Jacky Al-Samarraie
Clare Burnett

Bradford SME now supplying John Lewis after help from Rising Stars

A Bradford-based greeting card and homeware designer is now supplying her designs to John Lewis and The House of Lords after receiving help from Bradford’s Rising Stars programme.

Jacky Al-Samarraie founded The Art Rooms in 2007.

As the business developed she approached Rising Stars, a business growth programme funded by Bradford Council and the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, to access support.

Jacky said: “During the time I have worked with Rising Stars I have been able to hire a full time staff member in July 2013 and move premises from Baildon Mill to Salts Mill in Saltaire in September 2013, to accommodate the growth of the business.

“The order fulfilment was outsourced for a year, but bringing it back in house meant we needed a larger space, and the arts and creative reputation of Salts Mill is the perfect location for us.”

In addition to expanding the business and selling online, The Art Rooms is starting 2014 as new trade suppliers to the National Trust and the Woodland Trust as well as continuing a growing relationship with John Lewis and online gift retailer, notonthehighstreet.com.

“Retailing online is potentially a huge growth area for us, as we design and produce our own products. Online retail sales almost doubled in 2013.

“We are gaining a reputation for providing an excellent service to customers and producing beautiful quality products that I can proudly say, are Made in Britain,” added Jacky.

The Art Rooms was started as a way to share a love of creativity. Jacky, who retrained in Graphic Design following a career with social services, said: “My product range has developed from greeting cards and now includes prints and other stationery, bone china mugs, tableware and interiors products.

“My best-seller throughout the product lines is the Landscape design which has become my signature style. The rural Yorkshire Landscapes have remained popular since I first introduced them in 2007.”

Rising Stars is part of Bradford Council’s enterprise programme and was set up to support and mentor entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses in the Bradford District, where experienced business advisers are on-hand to provide free, dedicated and personal advice.

Rising Stars Business Services Manager, Carolyn Coleman, said: “The Art Rooms was a successful business before Jacky approached us for support.

“Together we were able to develop the brand further to accommodate for future growth, which included moving to a new location and hiring a full time staff member. It is fantastic to see the company getting the recognition and support from national retailers.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Employment and Skills, said: “Bradford has always been known for its creativity with its rich history in textiles so it’s fantastic to see such a success story from a contemporary design business with handmade quality.

“Support from Rising Stars enabled the business to move to larger premises so that their business could expand, making this an exciting and truly promising partnership.”

For further information about Rising Stars and the Council’s Business and Enterprise Programme visit www.rising-stars.biz.

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