Mark Ludwin and Somma Power are the brains behind Inspiring Curtains and Blinds. Guest blogger Nicole Lyons interviews the charming duo to find out how and why the business was started, how they work and why customers continue to recommend them. Hope you enjoy the read...
The doorbell rings and I spot the Inspiring Curtains and Blinds van parked up outside. My interviewees have arrived. I open the door and I’m face to face with Mark Ludwin, the business's Founder and Director. He smiles warmly and shakes my hand, “I’m Mark Ludwin and this is my business partner Somma Power”. Somma steps forward and shakes my hand firmly, “Lovely to meet you!”.
Five minutes later we are seated in the garden, tea in hand and ready to go. I start by asking how they know each other and how they came to work together. Mark explains how he used to manage Somma a few years previously at Paul Simons. Mark: “I showed her the ropes and trained her up on the products, how to measure, and customer service. In my opinion, that’s why she’s so good!”. Somma: “He always takes all the credit”, she comments light heartedly. “Despite the fact that he sometimes played jokes on me, I was learning so much that I didn’t mind. Plus, I got my own back a few times!”. I don’t doubt that for a second. She’s shrewd this one.
From what I can see, these two are very grounded and they gel as a team. I’m curious as to how and why the business was founded and say as much to Mark. Mark: “After 15 years in the curtains business, the time was right to set up on my own. I could see that there was a gap in the market when it came to ordering curtains and blinds. Customers were crying out for a service that provided them with expert advice, a vast range of products and fabrics to choose from, and an exceptional finish. I had the supplier relationships already, so I knew I could negotiate good prices and pass these savings onto customers”. His passion is clear to see and his enthusiasm is infectious.
We move onto how the business operates, and Mark jumps up. “Let’s pop outside to the van and we’ll take you through it”. As we walk, Somma explains how it works. “We visit customers directly at home and our branded van is our portable showroom. It’s basically curtain and blinds heaven on wheels. There is so much to choose from so we often steer customers on what we think suits their home and meets their requirements. It makes the process so much easier for them”.
I have to admit, I’m impressed. The choice of fabrics is vast. Every colour, pattern and texture you can think of is here. What impresses me more though, is the way Mark and Somma know their products inside-out. I roll out question after question: What is the best option for maximising light? What looks best in a period property? What is the best product to have in a bathroom? Each question is considered, and answered precisely and helpfully. It’s clear to see why their customers keep recommending them. I delve a bit deeper into the hours they work. Mark: It’s best to visit customers during daylight hours, so it’s easier to showcase the options and advise on colours that suit the room. This means we work longer hours in the summer, but we don’t mind. We also work weekends and do anything we can to fit in around our customers, so the whole process is as easy and convenient for them as possible”.
When asked whether they are looking to expand further, Mark looks thoughtful. “It’s definitely on the cards but right now I want to make sure our service is seamless. We are currently moving to our own premises (more to come soon!) and then following that, we will be ready to grow the team and our services. Watch this space”. They don’t have to tell me twice. I’m converted.