Penny Bruce studied a Curtain and Soft furnishing Diploma course with The National Design Academy, and is now the Director of her own and very successful soft furnishings business,Denton Drapes. All furnishings are made from high quality fabrics and hand-sewn by a team of skilled workers, who use traditional craft skills based in a Bedfordshire workroom.
We caught up with Penny to find out how she achieved her great success. In her interview, she reveals what inspired her love for interior design, how she balanced study and a busy working life and top tips for other who want to follow suit. This is definitely one to have with a cuppa and a Digestive… get engrossed!
I’m passionate about soft furnishings. I’ve always been interested in fabrics and when I gave up my career in fashion I turned to curtain making and discovered this amazing industry
The NDA soft furnishing course was then only one I could find specifically aimed at professional curtain makers
The course was intense covering lots of subjects in the day and requiring extra work in the evenings. The sewing was second nature to me but I found the two weeks physically exhausting but inspirational
I was over the moon. I felt like I could tackle anything and couldn’t wait to get started on building my business
I had already set up the business but the NDA course gave me the springboard to really establish it as a going concern. Curtain makers who are starting out should take every opportunity they can to study their craft and learn from others especially about business matters.
I was and am totally committed to learning everything I can about soft furnishings. Because I love the subject so much, concentration and the avoidance of distraction was easy
It’s the ability to transform a room by the creative use of soft furnishings and colour. When you get it right it is almost magical.
I didn’t do distance learning but went to Nottingham for the course. For soft furnishings I think it is important to be completely hands-on and engaged.
You must thoroughly understand the market sector you are targeting; You must follow-up every lead with tenacity; and you must pay really close attention to your pricing , capturing all of your costs and making sure that you are earning an acceptable margin.
I really love my job and I just want to keep learning and growing the business. Interest in beautiful soft furnishings is really high in both UK and the USA and I want Denton Drapes’ reputation for high quality products and services to keep growing while I continue to enjoy every working day.