Skinflint – A Transform Journey
7th December, 2017
The Penryn based vintage lighting company, Skinflint, started when Chris and Sophie Miller were helping with the restructure of an old Victorian town house in London, whose owner wanted all the lighting not just to have a vintage aesthetic, but to be real and restored 20th century lighting. When they created this process, they decided to create a business out of sourcing and restoring these stunning vintage lights so they could work in the 21st century.
Since then, the very long process of refurbishing these lights has been recognised by many well-known home and interior publications such as Home and Garden and Elle Decoration. The process of restoring these lights without impacting their original design, and keeping the character intact, is part of the heritage of their business. There’s an intense procedure to refurbish these lights, including methods such as soda blasting, polishing, lacquering, and rewiring. Skinflint hasn’t just been refurbishing vintage lighting recently, but also re-designing their brand and website – which has been nominated in the Cornwall Live Digital Edge Awards.
“We launched the website over 2 months ago, and the early indications are all very positive. If we track user journeys, and ecommerce conversions, everything seems to be up.”
– Chris, Skinflint
Starting off with Oxford Innovation around three years ago with coach Geoff Winwood, and now working on their strategic direction with Transform coach Theda Gray, Chris and Sophie have been working hard to take Skinflint to a new level of growth and development.
“We initially approached Oxford Innovation to provide coaching and support on certain areas where we held a restrictive knowledge base, no one knows everything! From the initial sessions, we have then been able to drill down into core areas and really focus on growing the business. Once we had ‘let the coach in’, opened up, and introduced them to the inner workings of the business they became amongst many things, a great triangulation point between myself and my fellow director. Ultimately providing the confidence to develop many areas of the business leading to an increase in staffing levels and operational capacity. Strategic planning has provided confidence in areas that we may be lacking knowledge on, as no business owner knows everything.”
– Chris, Skinflint
Over the years, Skinflint have received huge press coverage, which was a great outcome of their hard work and innovative concept, as well as trading worldwide. Outwardly, they were doing great. On the inside of the business, however, it was decided that a new strategic direction would improve and benefit their position in the market. Theda has been working with Chris and Sophie on how to make key decisions for the business, pricing their products and line ups, formalising their processes, determining which clients to work with, as well as their financial and development reporting.
“Skinflint are extremely astute at running the business. Understanding what they wanted to achieve with the business going forward and how to make informed decisions was the challenge. As for recruitment, there are very good signs that they’ve managed to match skillsets with people in Cornwall as they find people locally to work for them. That’s the biggest thing: to look for people locally”
– Theda Gray, Transform business coach
With the support of our partners at Unlocking Potential, Chris and Sophie have recruited one employee and have created another role they are currently recruiting for. Despite being globally successful, they’re locally minded and employ from within the county and use suppliers that are based in Cornwall, therefore significantly contributing to the local economy.
On their experience with Oxford Innovation and how the Transform program has worked for them, their sessions seem to be productive and successful so far:
“Every growing business faces challenges on a daily basis, often connected with areas the company have had little experience in, it has been extremely productive, engaging and ultimately assuring, to have access to a network of knowledgeable specialists in any given area.”
– Chris, Skinflint