Hebe Knowles Design
What is your business name and how did you come up with it?
My business name is Hebe Knowles Design. I have a pretty unusual name so for me using it as my business name seemed like a fairly obvious choice. I added ‘Design’ on the end so that people would understand what my business is and to help give them an idea of what I do. I was also keen to use my name as part of my branding because I really care about what I do, and to me it’s important that my work has my name on it, as a symbol of quality and ownership.
What products do you sell?
A large portion of my business is custom and bespoke homeware i.e. curtains, cushions, blinds etc. However, I also make a number of pre-made stock items that I sell online. These include things such as handbags, rucksacks, coasters, kindle cases and other small items. I also offer a custom service on these items.
What does a typical day look like?
Currently I run my business alongside working a full time job. This means that my day typically consist of work, followed by getting home and doing a bit more work! It’s a good thing that I enjoy what I do! I do have some hobbies though, and also try to go climbing twice a week and dancing once a week.
What hours are you open?
24hr 7 days a week! If you email me or call me I will usually answer you straight away! Unless you happen to call after 9pm then I might be asleep. In terms of client consultation meetings, as I am currently working a full time job as well so I am only able to attend meetings 6pm-9pm weekdays and 10am-4pm on the weekends.
How many people are behind your business? Who are they?
There is only one person behind my business- me! Occasionally my boyfriend will lend a helping hand if he can see that I am particularly busy, but he’s not allowed on the sewing machine yet!
When did you launch?
I have been making and selling things for a while, however my business was only properly launched in October 2017.
What's your favourite part of running your business?
I absolutely love making things and being able to offer people bespoke items for their homes is something I am completely passionate about. Home is where the heart is, and so why should your home be full of off-the-shelf Ikea items like everyone else’s? It shouldn’t! It should be full of fantastic, high quality, unique pieces that are one-offs made especially for you. That way your home can be exactly that- YOURS.
What got you into the business?
I have always enjoyed making things. I learnt to sew at the age of five, and then went on to gain a degree in product design from Brunel University. I also spent a year working for a bespoke, high-end residential company who designed and manufactured fitted furniture for some of the countries most exclusive clients. It was during this time that I became truly passionate about designing and making bespoke homeware. With just me, and my sewing machine, I am able to create completely unique items that people see and use every day and help bring a little joy to their day-to-day lives.
What makes your business unique?
The level of customisation that I offer. If it’s made of fabric, I can make it, and there are very few projects that I would turn down. From curtains to make-up bags, if you want it, I can make it. You can choose your own fabrics, choose the size, dictate the function- the only limit is your imagination.
Have you any previous experience or interest in this field?
I learnt to sew at the age of 5 and have been sewing ever since. Alongside this I have a 2.1 in Product Design, graduating with honours from the best university for design in the UK. I am also a seamstress in my day job.
Do you have a shop/website?
I have an online shop which can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/hebeknowlesdesign
I am also launching a website: www.hebeknowles.com which will go fully live on 1st June this year.
Do you offer specialist services?
Absolutely! I am all custom and bespoke projects. If you have something you’d like making, contact me and I will endeavour to make it a reality for you!
Where are you located? Does your location reflect your product?
I live in Sheffield and aside from my Peak District Coaster range my location doesn’t really reflect in my products. Everything I make and sell is 100% handmade, in the UK, by myself in my workshop in Sheffield.
How do the seasons affect your business?
The seasons don’t really have any effect on my business. If its winter and we’ve had a particularly vicious bout of snow I may struggle to attend client meetings, and in the summer if the sun is shining I may be called away to the beach for a day or two but other than that I am here all year round, making lovely things for your homes.
Do you have any projects coming up?
I have some really exciting new projects coming up! At the moment my business focuses on fabric items, however I have recently invested in some new machinery that will allow me to start working on small woodwork projects. I currently have in the pipeline a couple of lamp designs and gorgeous upholstered footstools that I’m aiming to have available for market by the summer. Obviously, these will be available to be customised as well!
What has been your biggest achievement in your business?
This is a hard one for me to answer. My business is still quite young, and I think that my proudest moment was the first international sale I made.
What has been your biggest hurdle?
There is no one thing that I can pin point as being a ‘hurdle’ as such. I think the hardest thing about running your own business is that at the start, you have to do a lot of work for free. And I mean, A LOT. People will buy your products, but no one is paying you for all the extra time that you have to put in to marketing, finance etc. I have had times where I have gone to meet up with friends and realise that the only thing I have to talk about is my work- they’re all discussing their shopping trip from last weekend, or a holiday they went on and I realise that all I have to talk about are a custom set of coasters I made last night! It can be tough, but I love what I do – and shopping can wait!
What do you think has made your business successful?
Dedication and high quality products. I believe it was Thomas Edison who said “Success is one per cent inspiration and ninety nine per cent perspiration”, and I definitely think that is true. A lot of hard work goes in to running a successful business. But alongside that I pride myself in making really beautiful, unique, high quality products, and providing the best service I can for my customers.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a business?
Having a good idea is key, but once you have your idea you have to be completely dedicated. There is a Chinese proverb that translates as “a man without a smile should not open a shop” and I think that this is also a really important part of starting a business- particularly if it is customer facing. No one is going to buy your products if you don’t appeal to the customers and provide good customer service.
What is your price range of products/services?
I don’t really have an answer for this as the price varies massively. The cheapest product I sell is £3, but a custom set of curtains can cost perhaps £1000 or more. Price is completely dependent on the fabrics and material used, and the size of the project. The more hours it takes, the higher the cost.
What are your popular products?
My most popular off the shelf products are my Peak District Coasters and my Kindle cases. For custom projects, curtains are definitely my most popular.
Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years time I am looking to expand my business into small furniture items including side tables and chairs. I love the idea of a customer being able to order an entirely bespoke room- bespoke cushions, curtains, lampshades and for all of the free-standing furniture pieces to match and be in the same theme as the soft furnishings in the room.
Tell us a little about you the owner?
I graduated university just two years ago and am now working full time as a seamstress. I run my business alongside my full time job. Aside from working I absolutely love being outdoors, which is why I moved to Sheffield! My main hobby is climbing and I love to go out in the peak district climbing.
If you had to describe your business in five words, what would they be?
Quality, unique, bespoke, handmade, personalised
Please help support this small business by following them on their social media!
Website – www.hebeknowles.com (due to launch 1st June 2018)
Facebook - www.facebook.com/HebeKnowlesDesign
Instagram - www.instagram.com/hebeknowlesdesign
Email – email@example.com
Telephone - 07891857480