Mark Kebble speaks to Marie Stacey about the interiors business she launched 30 years ago and why now it’s a real family affair
When did Marie Stacey Interiors launch and what inspired its creation?
I started the business over 30 years ago working from the kitchen table at home making soft furnishings for my family and friends. Being married to a farmer meant there was plenty of space to expand the business which now occupies the old stable block and Dutch barn. Its creation was inspired by a pure love of textiles and design. Prior to the launch I was a nurse and midwife, with a young family, so the need to work flexibly drove me on to turn what was once my hobby into a successful business.
What did you offer in the early days?
At the start, the business was purely fabric-based. I would make all the products myself from curtains and blinds to cushions and upholstery like headboards and chairs. My clients would typically have been residential and local in Essex with word of mouth giving me a steady stream of clients.
How would you say the business has evolved?
Over time the business has grown and changed significantly, from a soft furnishings business into a full-service interior design company. The internet and vast array of choices and styles available has changed the way we work, and the way people shop for their homes, allowing customers to be more ambitious and braver in their choices and us to be more design focused.
Our clients’ requirements vary from collaborating with architects and builders to designing and implementing schemes for residential and commercial projects both large and small. We have our workroom on site together with our extensive library of fabric and wallpaper collections – this way we can design and make everything internally ensuring each job is both bespoke and unique to our client’s requirements.
Is it a real family-run business?
Based at home, we are surrounded by family. One of my sons works alongside my husband running the arable farm, whilst my other son utilises the barns for his catering business. Last year, my daughter Charlotte decided the time was right to leave her corporate job in London and join my business. So now we all see each other every day, something that hasn’t been the case since they were children living at home.
Today, what kind of projects do you take on?
The majority of our work is residential and varies from helping clients with one room to helping them develop an entire property. Our clients are mainly in the South East of the UK, but we often have projects in Europe and beyond. Whether big or small we pride ourselves on helping any client to achieve the best from their property.
So many of our clients are with us for years, working our way through various homes or working on investment or holiday properties. Having such wonderful, loyal clients is what makes the business so special to me.
Would you say Marie Stacey Interiors has a signature look?
What makes us unique is the versatility of our designs. If you look at our Instagram account, you won’t find two projects that look the same, which is quite rare in the interior design world. Tapping into the client’s vision and making their home the best that it can be is key for us – after all, no two homes or clients are ever the same.
Having said that, we do love colour and texture and will always encourage our clients to be that little bit braver. Combining beautiful designs and products that maximise the functionality of a space and stand the test of time will always be at the core of our work.
How do you like to work with a client?
With word of mouth being our primary source of clients, it’s great for us that potential clients come to us having already seen and heard about our work. We always like to invite clients to the showroom to meet us first and see what we can offer. From there we will visit the client at their home or property to discuss the space and take measurements and photos. It’s typically then back to the showroom to discuss the designs and overall vision with clients choosing how involved they would like to be. On some projects where there is major work, we could be onsite daily, but often it’s as and when we are needed as the project unfolds.
What would we find if we visited your Essex showroom?
Ten minutes from Chelmsford in a little village called West Hanningfield we occupy a number of farm buildings all connected via our beautiful showrooms. As you enter our showroom, we have a number of displays showcasing some of our favourite designers together with furniture, accessories and lighting to help bring the designs to life. The showroom is there to inspire our clients and to show them how to use different products to achieve a certain look. We also have a number of sample chairs and sofas for our clients to try. Next to the showroom is our vast library of fabric and wallpapers, with the most recent collections from our designers. This then leads into our offices and through to the workroom, which is where all our fabric-based products are made by our fabulous team.
What else do you have planned for the future?
With Charlotte now in the business I hope that I can teach her as much as possible and in the not too distant future start to take a step back any enjoy more time with my five grandchildren. The business now consists of so much more than just curtains and blinds and Charlotte will bring her generation of clients through the door and embrace the future trends and needs of families today. It’s an exciting time for sure, with bolder designs and techniques being available and clients being braver and more ambition than ever.