Wild Geese: Victoria Rothschild, co-owner of Rothschild & Bickers hand-blown glass company, England

Glass lighting company has clear vision

Victoria Rothschild with business partner Mark Bickers

Victoria Rothschild with business partner Mark Bickers

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 01:00

Hand-blown glass lighting is a speciality of the glass company co-owned by Vicki Rothschild from Killiney in Dublin.

Rothschild & Bickers, based in England, was established in 2007. Its clients include fashion brand Ted Baker, restaurant chain Nandos, Hilton hotels, Harrods and the Four Seasons hotels. Moving recently into retail, the company now numbers furniture seller Heals among its customers.

Rothschild studied glass at NCAD and the Birmingham International Glass Centre before doing a masters in the Royal College of Art London in 2001. There she Mark Bickers and the two began working on projects together, before establishing Rothschild & Bickers.

Working originally from the London Glass Works, they now lease a warehouse in Hertford, 40 minutes north of the capital. This gives them the space to house one “hot workshop” with a furnace where the glass is blown, a “cold workshop” where the glass light fittings are polished and cut, a workshop for wiring and electrical work and offices. Rothschild & Bickers employ five people including two apprentices and several part-time freelancers.

“Glass is really hard work and people need to be very dedicated and interested in working in glass, so our ‘apprentices’ are both graduates who will hopefully stay for about five years and train up. They assist the glass blowers,” says Rothschild.

Moving out of the city centre meant the business could expand in terms of size and production but also meant an investment of around £70,000 (€88,000) with the acquisition of a 10-year lease on the building, the purchase of a furnace and accompanying equipment and additional staff to cope with increased demand.

Their glass lights are all handblown in the workshop, electrical flexes are sourced from Belfast and their metal fittings are made by a family business in Birmingham.

Strong design

Originally making art glass or table glass (the type of glass item you buy in an art gallery or studio), Rothschild & Bickers gradually began to specialise in lighting. A reputation for strong design, specialised production and the ability to get projects completed on time and to specification has led to many other commercial projects, which form the backbone of the business.

“Myself and Mark were making art glass but really a lot of that production has fallen out of fashion and there is not a market for it anymore because so much nice stuff is being made in eastern Europe and available in Habitat and even Ikea. To make it by hand and sell it at the right price was becoming really impossible.

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