Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Designer Style: Surrey Life

I had the great pleasure and compliment of being asked to be in Surrey Life's monthly feature; Designer Style with my furniture painting :)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Small Occasional Table Upcycle Project

After finding this little gem in my local Salvation Army Shop i couldn't wait to get started on giving it a new look. I decided to go for a very simple style using 'Duck Egg' paint and a super high gloss finish.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Recent Commission - Distressed Dressing Table

After trudging the 4x4 through the snow, over a temporary bridge and past some very picturess countryside I arrived at my latest commission in Weybridge.

My Client had a lovely large dressing table with three mirrors that she had grown bored with and called me in to to give it a creamy french distressed look.

Using 'Grey Obsession' and 'Country Cream' paints I distressed her peice and polished it off with a jacobean wood polish.

Distressed Dressign table in Surrey

Saturday, 12 January 2013

'Sara has a seat at the top table' - Sara Prebble Design in this weeks Surrey Informer - page 12

Very excited to have a full page in this weeks Walton & Weybridge Surrey Informer Newspaper. 

Make a coffee, cut a slice of cake and turn to page 12!

For those outside of Surrey read the full interview here: 

      1.     What does your business do?

Sara Prebble Design is my furniture design and restoration business in leafy Hersham Village, Surrey. I take old, tired furniture and give it a new look to suit the current style of French Shabby Chic and gustavian distressed look. Using various different colour schemes to match in with a room’s decor, I transform each piece with a unique, fresh, current and revitalised style for any home.

2. How many people do you employ?

I’m an independent furniture restorer. It’s just me.

3. What does your shop/business bring to your town?

A bespoke service offering the opportunity to breathe new life into old pieces of furniture in an environmentally friendly way.

4. What makes your business unique?

Every piece I transform is unique. Every customer’s home and style is different and they get a new love for their old furniture and they can help design the new look with me, making their piece completely unique to them and their home. It doesn’t have to be furniture either, Frames, Candle holders, basically anything wooden can be upcycled in this style.

5. What type of businesses would you like to see brought to your town?

An Art & Crafts Centre/Marketplace to showcase designers in Surrey would be a great space. There is a lot of design and craft talent in Surrey.

6. How has your business changed since you started?

The style and trends change but the techniques stay the same, I have quickly learnt that when you think you have seen every style of furniture, something surprises you.
In the future I am looking into holding workshops, people can come and have a go at doing the techniques themselves and leave the day with something they are proud of.

7. What's the best thing about owning your own business?

The creative freedom and the customer relationships I make along the way. I work with people to create/restore something they imagined for their homes and I get to meet some great people doing it.

8. How has your business been affected by the recession?

Times are hard for all businesses but if anything it has benefitted, it’s a lot more cost effective to reinvent a coffee table than to buy a new one.

9. How is the business likely to evolve over the next decade?

In the future there will be less quality pieces to work with because of a trend for easy to put together furniture. But trends change and the great thing about reinventing furniture is you can do it again and again.

10. Why have you chosen to base your business in Hersham, Surrey?

It’s as simple as this is where I live, It’s close to London and near lots of inspiration.

11. What's the strangest customer request you have had to deal with?

No strange requests but the most unique piece I have worked on is an Antique Hostess Trolley that was used as a computer table. It looked great.

12. What has been your proudest moment in business?

Getting my first customer. Building a business is hard work and it’s nice when you start to see it coming together.

13. Are critical reviews important or is word of mouth better?

Word of mouth is better but I recognise the importance of both. As I work with people for their homes I hope when they are happy with their piece, they spread the word.

14. What do you think makes your business stand out from your competitors?

The personal touch. Customers get involved with the restoration of their furniture, we discuss their ideas over a cup of tea.

