West London Kitchens is a small business run by husband and wife team Keith and Elizabeth Dare. They sell upmarket German and Italian kitchens at midmarket affordable prices because they don’t run traditional showrooms and therefore don’t have the overheads. Instead, they take prospective clients to see kitchens they’ve installed in people’s homes directly so they get to see real kitchens in-situ and at the same time meet fellow neighbours! This is much more informative (and fun!) than going to a showroom and it means they can pass on substantial savings to clients.
WLM recently caught up with co-founder and mum, Elizabeth:
What inspired you to start West London Kitchens?
Keith used to run a design agency and I was a marketing director at Random House so we had the skills: Keith does all the kitchen designs and sales, and I do the PR and marketing. We used to work long hours in our offices but saw the opportunity in 2009 to set up a company with a really good business model that would enable us to see our children. So far, business is good and we’ve got through the last three years without childcare. It’s important to me that our children see us working hard but also see us, too.
What makes West London Kitchens unique?
First, the company is run by a husband and wife team. We’re both hands-on with the business, share the same values and understand each other well. Many of our clients have children at primary school, as do we, so we live the same kind of life and understand what they need.
Second, we occupy a very singular position in the market: between the large, cheaper kitchen chains whose emphasis is on volume sales, and the smaller boutique companies that have much higher prices.
Third, most companies in our area of the market have at least one showroom with all its attendant costs so our price advantage is significant, with our business model of showing kitchens we’ve already installed.
What advice do you have when planning a kitchen reno?
Be realistic about your budget; think carefully how you want to use the space; don’t install large, fixed features unless you’re really sure about them (flexibility is key to a design that you want to last for years); plan for children getting bigger. Then – call in the experts, like us, partly because they know what they’re doing and partly because you need objectivity when planning such an important renovation.
What challenges have you faced with your business?
Working together at home became hard so we now have an office up the road for Keith, and I have our home office. This has also helped Keith to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’; the temptation to be on the laptop is hard to resist when the laptop is right there on the kitchen table. But we realized that’s bad for us and bad for the kids, so thank god for the new office.
What advice do you have for new mums in business?
See ‘challenges’ above! Also, get the advice and help you need, don’t just soldier on alone. Networking is good, too, time-consuming but useful.
What is your favourite book to read your child?
I read Room on the Broom last night and thought again what a genius is Julia Donaldson. As I have three girls, I’ve got a lot of mileage out of the Little House on the Prairie books; we all adore them.
What’s your favourite kid’s shop in west London?
Snapdragon on Turnham Green Terrace is a treasure trove.
What’s your favourite shop in west London?
I’m a book fiend so I love Daunts on Holland Park Avenue and Lutyens & Rubinstein on Kensington Park Road. I also have a mild weakness for Cath Kidston on Chiswick High Road.
Where do you and your brood hang out?
We’re in Ravenscourt Park most weekends…
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