MY COUNTRY BUSINESS
Lighting designer, Emily Butterill
Emily Butterill creates tailormade lighting solutions from her workshop near Harrogate
‘Lighting is in my blood,’ says north yorkshire-based emily butterill.
‘my parents owned a commercial lighting company and my husband mike also owns one. i guess it was my destiny. i love how lighting can be used in so many ways to transform a space.’ but emily’s path to owning her own lighting business took a few turns along the way.
As a teenager, emily loved music and drama and began a performing arts degree with music, but didn’t complete it. Her father, Philip Appleyard, ran commercial lighting company trac, but when emily left university, she didn’t want to work for the family business. Her father persuaded her to work at trac for the summer, which emily did and loved, so she stayed permanently.
emily gained a wealth of experience working in every aspect of the business – she did telesales, production, purchasing and ran the sales office. then her father became ill and the lighting industry started to change, moving from high intensity discharge lighting to LED. ‘in the commercial area, it was very hard to change to LED, and difficult as a british manufacturer,’ says emily.
Philip, who was the driving force behind trac, didn’t want to move to overseas suppliers and the business started to fail, going into administration in september
2013. sadly, Philip died three months later. ‘We didn’t want to continue the business without him,’ says emily.
emily then faced a dilemma, career-wise. ‘i had three children to support – oscar, now 16, Jacob, now 12, and William, now seven. i’ve always worked and i didn’t know what to do. i was in turmoil, too, as Dad had died.’ so in 2014, emily embarked on an access course at university and was accepted to do a midwifery degree.
before she started, however, she went to the Home Fair at the birmingham nec. ‘i’ve always loved interiors and renovated houses. i had an epiphany moment at the fair – i was hooked on lighting and i knew about its components. Lighting was what i knew. i rang up mike and said i wanted to start my own lighting business. i had learnt so much while working for my dad and also when the business went into administration.
‘i began contacting local suppliers such as wood turners and metal pressers in summer 2015 and then started Glow Lighting. the company’s name came about because in my early years working in the commercial lighting industry, we always called
‘Being my own Boss is definitely the Best thing! i can work around the children, which is really important, and take an afternoon off if i need to’
lightbulbs lamps, not bulbs. My colleague always used to say “bulbs grow, lamps glow”, and it stuck with me. I love the idea of our lighting glowing inside our clients’ homes.’
Emily used a local company, Bronco, to create her website, but she didn’t have an online shop at first. ‘I sold through notonthehighstreet.com, which I still do. I wanted to create good-quality British lighting – that’s the business’s USP. I tailormake lighting to people’s taste and if
I can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can.’
Emily shares a workshop with Mike. ‘We work well alongside each other,’ she says.
‘I started getting orders through from September 2015. I decided I wanted to enjoy the business without feeling under too much pressure, so I slowly built it up. I love doing bespoke work, as it has helped me develop new products and move forward. I got some of my products into Cox & Cox and into the emerging designers’ section at Redbrick Mill, near Batley. We have had brilliant support from local businesses and stockists such as The Light House in Harrogate and The Lite Spot in Barnsley. People also just come and knock on our workshop door. I work closely with an electrical contractor so we can carry out installations, too.’
The business has grown organically, with Emily starting an online shop in December 2015. ‘I haven’t really done Facebook or Google ads, as I wanted a natural progression,’ she says. Such has been her success that she has taken on a colleague, Ned Yates, to help her. ‘We design the lighting and bring in components – most of which are British made, as my ethos is made in Britain. We offer a bespoke and a standard range, both of which are made to order and can be turned around in a few days.’
The creative element is one of the things that Emily loves most about the business. ‘I visit people and give them ideas about their space and how to accentuate it.
Lighting is a great way to set the tone of a room. For instance, in a kitchen you have various types of lighting: there’s task lighting, which is workable light, such as downlights used for cooking areas. Accent lighting is used to highlight specific features, such as artwork, and ambient lighting creates a mood or atmosphere in a room. Using pendant lights with warm bulbs is lovely in a space for eating or entertaining. Having your lighting on dimmers is another way to get the mood just right.
‘I love being my own boss. I can work around the children, which is really important. I can work on a Sunday if
I need to and take a Wednesday afternoon off for the children.’
Emily designing a lamp in her workshop