15. Who is your role model in business?

Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish of They have achieved something very unique, the perfect online market place for crafters. Reading their book is a great motivational booster.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Interesting Insights - Interview with Tia Lush of Who Ate My Crayons

Ambling through my Twitter lists one day I came accross Tia, the name of her business stood out as something i liked, so i clicked. 'Who ate my crayons' is a pretty cool name for a design business. After connecting on Facebook aswell we spent a few weeks winning each others give away competitions, Tia won some of my greetings cards and in turn i won one of her Grammar Postcards which serves as a great reminder at my computer desk for the difference between 'Your' & 'You're' and my favourite win, 5 origami butterflies which take pride of place on my living room wall and i fully accredit my new found love of origami animals to Tia. 
Tia runs a fabulous design agency designing websites, logos, stickers and lots of beautiful papery things attracting the attention of a certain dragon...yes thats right, Who Ate My Crayons is a Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday Winner. Go Tia!
Sara Prebble: How is 2013 going so far? Any new year resolutions?
Tia Lush: The new year is turning into a very busy one with work scheduled in until March already. I do like to be organised, so my resolution would be to maintain order with my workload by continuing to plan ahead.

I would also like to expand my stationery and printed range into a more off-the-shelf collection of designs. I would love to work more with wedding related products and gift-wrap, but the stationery is a supplementary (and fun) part of my core business which is graphic, website design and development.

I have also been approached by other designers/makers with a potential to forming partnerships and working together which is very exciting for me. Cake-pops and stationery?

Sara Prebble: You have been freelance for 12 years now, what advice would you give someone who is just starting out on their own? 
Tia Lush: I would encourage anyone considering starting their own business to go for it! Commit 100%, stay focussed and don't be afraid to adapt your business and skills according to the growing requirements. I would also advise people to seek professional help when you need to do so. Never think that by doing it yourself you are saving time and money, because inevitably it never works out that way.

I believe that if you are truthful and honest in your dealings with clients and suppliers alike,

you will be afforded the same respect back.

Sara Prebble: In January 2011 you were chosen by Theo Paphitis as one of his SBS winners – that must have made your year! How has that helped your business?

Tia Lush: I was thrilled to have been chosen. It was my third attempt and to be honest I think my business name helped a lot in making my tweet stand out from the others.

Being part of Small Business Sunday has been amazing as it had widened by network and I have connected with people and businesses I would not normally come into contact with. I also used my meeting with Theo Paphitis as a news worthy item with the local newspaper and raise some awareness of my business, although that didn't really return any work, it was a opportunity to practise my press release writing skills before having it all edited out by my PR consultant.

Many of my acquaintances via social media have turned into clients through recommendation of others and even more thrilling for me, they have formed into genuine friendships.  Working as a freelance designer can be lonely at times being stuck behind a monitor, but social media allows me to engage and connect directly with others. This interaction keeps me sane. Mostly.

Sara Prebble: As the self-appointed font Police (I have one of your postcards above my desk, loving the idea), how did you come up with it?
Tia Lush: I love typography, it helps when you are a graphic designer I suppose. I have a fantastic font swatch book, but invariably I have my staple of favourite fonts which I tend to return to time and time again.

I often see some shocking use of font especially on printed material. To me 'less is more' when it comes to a successful design. My pet peeve is the inappropriate use of the infamous Comic Sans font.  This font is very popular and used indiscriminately by people who believe that it conveys informality and fun. I have no issue of the use of Comic Sans when the audience it is targeted at is under 5 years of age, but not on the side of a funeral home and not at the Doctor's surgery please.  I suspect this makes me a font snob. 

Sara Prebble: How do you balance your work life with family life?

Tia Lush: I am lucky that I am able to work flexible hours around the children and school times. Obviously there are times when I have to meet deadlines and it's not unusual to find me working into the wee hours. Luckily these occurrences are not frequent, but I have a great support base in terms of family and friends and a very understanding child-minder should I need to call on them. I also schedule work in advance and this allows me a certain amount of balance and control.

Sara Prebble: What is the most popular item in your shop?
Tia Lush: In my little stationery shop, my stickers are the most popular items. I have a fantastic printer which creates the most beautiful stickers. And because I am a perfectionist, my stickers are printed on an individual basis allowing me to check for alignment and colour balance and I think this level of quality control and personal touch makes a big difference and why clients keep re-ordering.

Sara Prebble:  What was your highlight of 2012?

Tia Lush: My baby sister getting married in October and I was the (self) appointed bunting, stationery and cupcakes co-ordinator! All my obsessions rolled into one glorious event.
Sara Prebble: Like me, you love cakes, my all time top cake is a Coffee cake, whats yours?
Tia Lush: I can't possibility discriminate against cakes by having a favourite. I love them all.

For more from Tia and Who Ate My Crayons visit her website, Follow her on Twitter, Like her page on Facebook