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Covid19 Success Stories: Ciaran Dance Design

Each month we’ll be featuring a local business that has diversified or added to their service(s) due to Covid19 in order to survive the pandemic.  If you have a story that you would like to share with the business community, please contact us:


I trained as an Architect and attended Newcastle University from 1992-1999 after which time I moved to London. I sat my professional exams at London’s South Bank University and became a qualified ARB and RIBA registered chartered architect in 2001 a profession I went on to work in for 20 years – primarily producing School accommodation. But throughout my first career I had an overriding passion and natural flair for interiors.

Over the years whilst renovating my own home I became frustrated by the selection of homewares on the market, the majority of which didn’t appeal to my taste; so when faced with the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy early in 2021, I decided the time had come to follow my dream of creating my own homewares and interior styling brand.

The first product, in what I plan will become a larger selection of homewares, has been a range of lampshades. This is something I first started making at an introductory course at a Women’s Institute Group in SE London and it strangely ignited a passion in me.

I’ve always been drawn to colour and vibrant patterns, and my range reflects that. They are designed and hand-made by myself, generally using the African Ankara fabrics which are a central element of the character of my neighbourhood. I buy the fabrics in a 6 yard run which means all my lampshades are limited editions as I can only get between 10 and 20 shades (depending on shade size) from one fabric piece. This means buyers can be sure they will have something that as well as reflecting their style is not produced for a mass market.

My USP is that my double-sided shades are also designed to give complementary yet contrasting aesthetics when on and off, to contribute to the atmosphere of a room in both states.

At the point when a friend introduced me to the work of Start-Up Croydon I was producing my stock but had no experience of running a business and little knowledge of how to get going. A particular concern for me was marketing and generating sales having moved from a career in a service industry to a retail one.

By enrolling in the StartUp & Go Bootcamp I gained an overall understanding of the key practical aspects of running a business – from finances and financing to marketing and sales. However, most importantly, by learning how to be emotionally intelligent and what the mind-set of an entrepreneur needs to be, it gave me the confidence to go for it!

I launched my Etsy shop and Instagram account early in May and I have a website in development. I’m also working on a Facebook page and have set myself targets to sell in some local independent stores.

Etsy shop

Instagram: ciarandancedesign

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