When Harry Cole and David Adeane dreamed up the National Curtain Company in 2006, little did they realize it would grow in a few short years to become the UK’s biggest and best-known online curtain retailer. In the early 2000s, it was virtually impossible for home buyers to order and purchase curtains on the Internet, and Cole and Adeane soon spotted a golden opportunity. The company has since expanded to provide a full range of accessories and soft furnishings for the entire home.
How it All Began (The Natural Curtain Company)
Much of the credit for the original concept of the Natural Curtain Company actually belongs to Cally Cole, Harry’s wife, who is a full partner in the business. Cally has always been passionate about textiles, and she shared this passion with David Adeane, whom she had known since the three of them met at the University of East Anglia. As they pooled their thoughts on fabrics and designs, it became clear that there was a real gap in the online market for hand-made curtains in 100% natural fabrics.
It was through their deliberations that the basic concept of the business was established. However, it was necessary for them to persuade Harry to leave his engineering company in the USA, to provide the sales and marketing experience required to make the concept a reality. The aim was to keep everything simple, and to provide top-quality curtains in natural fabrics, via a website which was easy to navigate, and which made the purchase process straightforward from start to finish — which very few sites did at that time.
The business started in a small way, with a choice of just 50 different fabrics. In order to be sure the quality was right, they made over 1,000 sets of blinds and curtains to sell to friends and acquaintances at cost price, in return for honest feedback. They subsequently increased their selection to 100 fabrics and then to 200, all 100% natural.
Move Into Ready-Made
The company now operates from Suffolk, having closed their London showroom in favor of moving to the country. Having concentrated on made-to-measure products in the early days, they have found in recent years that there is a growing demand for ready-made curtains, to suit buyers who want to receive their orders quickly and with minimum effort on their part — for instance, if they are exhausted after furnishing their new or renovated home. The company has extended their offering to ready-made curtains to meet this demand, still in top-quality natural fabrics.
Commitment to Bespoke
This certainly does not mean that the Natural Curtain Company is abandoning their commitment to bespoke products, which are still the core of their offering. To help with the choice, customers can request up to 10 free fabric swatches, or buy a complete swatch-book for £20, which is deducted from their order. The company’s commitment to 100% natural fabrics — cottons, linens, silks, velvets — also remains steadfast, although some fabrics may contain a small amount of synthetic fiber to enable them to hang better.
The bespoke products don’t just include curtains. The company also makes accessories and soft furnishings to accompany the furnishings and enhance the room. These include cushions, bedspreads and lampshades.
Linings — a Unique Selling Point
However, the mainstay of the company’s offering is still curtains and Roman blinds, and one of their unique selling points is that, almost alone among online retailers, they offer a range of lining options for their curtains and blinds — interlining, thermal and blackout. These not only improve the appearance of the curtains, making them look fuller and plumper, but are also highly effective in keeping in the heat and reducing fuel bills. The fact that very few others provide these linings led to a 500% surge in orders for the company during the severe winter of 2009-2010.
Despite its growth, the Natural Curtain Company remains essentially a family business, holding firmly to the principles on which it was founded — simple and stylish products, produced in an ethical and environmentally friendly way. Although there is far more online competition than there was when the company started, they believe that no other company offers the same breadth of choice, or the same commitment to providing what the customer really wants. There seems no reason to believe the growth and expansion will slow down any time soon.