Up in lights
Illuminations are not just for the seaside, as Charlotte Pearson discovers in Bolney.
Walking along a Sussex seafront with the rolling waves and beautiful beach there is enough there to inspire anyone.
For Andy Osborne it was while walking towards Brighton’s Palace Pier that he admits he had his ‘lightbulb moment’ in more ways than one.
“The pier is so iconic,” explains the owner of Up In Lights. “I just looked at the bright, illuminated letters and thought that it was something I could do.
“When I thought of the idea back in January 2014 there wasn’t much else out there like it.
“However since launching in November last year there has been a bit of a boom.”
Made from MDF and measuring 16cm high, the letters are LED battery operated and can be put on a shelf, as the curved letters have flat bottoms, or hung on a wall with relative ease.
“The letters are great for children’s bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms,” he says.
“We didn’t want to go down the carnival letter route as we wanted them to be something which could be easily given as a gift.
“A lot of people buy them as gifts for others and for themselves,” reveals Andy.
“The letters are also really popular with people organising weddings.”
Andy has been in the party and gift industry for 25 years and is also the managing director of company Smiling Faces, which specialises in a number of items to kit out all your party needs including bunting, sprinkle confetti and tableware.
“It is a really exciting business to be in,” he explains. “And it is always really interesting to see how it is all changing.”
Although initially seeing a gap in the market, Andy is quick to admit he is surprised at its popularity.
“I knew there wasn’t much out there at the time like it, but I have been shocked at just how popular the letters have been,” he reveals.
“On social media we have had people tag us from all over which is really exciting and cool.”
With an office based in Bolney, Up In Lights has had queries from all over the world.
“We only ship to the UK at the moment,” reveals Andy.
“But we have so many requests from all over America, Brazil, Greece and the Netherlands that we are looking at shipping worldwide.”
Another surprise has been what letters have been flying out the door.
“The letters in the word ‘camels’ are really popular,” he says. “The ‘m’s and ampersands have been selling well so I can only assume people buy them for Mr and Mrs. It is surprising as we weren’t sure which letters would sell well.”
Looking ahead Andy has plans on how he can update the product.
“We are looking at producing bigger letters and different bits like that,” he says. “You can get the hearts in red glitter and the stars also come in gold and silver glitter.
“People can paint them if they want, but you can guarantee if we did colours people would always want the one we don’t have.”
Moving down from Worcester to the south, Andy says he has found much inspiration.
With everyone from brides to children fans of the product, who would he say is its main target audience?
“People ask me that a lot and I don’t think we have one,” he says. “I have a daughter who is 15, she loves them and so do her friends.
“Katie in the office is in her twenties and she loves them and so do our friends, so it is really mixed.”
For those that would love to see their names up in lights or even if you want to spell out your love on your special day there is a letter, or star, for every occasion.
For more information and to buy letters, visit www.up-in-lights.co.uk
Pictures: Sussex Retail Photography
October 15, 2015 Interiors and Property