to open factory showroom in Chester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 December 2013

Maria Hopwood of Deck Chair Stripes

Maria Hopwood of Deck Chair Stripes

not Archant

Six years after her online interiors business, Deckchairstripes took off, Tarporley-based Maria Hopwood has opened her first high street shop, not far from her home, in Chester

She’s an internet entrepreneur who has turned a chance opportunity into an international business using the power of the world-wide web to introduce millions to the quirky world of Deckchairstripes.

Now six years after the launch of her online striped fabric company and with sales continuing to grow, especially in the US, Japan and Australia, businesswoman Maria Hopwood has surprised some – and delighted others – by deciding to open her first shop.

‘But we’re not turning our back on online sales. This is a one-off factory showroom attached to our HQ at Waverton Business Park near Chester,’ explained Maria who has invested in a light and airy space to display her eclectic range of products, from striped chairs to window blinds and from chair covers to trimmings as well as beach, home and garden accessories.

‘Although Deckchairstripes is a totally online business, some customers have asked if there was a showroom where they could look, touch and feel the products that they see on our website. Now they can. In fact we’re considering creating a pop-up shop to take Deckchairstripes into major department stores for limited periods.

‘However, the online business is our mainstay and despite having been launched at the start of a recession we have grown from nothing into a £500,000 turnover concern in just six years.’

The Manchester-born entrepreneur and former art teacher spotted the business opportunity when her eyes fell upon the distinctively striped material that would form the basis of Deckchairstripes, while on a trip to India in 2007.

‘I had flown out to India to meet family, so I wasn’t looking for a business. I was running a successful antique shop in Chester,’ recalled Maria.

‘But I spotted the material on a stall in a market and I knew just had to buy it. I’m a very visual person and I found the material quirky. It was also niche and I just knew it would be a good seller, so I decided to buy as much of it as I could and bring it home.’

‘After years of French-influenced neutral designs, I just knew Britain was ready for these fabulous bright stripes,’ added Maria whose antique shop was in Chester’s Grosvenor Garden Centre.

And as if to prove her right, the distinctive striped fabric was equally popular with Maria’s customers and flew

off the shelves. Maria then had to track down the Indian manufacturer to order a huge consignment to meet demand.

‘It was all on a whim, but Deckchairstripes was in business,’ added the 62-year-old mother of three who lives in Tarporley with her husband, former sixties pop star Keith Hopwood of Herman’s Hermits fame.

‘I gathered a small group of people together to build the business and I even created our own unique invoicing system that we continue to use today. In fact Deckchairstripes still only employs six people.

Deckchairstripes has enjoyed some very significant international exposure. Deckchairstripes fabric has ‘starred’ in TV’s Downton Abbey drama as well as making appearances in the latest Nanny McPhee movie and Channel Four’s ‘Sunday Brunch.’

So what does Maria think is the reason for its popularity: ‘I think our success is partly due to the fact that we have brought back the retro stripe in all its full English glory, but with the addition of a distinctly modern twist.

‘Maybe I also inherited some of the entrepreneurship of my grandfather who was a very successful industrialist and who helped create truck manufacturer Seddon Atkinson in its early days. My diamond dealer brother who lives in Miami obviously inherited the gene too.’

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