Dowsing & Reynolds is a premium home decor brand and retailer specialising in design-led fixtures and fittings.
Born almost completely by accident in 2013, the interiors company is all about bringing personality, creativity and inspiration to the home – from kitchen handles, to bespoke statement lighting to beautiful dimmers and switches.
To learn more about the fascinating story behind this unique brand, Digital Editor, Scarlette Isaac, interviewed Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, chief executive officer at Dowsing & Reynolds.
What is your main USP?
“Our aim is to turn very common items in your home into something special. Items that you have everyday interactions with around your home can actually put a smile on your face, if they are designed well.
“We’re really passionate about your home’s ability to make you feel something.”
When and how did your business start?
“The business was born in 2013 and it was founded by my husband James Dowsing-Reynolds, almost by accident.
“He was experimenting with sculpture in concrete as a hobby and I spotted a concrete light fitting in an interior magazine one day and said to him, ‘oh, you could make something like that.’ To anybody else that would have been an offhand comment, but James immediately set about making a lamp.
“To produce the lamp, he saw some beautiful filament light bulbs, some fabric cable from Italy, and he sold the surplus that he didn’t need for the lamps. The light bulbs and cable sold really well and so we just kept getting more in… he never actually got to finish the lamp.
“It all really came from a place of James wanting to de-stress through doing something creative. We’re nearly 70 people now and that ethos has stayed with us. We want the team to be happy and enjoy the journey with us.”
“Online just was where our skill base was. I used my experience as an experienced digital marketer to put together the original website in my spare time and the business really grew from there.
“James used to manage garden centres so understands physical retail really well, but he also understands how difficult it can be. We’ve trialled some physical retail and we’ll keep experimenting until we find the right format that works for us.”
Are you currently on any marketplaces?
“I think it’s something on the horizon for us. We’re looking at what feels right for our brand. We currently sell through Not On The High Street but that’s it. ‘Marketplace’ is definitely the buzzword of 2022 and I think every brand is creating one. It’s going to be an interesting year to watch all of that development.”
How are you using emerging technologies to support retail growth?
“We’re looking at what you’d expect – AI, VR and things like that, to help people imagine our products in their homes.
“As both a retailer and a manufacturer, we are unique in the fact that we can move quickly to introduce our own products. However, it does mean that we have to manage two sides – so we’re looking at new technologies and systems to help us with that.”
How did the pandemic impact your business?
“We saw so many new customers embracing home decor which was lovely and it gave us a lot more growth than expected. I think a lot of home and garden retailers and actually a lot of general internet retailers are feeling the aftermath of the pandemic right now, and dealing with the drop in customer demand. We expected it and it’s given us the opportunity to tighten everything up that grew in the last two years and make sure we’re all focused on the right priorities.
“Right now, we’re expanding our offering in terms of products, new categories and also interior design services online which focus on how you want a specific room to make you feel, and how you can achieve that.”
“We’ve got some plans for going into different categories and expanding the ones that we’re already in, as well as some exciting collaborations with some very well known brands. There will be a big focus on our ecommerce tools and making sure that we are doing the best that we can for the website.
“I think when you’ve got an ecommerce offering, it’s like painting a bridge – you start at one end, you reach the other end, and then you’ve got to do it all over again. It’s a never ending job and there’s always room for improvement. But that’s what makes it an interesting and varied industry to be in.”
To find out more about the furniture landscape, download our Furniture Sector 2021 report here.