Five Minutes with the Founder | Vicki Rothschild, Rothschild & Bickers

Over the next few weeks we will be spending five minutes with the founders of our 12 new Brands of Tomorrow, getting to know them and their businesses, and finding out the stories behind their brands. Today we kick-off with Vicki Rothschild, who together with Mark Bickers, is the co-founder of Rothschild & Bickers, creators of exquisite hand-blown lighting which adorns stylish hotels, restaurants and homes across the UK.

Briefly describe your company?
Rothschild & Bickers is first and foremost a hand blown glass manufacturer who specialises in making pendant lighting. Pure molten glass is hand-formed employing only callipers as a measure, making products that are truly unique. Each design produced at the studio adopts traditional techniques, creating glass that will be cherished by future generations. This quality is matched in every detail from delicately woven flexes and trimmings to hand spun metal canopies and ceiling roses.

Tell us the story of how you built your brand?
Myself and Mark met while studying at the Royal College of Art in London. Glass is inherently a group activity and we worked together as a team to produce our designs. After graduation we established a collaborative studio space and continued to work on projects. One of our biggest clients at the time was Ted Baker who was steadfast in using British manufacturers. They commissioned bespoke lighting and installations from us for all of their UK and international stores. This acted as both a training ground and a platform for us to launch our own distinct range of pendant lighting. Since then the brand has grown from strength to strength focusing on a wider range of commercial spaces and the high end domestic interior market.

Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
All of our work is hand blown by highly skilled craftspeople and production costs are very high. Our first priority as business owners is to keep these people in a job and to keep this traditional craft not only alive but also developing for the next generation. We always felt that the luxury sector was the only place to do this. Our customers are very discerning and they appreciate the heritage and detail we put into each product.

What is your favourite thing about your job?
The most rewarding aspect of running the business is that we have made traditional glassblowing, which is something we love to do, into a business that employs not only us but a large team of people. All those years in art college and training were not a waste!

What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
We have always been influenced by historic companies such as Whitefriars glass, W.A.S Benson and Morris & Co. The development of a craft into a production line and making it something truly commercial without losing the beauty and detail of the original is truly inspiring and what we strive to attain.

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
I am only speaking for myself here but if I could be anything, then it would probably be something like a travel writer, maybe not such a good thing in the current climate. I think Mark would have been in some kind of tech industry job, he is really a computer nerd at heart who stumbled into becoming a glassblower. This is what makes him such a good business partner, he is multi talented! He would probably say that he wants to be a Top Gear presenter, but he’s way too nice for that.

If you could do something different in your career what would it be?
We each have experience working within art education, teaching on BA and MA courses. As a result we both have a passion to keep the craft of glass blowing alive and relevant in the design world. It would be exciting to develop a more vocational art education system focussed on skills within the industry.

Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years time?
We are currently a very small team and production is limited to what we can make. Hopefully, investment in training and our workshop can grow the company workforce over the next few years. In parallel with this expansion, we are developing a new ecommerce site and focusing on International markets. The dream would be to have showrooms around the world and match the exceptional standards of companies like Wedgwood or Baccarat.

What does success look like to you?
Success to us is just the ability to work with glass, a material we love and to sustain a living from it. There is something very satisfying to know that the skills we were taught as students will be handed down to a new generation of glass blowers and will not be lost. Obviously it would also be nice to own a big house with a garden!

What advice do you have to any young entrepreneurs to start their own business?
Be prepared to work very hard and for very little to begin with. It is completely true that what you put in is what you get back, hopefully by tenfold if you are successful!

What is your greatest luxury under ten pounds?
Probably a very cold pint of beer after a long and hot day of glassblowing.

www.rothschildbickers.com