this us Heather. Your footstools are lovely!

3 Comments

  1. April 3, 2012 / 10:22 am

    Wow Heather, what a fantastic business idea and an inspiring business story. It’s great to know that traditional techniques are still being practiced, and what a great way to re-use old furniture. I love the look of the footstools too, they are beautiful.

  2. March 22, 2013 / 4:34 am

    the design looks so awesome! Thank you for sharing this!

  3. May 10, 2013 / 11:28 am

    Great business idea. Good luck with everything.

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