Your Interview Mara Rypacek Miller

Mara Rypacek Miller, Managing Director, Industville..jpg

Mara Rypacek Miller

Designer, Director, Entrepreneur, Producer, Product
United Kingdom
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).

I founded Industville nearly a decade ago, following a successful career in International Marketing & Business Development. In the decade since its inception, Industville has grown from a small home business to an international enterprise with a team of craftsmen and artisans dedicated to producing lights of unparalleled quality. I founded the company after building an extensive background in international marketing and business development. In particular, my tenure with the likes of Volvo and AXA and other international companies was invaluable.

The business grew exponentially ever since then and now serves a huge range of customers and businesses worldwide, flourishing to become what it is today, a design led company with strong values for quality and sustainability, all the way from our artisan manufacturing to our end product.

Taking on this challenge has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me; I have had the opportunity to design our own products and make crucial decisions, lead a team, and experiment with different tactics in order to provide the best customer support possible. This process of keeping up with customer demands has been a great source of satisfaction for me, as it has given me the chance to hone my problem-solving skills. It has also enabled me to come up with innovative solutions to improve customer satisfaction levels, whilst making sure that our service quality remains at its highest level. Additionally, I get the chance to work closely with my colleagues and motivate them towards achieving our common goals. Moreover, I am able to use resources efficiently in order to get results in a timely manner, which further contributes towards positive experiences for our customers. All these aspects combine together to form an incredibly fulfilling activity that I enjoy doing every single day.

Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?

Running my own business was always an attractive prospect to me. Ever since I was a teenager, I had the desire to start something of my own and become an entrepreneur. This ambition led me to do something daring when I was 16 – opening a fast food ‘hole in the wall’ shop during my summer holidays. It was a great experience that helped me gain knowledge in all aspects of running a business – from basic operations to marketing. During this initial venture, I found that managing a business was incredibly rewarding and it gave me the drive to learn more about the subject.

This newfound love for business management led me to pursue a career in marketing and business operations management over several years, but my ultimate goal remained owning my own business. Things changed drastically when Industville started growing rapidly and taking off - finally allowing me to make this dream come true.

What project are you most proud of and why?

It’s hard to pick one project out of the many that we are proud to have been involved with. We have worked with hundreds of companies and designers, each bringing something unique to the table. It’s always inspiring to see how our products are used in different spaces, from minimalistic modern designs to robust industrial styles. Each design style has its own unique beauty. We are privileged to have been part of so many different projects, each one special in its own way.

We have worked with a variety of distinguished retail, leisure and hospitality companies such as Liberty, Next, Lush, Ted Baker, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero in addition to smaller scale interior projects and retail customers. We are also very proud to be involved in ongoing projects for clients such as Paul’s bakery, Superdry and Tissot where our products are installed around their worldwide network of stores. It's a real testament to our high quality and timeless products.

How does light inspire you?

When I started, it was difficult to get hold of desirable classic style industrial lighting, so I decided to make my own. I set up a little workshop and spent a couple of months restoring old lighting and furniture. For the designs, I took a lot of inspiration from my surroundings of the historic Royal Arsenal in London. Before too long, production became unsustainable as the demand was too high and my business grew rapidly. Initially my inspiration came from the past, nowadays my inspiration comes from trends and customer requests.

When I first set out to find something with a retro look for my home, I was quite disappointed. Everything I found was either too modern or too expensive. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and restore some vintage lighting and furniture pieces. I started by sourcing items from thrift stores, flea markets, and antique shops all over the city. I also looked online for interesting finds that had a unique charm about them. Once I had gathered enough materials, I set up a workshop. This is where the real fun began! Cleaning up old fixtures and restoring those that needed more care than others took time and patience but it was worth it in the end.

Although not every piece turned out exactly as planned, there were still several successes along the way. One of my favorite projects was an old lamp that had been damaged due to age and neglect, but after some sanding, polishing and painting it looked almost like new again! I managed to sell it with some substantial profit and that’s where the story began.

Drawing inspiration from the long-standing Royal Arsenal in London, I took full advantage of the area's cultural heritage as a source of creativity for my designs.

This investment into making unique designs quickly paid off, as within a few months demand began to exceed expectations - leading to an eventual growth that made this ‘one woman’ production unsustainable and led to partnerships with skilled craftsmen around the world.

When creating my handcrafted lighting fixtures, I took great care in sourcing top-quality materials from across the globe. From pure brass to copper, I was able to find the perfect materials for designing elegant and authentic pieces, allowing me to design top quality and original bespoke items for my customers - resulting in attractive luminaires that have been highly sought after among those looking for modern updates on vintage styles. Additionally, knowing the importance of keeping up with market trends, I strive to create fixtures that combine both timelessness and current trends - blending together aesthetics from years past with modern features like minimalistic shapes and lighting solutions.

What is your message for other Women In Lighting?

My advice is to remain adaptive while adhering to what makes you unique. Consider offering products and services that can be tailored to the individual customer, taking into account their needs, interests, and budget. Additionally, think about ways in which you can distinguish yourself from the competition by focusing on the quality of your offerings and providing exceptional customer service. This could be as simple as offering a personalised experience, or going the extra mile with product recommendations or additional services such as installation or maintenance. Offering discounts or loyalty programs are also great ways to further incentivise customers to keep coming back. Ultimately, by staying true to yourself and providing products and services that appeal to customers on an individual level, you will be able to stand out from the crowd. I am very proud that as a company we listen to our customers and react to market trends.

My company prides itself on being able to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to interior design trends. We have seen the industrial style change and evolve, and whilst it is still a popular look, the more traditional industrial designs are no longer as sought after. To ensure our products remain both relevant and attractive to customers, we have embraced a modern take on industrial design - 'Modern Sleek Industrial Style'. This approach combines aspects of classic industrial design with a refreshingly contemporary feel.

We strive to achieve this modern balance between traditional and new. We maintain a connection with our roots, whilst at the same time reflecting current trends in interior design.  This combination offers something fresh yet reassuringly familiar that can be appreciated across all styles. The post-modern age presents an exciting opportunity for interior designers to explore new ideas while embracing certain aspects of their heritage and authenticity. By taking on board both customer feedback and market trends, my company strives to provide an up-to-date selection of home decor items that stay true to traditional principles but with enough variation to make them truly special.

“My advice is to remain adaptive while adhering to what makes you unique. Consider offering products and services that can be tailored to the individual customer, taking into account their needs, interests, and budget.”

Selected portfolio:

Industville Lights in Brick & Liquor. Image Credit: Brick & LiquorINDUSTVILLE & Kinetic Workplace Limited. Image Credit: Kinetic Workplace Limited ( uk)Industville Project - Image Credit TissotIndustville Project - NextIndustville - Image Credit House Nine Design

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