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A Shade Above

Since A Shade Above was founded in a back room by Pat Blake in 1985, the family business has become a specialist provider of bespoke lampshades to hosts of prestigious UK-based and international clients. Cardens Partner James Phillips sat down with the business’ Managing Director Fiona Blake, to discuss projects, trends and the relationship the company has developed with Cardens since 2013.

About A Shade Above

Pat Blake was an expert dressmaker and seamstress with a creative, entrepreneurial flair – Having spotted a gap in the market for high end handmade lampshades, made to designers’ specifications, she started A Shade Above. After showcasing her work with interior designers across Sussex and Hampshire sales grew through word of mouth. Her husband Martin came onboard in the nineties, bringing with him a promotional and marketing background.

Securing a contract at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, supplying its auditorium and surrounding rooms with 700 bespoke silk shades, was a game-changer. That was 25 years ago, and today, the business is recognised as a go-to provider of bespoke lampshades for designers and specifiers across the UK and overseas.  Work with residential designers, hoteliers, developers, superyacht designers and other specifiers grew organically, and decades-long business relationships were made along the way.

Fiona employs and relies upon a large skilled and highly trained team of lampshade makers – each one has learned their craft of lampshade making at A Shade Above – many with multidisciplinary backgrounds in tailoring, leatherworking, pattern cutting, textiles, book binding, hat making and other specialist crafts.

These makers create every style of lampshades from contemporary to traditional – a current trend for maximalism means that on the making tables there is a colourful array of exquisite fabrics, elaborate pleats and beautiful braids, fringes and tassels.

Recent projects

The world-famous Soho House group is one of the many clients who have turned to A Shade Above for lampshades at new locations as they expand.  The team also work on projects such as Annabel’s Members Club in London, The Ivy restaurant roll-outs, Claridge’s Hotel, The Dorchester and Sketch London. 

Fiona says “these prestigious projects enhance and enable development at A Shade Above and over the years have helped to define international lampshade trends within the interior design industry.”

She adds, “Our team of highly skilled and experienced craftspeople are amazing – the backbone of the company alongside our level of bespoke and personal service. I’ve yet to find a comparable shade workshop in the worldwide – we are lucky to be at the top of a niche market!”   

Why A Shade Above approached Cardens

When A Shade Above approached Cardens Accountants, the business had recently become a Limited Company. Fiona was soon to become Managing Director and she felt the time was right to start afresh with a progressive accountant who understood her future vision.

What Fiona found at Cardens was a firm who could provide a team of skilled professionals, local opportunities, contacts, and tax savings straight away.

James highlights that “people come to us because they feel like they might not be getting value for money with a previous accountant or the most up to date advice. We look at a business with a fresh pair of eyes and a flexible approach.”

Developing our core services to meet their needs

Asking simple questions created a clear direction, and our services developed to meet the needs of the business. Like every client, A Shade Above received our core services, which progressed to incorporate bookkeeping and management accounts. 

Part of our approach is to look at the historical and use it to positively shape the future, providing stability and peace of mind for a client. As part of the process, Cardens utilised accounting software for A Shade Above to cut costs, and free up time.

Fiona calls upon James and the Cardens team as a “sounding board” and has quarterly catch ups to talk through problems and brainstorm ideas which is all included in the service provided. As Fiona’s role is shifting from working “in the business” to “on the business”, she is working with Cardens on more strategic needs.

Throughout our client relationship, James has been a phone call away to provide wide-ranging advice, from renting a property and getting a new company car to reviewing the position of the business when taking on a significant new client. Fiona states that their association with Cardens is “an integral part of our business – so much more than just the numbers.”

Count On Cardens

You can follow A Shade Above on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and its website.

If you would like to switch to Cardens Accountants, contact us on 01273 739592 . Our team will be happy to arrange a free consultation.


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