Stuart from Stuart Lambel Designs took some time out from his busy workshop recently to answer a few questions for us. Here he’s talking about his business and lifestyle and how becoming a father has influenced him.
I never really had the ‘idea’ to create Stuart Lamble Designs, it just sort of happened with the combination of a few sales of my work and luck in getting a workshop to start it all up in. I am quite a solitary person, so the ethos of my work being made by me and no one else is just a natural way for me to work. I don't think I could do it any other way. I guess I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to it.
I don't think I was particularly conscious of the business becoming a success, even to this day I think that I am still just winging it. I work hard and just keep on going, I guess the only time I thought that what I was doing was working was when I started on it full time and no longer had to have other jobs to carry my work forward.
Fatherhood, definitely changed my focus in many ways. In my work it gave me an extra drive to keep it working and a reason to make it work. I had mouths feed and a bigger responsibility to earn. I am lucky to work just a few metres from my home and have been able to watch both my boys grow up, seeing them and being a part of their everyday life. Its not something every parent has the opportunity to do.
Work/life balance is always tricky when your self employed. Many think that you can take loads of time off as you have no 'boss' to answer to, but its mostly far from the truth. Running your own business is a 24 hour job, I am always thinking about it and find it hard to switch off. If I have to do extra hours I do it in the evening when the kids are asleep so it doesn't impact my time with them. Since having them I don't work weekends, but I do have to work a lot of evenings to have this family time.
The best thing about running my own business is that I'm doing something I love doing everyday. Although it can be very stressful I don't ever regret having to get out of bed and going to the workshop, I actually look forward to it. The hardest part of my business was the early days. Having three jobs, the very long evenings and working in my workshop for very little money. Sacrificing my social life and not being able to have or do things my mates were as I was pumping all my hours and money back into the business was tough, I dread to think how many unpaid hours I have done, but its all worth it now.
I don't think I can say one piece of advice had helped me the most, I think having people believe in my work and them telling me to keep going was a huge help in encouraging me to continue. One of my friends parents used to say that ‘a busy person gets things done’, and I think this is true, to stay busy helps to maintain momentum and its momentum that keeps it all progressing, even when it doesn't actually seem like it is.
If I had to use 3 words to describe myself they would be : Stubborn, determined, forgetful!
My biggest influence as a creator, was seeing the work of a maker called Gareth Neil when I was an A'Level Student at Falmouth University, it gave me a little ‘kick of hope’ that I could one day make cool stuff like his. Its very organic and totally different to anything I had seen before.
Ahh, when am I at my my most happiest?… thats a hard one. Obviously when I'm with my wife and boys, they give me so much joy (when they are on form!) but as a physical place it has to be in the sea with my board. I was so lucky to grow up in Cornwall in a seaside town with the beach and my board. Whenever I see the sea it instantly makes me happy. I'm looking forward to getting the boys out there when they are a bit older and enjoying it with them as I did when I was young.