Sarah Jane Mathews tells us how her passion for design, along with her desire for a dream nursery, created a successful business.
We all want our little one to have the perfect nursery and when Sarah gave birth to her first daughter she was no different. However, when Sarah began her search, she was unable to find a design or piece of furniture that she wanted. “The nursery had to be beautiful, after all it was the room I was going to be spending most of my time in for the next few years, it had to be perfect.”
Sarah had always had a passion for design, studying Art & Design at college and going on to get a HND in visual communications at university. So with the help of her husband’s manufacturing company, Sarah decided to use her passion to create the perfect nursery herself. But as she began to create her daughter’s nursery, Sarah wondered if other mums were in the same position as her.
“I started to think: surely there were other expectant mothers out there who felt the same as me — mothers who wanted high quality nursery furniture that was well made, safe, and looked beautiful?”
With the few spare moments during her daughter’s first year, Sarah designed a range of cots, dressers, changing stations and armoires. “I ended up with hundreds of drawings, and then chose my favourites — and Bambizi was born.”
Bambizi now offers a wide range of unique furniture made by top-quality craftsmen using traditional British woodworking techniques. “In an age of mass-produced foreign imports and computerised machinery this is an art form seldom used in the creation of nursery furniture. We’ve hand-pick the very best hardwoods and veneers, and manufacture everything here in England.”
However, Sarah is quick to point out the road to Bambizi’s creation wasn’t easy, having to overcome numerous difficulties to ensure she remained true to her values of UK created furniture. “I wanted the furniture made to British standards, which meant testing the furniture and witnessing the machines pound my furniture 40, 0000 times. I insisted that every piece was made and sourced in the UK, then I had to try and find everything here in the UK. I would often source organic fabric, embroiders, wool batting, then being told so many times 'it wasn't possible' that was the most disheartening along with 'you need to go to china'!”
Despite these difficulties, Sarah loves having the luxury of running her own business. And all the benefits that come along with it. “It enables me to dictate the hours I work. In turn this gives me the time to fit meetings and the day to day running of Bambizi around school and nursery hours.”
But even with this flexibility, managing a business and a family means Sarah’s days are kept very busy. “I get the girls ready and drop them off to school, sliding out of my role as mummy into Designer/Founder of Bambizi, attending meetings from safety testing results (as all of our products are tested to the highest safety standard) to advertising meetings or viewing the latest colour swatches, answering calls and processing orders. Finally if Jack the Great Dane is lucky I will grab him for a walk, cook dinner, pop the girls to bed and return to the computer… it’s crazy! But I enjoy it.”
Sarah believes it is these experiences of motherhood that have allowed her to give the highest level of customer service at Bambizi. “Being a mum I feel very strongly that Bambizi gives a very personal service; I want customers to know that we will look after every single requirement or need, no matter what. Bambizi will do everything from the design stage to assembling the cot at home.”
These services include a bespoke design service where customers who want a piece made to their own specification can have the option to change the colour, type of wood, or simply have something designed and made completely from their own vision. At the heart of Bambizi is the quality of the products, as Sarah believes in creating furniture that will last a lifetime. “Each individual piece has a Bambizi plaque with a teddy and doll with space to inscribe your child’s name and date of birth. The furniture will be a family heirloom being passed from generation to generation. Tomorrows antiques!”
By creating long lasting furniture instead of replacing or throwing it away, Sarah hopes this will also help reduce the 100 million tons of waste going to land fill every year. Sarah is also conscious on our baby’s health when she designs her furniture and as Bambizi has grown, Sarah has become more aware of the ecological and environmental effects of her design. “I’ve discovered the process of producing cotton and the chemicals that are used, the implications it can have on yours and your baby’s health. Wood can be and should be FSC sourced and that there are organic alternatives that can be used instead. This has played a huge part in how I create my furniture.”
Sarah is always keen to remember when designing, her initial ideas of what makes a dream nursery “it should be your own little space where you love to be - Beautiful tranquil, and practical, an extension of your own style. There’s no need to fill the room with wall to floor characters, stay true to your design integrity that you've established throughout the rest of your home. Your baby is part of you.”