Design Divas: Ruth McAllister from Quincy Lampshades

I came across Ruth and her lampshades a little while ago and LOVED them! Her business is very new so please show lots of love and support and give her a Twitter and Facebook follow. I think one of her Lampshades would make a fab Mother’s Day Gift – what do you think?

What’s your name? Ruth McAllister

 How many children and old are they? I have two boys: Thomas (6) and Robert (4).

 What is the name of your business? Quincy Lampshades

What is your business and when did you start it?

I make my own range of beautiful handmade lampshades and started business in January 2011. I also run lampshade-making workshops, make bespoke shades to order and supply interior design shops and surface pattern designers.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I caught Kirstie Allsopp making a lampshade on her show ‘Homemade Home’ and wanted to have a go myself using some gorgeous wallpaper that had been languishing untouched in my cupboard. The wallpaper was no good, so I looked around for alternatives and stumbled upon some seriously gorgeous modern quilting cottons that I instantly fell for. I’d been shopping around for shades for my own home for a while but everything in the shops seemed so plain, so beige, and so mediocre. Why not make lampshades that were highly patterned, bold and ballsy? Why settle for lampshades that were ‘close enough’ when I could make lampshades that oozed individuality and exclusivity?

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

There is so much support to be found in other business mums – we all know what it’s like to have limited hours and juggle family demands – so we allow each other flexibility and always offer encouragement.

My world shrunk after giving up my career in publishing to look after the children; now it is billowing out again as I embrace business, social networking, customers, clients and suppliers. I relish having something else to think about outside of household chores and child care.

I work from home so I can always do the school run and down tools in time to make the dinner.

Any downsides?

Constant interruptions from the children whilst I’m working drives me nuts! Sometimes, I won’t start a job because I know that I don’t have the space or the time to give it my full attention, even though the job desperately needs doing. I always feel guilty when the children are watching telly and I’m trying to work, or when I have to repeatedly palm them off with ‘in a minute’ just to get a bit of time to respond to an email.

How do you keep motivated?

Charting the ever-increasing blog and shop hits, Facebook statistics and Twitter interactions gives me loads of motivation. My customers and clients always compliment my work – I take great care to keep their kind words close to my heart. Watching the delight on people’s faces when they spot the hugely colourful array of lampshades at fairs and markets is so good – I know then that I’m getting it right. Achieving my profit target is my biggest motivation – Quincy has to contribute to the family finances. And I dream of having my own studio in which to work.

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

I should have got a grip on the figures much earlier than I did. But, saying that, accurately costing materials, waste and time can only be done after a lot of experience in lampshade making.

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

Use social media as much as you can: be prepared to learn how to use it, use what you learn from it and be yourself on it. Keep your eyes and ears open, nurture serendipity and say no when something doesn’t seem quite right. Design, make and sell only what you love – trust in the fact that there will be other people out there that love it too.

Thanks for sharing Ruth, I love your final paragraph!


Check out more fabulous lampshades at the Quincy Lampshades website.

You can follow Quincy Lampshades on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Ruth also has her own Quincy Lampshades blog too!

For anything further you can email Ruth at


Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.