As you may already know, Ruth McAllister and her small business Quincy Lampshades won our inaugural Total Page Makeover contest.
Over the last week our design team, headed by Leo, has been hard at work on Ruth’s new page—striving to meet her wishes and build her a sleek new Facebook page that better showcases her smart, young business.
But before we unveil the dramatic improvements, we want our readers to know a little bit more about Ruth and how Quincy Lampshades came to be.
The Beginnings of a Career
“No. I was brought up in small town (Ashburton) in the beautiful Devonshire countryside. After local schooling followed by A-Levels in Exeter I earned a degree in English and Religion from Bath Spa University. But I originally wanted to be a writer or journalist, but I was terrible at it and got the sack. My skills are in publishing, as an editor.”
So how did you go from wannabe journalist to lampshade maker? I know becoming a mom had something to do with it, but how did you even come up with such an unusual idea?
“Honestly, watching Kirstie Allsopp making her own lampshade on her BBC series Handmade Home gave me an idea of what to do with all my wallpaper sample books languishing under the stairs. Wallpaper turned out to be no good, but I quickly discovered the brilliance of modern quilting cottons for making lampshades.”
So as you embarked on this scary new venture, what were your realistic goals?
“To see if money could be made from lampshades and to give people a fresh and original alternative to high street beige! To ease myself back into the world of work after giving up my career in publishing after the birth of my first child.”
The Ups and Downs
“One positive that helped me through the get go is that my attention to detail. It is a brilliant skill to have in the tedious process of making of lampshades. Plus, previous online publishing experience gave me confidence and skills to market online. And I was encouraged by the fact that people loved the lampshades and were willing to buy them. But there were negatives too of course. For one, buying fabrics that weren’t suitable for lampshades – but lessons learned!
- “Working with people I have often admired”
- “Being retweeted by Kirstie Allsopp and having a huge spike in blog hits”
- “Chatting with customers who love the lampshades because they’re so beautiful and bold”
- “Buying the wrong PVC and having to send it back”
- “Sorting out shipping materials”
- “Having to abandon an outside market due to blustery winds”
Diving into Social Media
So why did you originally feel compelled to use social media as a tool for your small business?
“I had no intentions of using Social Media. I was using Facebook on a social basis, but had absolutely no idea how these tools were used for marketing and, indeed, what tools were out there. But I quickly realized their potential and became reasonably proficient in them over a short period of time. Twitter is a goldmine of information and leads, whilst Facebook is like getting daily cuddles. I love my WordPress blog for getting feedback on who’s looking at what and for sharing my progress and ideas. These platforms take a lot of time to service well, but the resulting business and information that you get back is brilliant – and it’s all free!”
It’s not all exactly a piece of pie though right? Have you found the process of delving into social media and Facebook to be difficult, frustrating, or
“Truthfully, I haven’t found it difficult. There is so much information out there giving guidance on how to use these tools and make the most of them. I must admit that Facebook is the platform that I find most confusing when looking for answers on how to use it more effectively. Facebook’s Help is so dense and, well, unhelpful!”
What marketing goals have you set for yourself?
“I would like my Facebook Likes to rise steadily with more interaction from Likers on my posts and for hits on my blog to stay at a steady 100 views a day.”
Prior to the makeover, how did you hope for your Facebook presence to improve?
“I want my friends and family to understand how just simply ‘Liking’ my Quincy Lampshades page will help me out. I think that FB is still seen by many as being purely social. If only they knew that they would be helping my business out by just ‘Liking’ it – all their friends would become aware of what I do, just by that initial person Liking it! But I think people don’t want ‘Business’ stuff in their Newsfeed. Sometimes, I ‘Like’ a business, then ‘Hide all’ if I feel it’s not relevant.”
Final Fun Fact
“My Grandad used to make lampshades back in the 50s – I only found this out after deciding to set up Quincy!”
See the Total Makeover Results
Tune in Sunday evening for the first installment of our new series “Sunday Social Media Showcases.” We will unveil Ruth’s brand new Facebook page in all its glory.
Sign Up for Your Makeover Now
It’s not too late for your business to win! A new Total Page Makeover contest is already live and accepting applicants. Visit our “Total Page Makeover” Tab here (accessible from our Facebook page) for the chance to have your small business’s Facebook presence undergo a complete redesign. The current contest runs through September 30th.