This week, instead of our usual 'Unwrapped' feature, we are offering something a little bit different.
As you all know, we at Independent Worthing are all about supporting small, local, independent businesses - and are constantly trying to think of new and interesting ways we can do this. It struck us that one way we could do this was by shining a light (a 'spotlight' if you will) on a particular profession, and letting everyone know what is involved 'behind the scenes'.
We are kicking off with curtain makers. The simple reason for this is - I wanted some curtains made. I got a great response asking for recommendations on the group, and it got me thinking. I don't really know much about curtain making, except that it isn't the cheap option. But - having waited 7 years to renovate my bedroom, which previously had very dated decor (we're talking artex, built in mirrored wardrobes, textured wallpaper - the works) - I really wanted it to be how I wanted it.
So...after contacting the curtain makers recommended to me on my post in Independent Worthing, and getting some great responses and quotes, I decided to combine my (selfish) interest with a little detective work for a 'Spotlight' piece, and share what I had learned with you all!
All of the curtain makers I spoke to are listed at the bottom - and without their enthusiastic co-operation I couldn't have done it - so huge thanks to them all.
Here is what I learned:
- Curtain makers are very caring people. Believe it or not, I was massively touched by the way they spoke about their customers.
- They have an undeniable passion to give people what they want - allowing them time, space, advice, patience and care; sometimes even listening to how their customers came to need new curtains (downsizing after bereavement for example), and offering a hand to hold both literally and metaphorically. Since the pandemic hit, these makers have actually missed being able to visit potential customers in their homes, chat over a cup of tea, and connect. Having spent hours talking to them all over the phone, I can vouch for how sociable and personable curtain makers are!
- Independent / small business curtain makers offer so much more than a big company can. If you break down the hours spent by a curtain maker getting a job done, compared with an on-line brand of similar price - you get so much more for your money! They visit you at home, measure up for you, advise you, show you samples, often offer advice about other aspects of your decorating projects whilst they are there, explore with you the feel you want to achieve and steer you in the right direction to achieve it, hand-make the curtains and ensure you are happy with the results. Not to mention the years of skill and experience they often bring with them through all of this. Compare that with measuring your own window (hopefully correctly), choosing a fabric on-line or at least by yourself (and hopefully getting that right too) then paying and waiting for the product to arrive...and, if they aren't quite right - having limited options for sorting it out (customer service helpline anyone?!)
- The busiest times of year for a curtain maker are spring (when the clocks change and it suddenly becomes painfully obvious that your current curtains don't block out the light!) and in the run up to Christmas. Curtain makers often rely on other types of work (e.g. making wedding dresses, alterations, interior design etc.) to keep them busy at other times in the year.
- Curtain makers rely largely on word of mouth for their customers. This means their workmanship and reputation is critical to their survival.
- Curtain makers take huge pride in what they do - this shone through in every conversation I had. Each maker was very clear that they not only want their customers to be happy with their work; they also want them to love their homes. Making curtains isn't just a way to earn a living, it's a passion and a love for making and creating something wonderful. And that is one of the things you can't buy from a big corporate entity.
- Spending out on getting curtains made for your home is a big decision. After all, you can buy such cheap curtains 'off the rack' these days. But what you will get for your money is a different product entirely. One that can make your home and your heart sing, and something that will last much longer too. And with what we know about the environment and the textile industry - with the growing emphasis on 'slow fashion' - spending more on quality items that will last and buying less of them - choosing to buy a beautifully handmade pair of curtains (or a blind) is not only an ethical choice but an eco-friendly one too. And they can be altered, mended, the linings replaced - far more successfully than their more poorly and cheaply made counterparts.
- Curtain makers are approachable and happy to help people on a variety of budgets: they can and will offer alterations, add blackout linings and give advice, whatever your needs might be. And they are great to talk to!
We hope you found this little 'Spotlight' piece interesting; if you have any suggestions for other professions/businesses you would like to know more about, or if you are part of a profession or business and think you would like a 'Spotlight' shone on you - please comment, DM or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
With thanks and admiration:
Kim Hayman at Applemoon Interiors
Sue Taghioff at Design Interiors
Karen Rainford at Dressing Rooms of West Sussex
Sharon Ellis at Sharon Ellis Sews