Archive: May 2015

A Look Behind the Scenes of Lente Designs

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Lente Designs.

Lente Designs specialise in high quality, designer covers for tablets and E-Readers. For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we caught up with the face behind the brand, Creative Director Helen Rolfe.

Helen gave us an insight into the inspiration behind Lente Designs and what it’s like running an independent business in the new and evolving market of technology accessories.

What inspired you to start Lente Designs? When did you begin?

I had been working very long hours in the same industry for over 12 years and with hardly any room for personal creativity.  It was time to build a new career that would give me the opportunity to do what I loved most: working with colours and fabrics. The idea came around the time the first Kindle was released & I was struck by how expensive and bland the covers were and absolutely nothing aimed with quality or style at an affordable price & so Lente Designs was launched in 2010.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries.

I had always been a frustrated designer and our cases definitely reflect my personality, often missing in corporate companies. Our cases are fun and just that little bit more quirky, bringing colour and uniqueness to a market often flooded with low quality, plain coloured tablet covers, mostly made of fake leather! Along with great quality we need to ensure our pricing is affordable and we hope that’s what makes them perfect for the gift market.

What’s your role in the business?

I am the Owner, Creative Director, Customer Service contact  – basically I fulfil all the roles a small business requires.

What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

I must say designing the cases is my passion. It might sound cheesy but I still get a real buzz when coming up with an idea for a case pattern and then actually seeing the finished product. I’ve even met people on trains that have one of our covers and I can’t tell you how great that feels. Obviously, running your own indie company can be stressful at times but having the freedom to make your own decisions and follow your own direction is just awesome.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

Yes, my husband help me set up Lente Designs and works in the technology industry so still gets involved in the company. He maintains our website and as the Technical Director is responsible for that side of the business. He’s always delving in boxes of cables and fiddling around with computers – he loves it & it’s a great excuse for him to buy the latest gadgets, just to see if they are good product for us to design covers for!  I also have a friend who helps with the all the Marketing and a couple of local girls who help process and pack the orders.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Lente Designs?

Yes, I certainly do agree and I believe this is because when it’s your own business you have to have a real passion for what you do. It’s so personal this gets reflected in your designs and definitely in the quality. I’d never put my name to something that falls short of this. All our products are hand checked for any flaws and I always take on board all the feedback & suggestions we get from customers.

You have some great feedback from customers on your website. What’s the best comment you’ve had so far?

Oh, it would be too difficult to choose as we do get some amazing feedback from our customers. I know one lady said she loved our case designs so much that she actually went out and bought a tablet to fit the case – whereby most do it the other way round!  They are a really special, loyal bunch of people and we’re really grateful that they share us with their friends and family. T his kind of growth is the best kind & the reason we are still happily in business 4 years down the line.

You currently specialise in creating decorative cases for tablets and E-Readers? What inspires you about this area of design?

I think I’ve always had a good eye for design, whether in my home or clothes etc and it’s just seeing these as part of the home accessories ‘why not think of your tablet case as a fashion accessory’.  They really don’t have to be boring. I moved out to the Buckinghamshire countryside a few years ago and it’s truly beautiful. It’s easy just to look around whilst out on a walk and find inspiration, as our Instagram pics show.

Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection? 

We have already started to move into the business market with our armourdog® range of covers. These are products designed for the tough day to day challenges of modern business, be that retail, utilities, restaurants, education, healthcare or office.

Your products have to work perfectly with the technology they are protecting. What can you tell us about the process of creating designs compatible with the devices?

With my husband having worked with & in technology for over 20 years, a huge chunk of that time in R&D he knows exactly what is expected and needed as far as the functionality of the cases. He can draw up a design and the team then put those designs into practice.

You’re not impressed with the fake leather cases on the market. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved in your collection and what stands it apart from the fakes?

Our cases are all hand checked for any imperfections (we have a ‘homeless’ section where we offer huge discounts on all the cases that haven’t made the grade. Our customer can vouch for us when we say we are pretty stringent with our checks – some can’t even see what the flaw is). The canvas we use is of high quality and the Polyurethane cases are made from the same materials Apple use.

Why should people shop with you?

One of the areas we pride ourselves on is providing great customer service. We can give the personal touch that most bigger companies just can’t. We know our products inside out so we know we can give great advice and if there are any problems, we pick up the phone to sort it out. We often have a good old chat with our customers and hope that we are friendly and approachable. We have a lot of repeat business so it shows we must be doing something right!

What makes you different?

We have fun with our products and aim to make the whole shopping experience easy and friendly.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

Again, it’s down to the customer service and getting the personal touch. Independent companies can now offer the same easy online shopping experience as the bigger companies so why wouldn’t you want to order from a place where you can feel more than just a number.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

We are currently loving Moltenwonky (the name itself is just fantastic!). Lente Designs were on the stand next to Moltenwonky at the recent Spring Fair in Birmingham and we thought the handmade fused glass ornaments & gifts were something really special, entirely unique and so very very creative. Katie Lynn is very talented lady.

Thank you Helen!

Now you’ve read the interview, take a look at the website.

Posted by Charlotte 10:00 5/05/15
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