As I sit and type up this blogpost, outside the sky is threatening rain…and so it seems appropriate to welcome onto the blog today the gorgeous ray of sunshine that is Klair and her fab company, Love Umbrellas! Hi Klair!
Hi! My name is Klair Ward, I’m 33, and 2013 has been an amazing journey for me. I got married in August to my best friend Stephen. We have a little boy Charlie who is nearly 3 and the light of our lives. I live in a lovely old chapel in Rawtenstall where it rains a lot! I love Thai food, Sailor Jerrys rum, all things sparkly, lunching and shopping!
What made you start up your business?
In the summer of 2011, I was bridesmaid for my best friend, Elaine, and we were looking for some special umbrellas in case the weather wasn’t at its best on her big day. There were simply none on the market that appealed so I designed and created some! Before I knew it Love Umbrellas was born and the orders started ‘flooding’ in. I had been made redundant in April 2011 when my son was only 5 months old. My background is in retail and I had always wanted to be my own boss so this was now the perfect opportunity. Although Love Umbrellas happened by accident, it made sense to pursue as a career. Within 2 years I have gone from being made redundant and wondering what kind of job would offer security and flexibility with a newborn baby, to creating my own job security, which allows me to not miss out on any of my little boy, Charlie’s “first’s”
When choosing stock/styles/colours of umbrellas for your website, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends or is it a bit of all of these?
It’s a bit of all of these to be honest. I subscribe to lots and lots of magazines for inspiration and use social media for customer feedback and react to this. I will sometimes design and create something that I personally really like and post a picture to facebook to get some feedback, if the customers love it as much as I do then I add it to the website as a new design. Our limited edition owl designs came about because the owl trend is still massive and is popular with our very young to older customers. It would seem a lot of ladies love bling and sparkle so our sparkly brollies are always very popular.
You have umbrella hire service too – apart from brides, I guess a lot of the umbrellas are hired for photoshoots etc. Any photoshoots/unusual uses/famous weddings or stories of that nature involving your umbrellas you can tell us about?
We have been featured on lots of lovely bridal blogs and one of our favourite recent ones has to be that of a civil partnership shoot at Mitton Hall, it was a wonderful rainbow themed shoot. We have also had the pleasure of supporting lots of fashion shows and last year were involved in Liverpool Fashion Live and also designed and created unique bespoke umbrellas for Desperate Scousewives new shop. The heart shaped umbrellas we sell were featured on ITV’s This Morning. We have lots of celebrity fans from Amy Childs to Sian Lloyd. Last week we attending our first celebrity ‘gifting’ event in London that was an exciting opportunity to gift celebs with our umbrellas!
What’s the most unusual or strange umbrella design request you’ve had?
To make an umbrella into a mini skirt for a catwalk show! We get LOTS of unusual requests, scottie dogs, lips and a full on heavy mental tribute umbrella is on the cards for an upcoming wedding!
To date, what has been your most popular umbrella ordered from your website?
The Love To Dream umbrella – it’s simple, but romantic, and perfect for wedding photographs…not far behind is the skull-tastic umbrellas though!
I love your limited edition owl umbrellas – what’s your favourite umbrella in your collection right now?
I think it would have to be the Kaleidoscope Sparkle umbrella – I just can’t stop twirling when I’m using it, and it certainly grabs ‘umbrella envy’ stares!
For the blushing brides & for other special occasions, what has been the most popular colour for umbrellas in recent seasons?
Ivory is usually the choice of colour for our lovely brides and we really love to see our bridal brollies in action. Check out our Facebook page for lots of our customers showing off their gorgeous brollies including lots of sparkly bridal ones.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I tend to keep my day to day dress comfortable so I can sit on the floor designing and creating umbrellas whilst entertaining a 2.5 year old! Working from home does means I have the luxury of working in my PJs from time to time too! I love getting dressed up for special occasions and events and love a bit of sparkle. I always carry a new Love Umbrella design with me when I’m out and about – perfect for marketing and photo opportunities!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I am a big believer in shopping local and supporting other women in business. I love discovering new boutiques and online shops through Facebook.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’ve just seen some amazing boots today actually, so new that they haven’t been uploaded to the shop’s website yet! They are a local boutique called Love Shoos.
Boots or shoes?
Hmm…a tough one, boots for cold wintery days, funky Converse for during the day in the summer – whether it matches or clashes, they’re mega comfy & I love them!
Links you would like to share:
Thank you Klair – your umbrellas are delightful whatever the weather and if you are having a winter wedding, check out Klair’s designs you won’t be disappointed & you’ll soon be singing “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”
Photo Credits: The photographs have been published with kind permission from Klair Ward