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The start-up making designers of the everyday person

Bespoke is the new black in design land, with consumers more willing than ever to spend big on products made exactly to their taste and specifications. Enter, a fast-growing start-up and its innovative digital product that’s giving people design control over a household product many of us take for granted.

My Bespoke Chair is a sister company to Bespoke Art, both of which are the brainchild of Emma Veiga-Malta.

Veiga-Malta, an artist and designer, recognised a niche while running her small art and fabric design business as many clients were requesting specific and unusual fabric combinations for their upholstery.

“My clients saw their chairs as functional pieces of art and decoration. With the internet streamlining business and the repetitive upholstery work at Bespoke Art, I put two and two together, and the idea for My Bespoke Chair was conceived,” she told Dynamic Business.

Funded by a combination of Veiga-Malta’s savings and revenue from the Bespoke Art business, the start-up is the world’s only online 3D custom chair design studio that gives the customer complete design control.

According to the founder, My Bespoke Chair “captures the zeitgeist of social, online shopping and mobile technologies”, thanks to a unique and innovative tool it offers customers access to.

“We have developed an online ‘point, click and spin 360’ design tool – this is a new feature unseen in other interior design and furniture websites. We wanted to make the design experience innovative, intuitive and fun; rejecting boring drop-down menus and eliminating wordy step-by-step instructions,” Veiga-Malta said.

The demands of building a original digital tool meant Veiga-Malta had to find a development team who was totally “on message” with what she wanted to achieve – after all, she’s a creative, not a web developer.

“I was very lucky to work with an excellent web development team. Building a 3D design tool from scratch is uncommon and finding web developers and designers willing to take on the labour intensive task was a challenge in itself,” she added.

Hey customers, listen up

Despite delivering this novel tool and limited edition pieces, the start-up is having to work hard to grow consumer awareness of its offering, and improve its customer base.

“We have a limited budget, so traditional avenues of advertising are out of the question for now,” Veiga-Malta added.

Which means the business is relying on social media as well as industry professionals to help get the word out. Another slightly more private issue Veiga-Malta is grappling with is the chance that she may not see a return on her investment in the start-up.

“The biggest risk for My Bespoke Chair is very personal – my savings have gone into the business, and because all the printed fabrics are my designs, it feels rather like putting my heart and soul on public display. That is unnerving to say the least!” she said.

Working on her patience is helping Veiga-Malta better manage the stressful aspects of start-up life. For others in a similar situation, she has some sage advice:

“Beginning a start-up is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; the pieces come together slowly, mistakes are made and it takes a while sometimes to see the big picture and say ‘Yes, that’s how it should look,’” she added.

It also helps to remind herself that she’s building a business around something she’s been passionate about since a child.

“I love the fact that I am doing what I’d be doing anyway. I have always drawn, painted and designed since a child, so I really can’t imagine not running my own business along these lines,” Veiga-Malta added.

Keep your eyes peeled, because My Bespoke Chair could be going global some time in the near future.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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