Bespoke lighting company Terence Woodgate Lighting raised over £195,000 with the support of 155 investors at the end of 2014. They've recently announced the the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) are now stocking one of their lights, so we caught up with two of the founding members, Terence Woodgate and Donna Skuse, to see how the business has progressed in the last three years.
For those who don’t know, could you tell us about Terence Woodgate?
(TW) The brand Terence Woodgate is the culmination of a long career designing lighting and furniture for other companies. I could see that LED technology was opening up some exciting and interesting opportunities for lighting design. The idea to start my own brand, where I could be involved with every aspect of the product from conception to point of sale, was also very attractive. The brand launched in early 2014, and in the first few months we held a pop-up event to show buyers from our main target stores prototypes of the first product collection. Feedback was incredibly positive and gave us the confidence to go into mass production. From that starting point, we’ve released further products and are now selling through the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Where does the inspiration come from to create such beautiful lighting products?
(TW) Design is a mixture of technology and art. Both technology and art are very inspirational. Technology like solid state lighting plays a significant role at the moment, as it allows one to create new forms and juxtapositions with a wide array of materials. But my true influence is art, I am always studying existing compositions and seeking new creations.
What has the investment you received in your Crowdcube funding round from 2014 helped you achieve to date?
(DS) The immediate benefit of the Crowdcube round was providing the funds for a new product collection. Cash flow is always a challenge when you’re developing products, as you may be paying for tooling and deposits towards mass production several months ahead of receiving the physical stock to sell. The injection of funds from the Crowdcube raise allowed us to move into production with our Core collection, gave us working capital, and allowed us to promote the brand, such as with a stand at Clerkenwell Design Week.
You’ve recently announced the renowned MoMA as a stockist, can you tell us more about this?
(TW) We’re very excited that the MoMA Design Store is now stocking our Solid Table Light (pictured above). It’s a real endorsement and of course a great opportunity to showcase the brand to a diverse audience – people from all over the world visit the MoMA Design Stores in New York. Customers can also buy online and through a print catalogue. Up to this point we’ve not explored the US market, as electrical testing requirements are different to those in the UK, which has been our focus. The Solid Table Light is the first product we’ve developed which is suitable across all markets, and this will be our approach for all new products moving forward. We really hope that having our Solid Table Light for sale in the MoMA Design Store will help us as we approach the vast US and Canadian markets in the coming months.
How is your business performing against your projections in 2014 - have you hit any challenges along the way or changed direction?
(DS) We’ve not changed direction but we’ve certainly had challenges along the way. We design, develop and manufacture our products, and the biggest problem we’ve had to date is finding the right manufacturing partners to work with. It’s key to our brand that our products are high quality, and that’s something we won’t compromise on. Finding manufacturers who share our attention to detail has taken considerable time and effort. We’ve had hiccups along the way but we’re confident in the relationships we’ve now established. We’re not where we’d projected to be at this stage but of course are working hard to regain lost ground. There are currently three new product ranges in our pipeline and we’re constantly increasing the proportion of our sales from overseas markets, so we’re very optimistic for the future.
Other than the financial backing, have there been any additional benefits of being backed by a crowd of investors?
(DS) Having a crowd of investors means you have an engaged group of brand ambassadors which can only be a benefit. We try to keep shareholders updated via a quarterly newsletter and by sharing our news on social media, and it’s encouraging when we see them sharing this with their own networks.
What are your plans for the future of Terence Woodgate?
(DS) We have three new product collections in the pipeline at the moment, so we’re aiming to launch one of those in the next 4 months and another in Spring 2018. Amending our existing ranges so they are suitable for America is another key aim, so we can offer our full catalogue to that market. We already have a distributor for Scandinavian markets and a sales agent in Spain, so we’re actively looking at other partnerships to expand our reach in Europe. We’ll also soon start inviting other designers to design a product under the Terence Woodgate brand.
Finally, if you could recommend one product from your collection, what would this be?
(TW) Of course I’d have to say our latest product! We just launched a small version of our Solid Table Light, and have produced a version in dark green marble which is a new material for us to use. We had a great reaction to the regular size of the Solid Table Light when it launched in 2016 and recently updated it to improve performance. I’m very happy with the design, technical details and production and am looking forward to seeing it in stores.
To follow Terence Woodgate Lighting's progress or get in touch with the team to find out more, you can check out their website here.