Home working but different!
Hi Katy, how did you start making thermal blinds?
I spent most of my career as a project manager and working with old buildings but at heart I’m a climate change activist, trying to work out how we can live within the limits of our resources & reduce CO2 emissions.
When I was made redundant in 2009 I started experimenting with solving the heat loss problems of single glazed sash windows (a bit of a fascination since the oil crisis in the 80’s).
I don’t quite recall how the eureka moment of the magnets came to me but once I’d sourced the incredibly powerful (but tiny) magnets, and worked out how these could be combined with ‘space blanket’ & Thinsulate, I just HAD to start making the thermal blinds.
Where do you make the blinds?
We live in a village just outside Frome and converted the village Victorian school from derelict into a passive solar home. My prototype blind hangs in the kitchen, where I’ve run the thermal modelling tests, and my workshop is in the converted school toilets at the bottom of the garden. Its a joy to wander down there, get away from the housework & phone, turn on the radio & get on with the manufacturing.
I think you’ve had some nice accolades – tell us about those
Yes, I had a very unexpected article in the Sunday Times which said my blinds are as effective as triple glazing.
More recently I won the 2012 PEA (People & Environment Achievement) Award for the Best Energy Saving Idea, judged by Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth director Joe Jenkins and others. [That's Katy with her award above].
What are the good points about home working?
I have a school aged daughter who gets a school bus to & from home, so for me home working enables me to be here for her yet carry on working. I also love being able to take time out if I want to, being alone, wearing slobby clothes, listening to loud music.
Anything you dislike about home working?
I miss the camaraderie of office life sometimes. I work anytime of day, evenings and weekends which is not necessarily a good thing!
Any advice for home workers who are manufacturing at home?
Make sure you find a local support network (eg. Jelly / Chamber of Commerce). Buy in the services or tasks you don’t like doing, eg. cleaning, book-keeping (I don’t take my own advice here!).
Find a way of marketing your product without having to ask people to come to your home (I go to shows & rely mostly on online marketing).
Get help from others when you are confident that you’ve found the best way of making the product – I’m planning some ‘making workshops’ to find home workers and to enable them to make up their own blinds in kit form.
Find out more about staying warm with Katy’s unique thermal blinds at The Thermal Blind Company.
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