Anne Tyler-Bryant, managing director at Bryant Furnishing Ltd, talks to Living about growing the business, coping with Brexit and interiors trends for 2020


Q: When did Bryant Interior Furnishings first open and whereabouts was it based?

A: My mother, Carole, started the business from our family home in Winton in 1970. It was registered as “Bryant Furnishing” in 1976. My parents bought the shop premises in Alma Road, Winton in 1978 where it still stands strong today as “Bryant Interior Furnishings”.


Q: What was the aim/ethos of the company?

A: To offer hand made soft furnishings of all shapes and sizes. Nothing ever phased my mother, she always loved a challenge and normally succeeded!


Q: What services were offered in the beginning?

A: In the very beginning it was simple alterations to curtains, such as shortening or re-lining. My mother also made curtains for other shops in the area. Soon her friendly “can do” attitude had her involved with much more private work.


Q: How did the company grow from there?

A: She employed one or two curtain makers to work with her. Back in the 1970s there were many skilled curtain makers around who used to work in the curtain workrooms of the big department stores in Bournemouth such as Bobby’s and JJ Allens. As the business grew she was able to buy her own shop premises. This used to be a hairdressers with a residential flat above. She soon converted it into a curtain workroom and brought the makers with her. She learned so much from them. It was through their expertise and her business acumen and determination that the business grew.


Q: Did the range of services expand?

A: Of course and the 1980s was frills, frills frills. The meterage of fabric used in an average home back then was vast. My mother loved it and the business was a huge success. They used to make and install swags and tails, frilled valances, loose covers, bedspreads, bed coronas, thousands of metres of nets! the list goes on and on.


Q: When did other family members come on board?

A: All of my family have been roped in at some point! My father was a precision engineer and when he retired he used to do most of the curtain fitting. Then my brother, Ian, fitted for a while. My sister, Sarah, dipped in and out before embarking on another career, but only I have been fully committed. My family have an amazing work ethic. They are all mostly self-employed and have all helped, even if it’s just good business advice.


Q: How many members of staff are there now, and what else does the company offer?

A: My mother and I are both directors. We have three full time employees. Amanda, shop manager; Marlaine, interior designer and Martin, fitter and goods manager. We also have a fantastic work force of self-employed, highly skilled makers for curtains, blinds and upholstery.

Bryant Interior Furnishings can offer just about all aspects of interior decoration. Our speciality is still curtains and blinds. We can design, make and install to such a high standard and have dressed the trickiest of windows. We provide new, bespoke, upholstered furniture and re-upholster existing furniture. We supply bespoke headboards, stools, window seats and more. At the beginning of 2019, due to customer demand, we started our “design service” and this has been really popular. We are not qualified interior designers and don’t claim to be – we see ourselves as interior decorators as we can only offer a “cosmetic” design service ie. specifying paints, wallpapers, rugs, lights, furniture, window dressings, accessories etc. We intend to grow this service and are already looking into outsourcing our designs into 3D visualisations so that clients can see their dream room before their eyes. At this point they can either just pay for the design or they can see part of the project or all of the project through to completion. Our design service also includes show homes and show apartments, although private residential projects take precedence.


Q: What are the most important aspects of the business?

A: Always customer service, good design and top quality products. We try to exceed expectations and make the whole experience for our clients easy and enjoyable.


Q: What do you enjoy the most about working for/running a family business?

A: The freedom and spending time with the customers, friends and colleagues that I have worked with over the past 20 years.


Q: How do you continue to expand the business in the current climate?

A: I’m not looking to expand the business in this current climate. Here comes the B word – Brexit! All businesses have been affected by the political turmoil that we have endured over the past few years. It’s been a very challenging time. Now that a decision has been made, Britain can react to it and hopefully things will start to flow again. My dream would be to have an interior design studio and, just like my mother learnt from those skilled curtain makers, I would love to work with and learn from skilled and experienced interior designers. I am not interested in commercial work, only private residential. I love being with my customers in their homes, you meet so many different types of people and there is no limit to what you can have in a private home.


Q: Why do you think people still choose a bespoke service such as yours over “off the rack” products?

A: Because they want exclusive furnishings and benefit from a personal service. What we can offer goes way beyond a mass made, ready made product.


Q:How do you keep up with current trends?

A: Instagram is fantastic for trends and news. Stunning images that we see every day keep us inspired and up to date. We often visit exhibitions and travelling is also a great source of inspiration.


Q: What are the key themes for 2020 when it comes to curtains/fabrics/window dressings?

A: Roman Blinds or shutters for small to medium windows and curtains for large, full length windows. Sheer blinds replace net curtains and many blinds offer daytime privacy as well as night time privacy. There is a strong focus towards sustainable and recycled products. Many of the roller blind and screen fabrics are made from recycled plastic and can be recycled again. Wood products have to be accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Fabrics are complicated when it comes to their environmental impact. There are a few furnishing fabrics on the market made from recycled yarns but the process is very expensive and of course, chemical. Sadly fabrics are not being recycled easily yet and huge, old curtains going straight into landfill is quite distressing. Natural fibres such as linen and cotton are biodegradable but the way they are produced is not always ethical. It’s a subject close to all our hearts and is very much on our minds when specifying products.


Q: To what do you attribute the company’s continued success?

A: Being versatile and listening to the needs of our customers.


Q: What does the future hold for Bryant Interior Furnishings?

A: A large portfolio of extraordinary homes and a company yacht for staff holidays!


Bryant Interior Furnishings, Alma Road, Winton

01202 528063