Neil Longley – Fitter

Neil’s working life started at Delta Controls in West Molesey. Delta Controls built pressure instruments for the petrochemical industry and as Neil’s Dad worked there it seemed a good place to start. Over the course of his 6-year employment he learned many different aspects of the business, including computer work, stock-control and administrative work such as placing orders for parts. A chance conversation with his cousin (also his hairdresser) led to his next job as an apprentice curtain fitter. He joined Idolum in 2012 and works full-time fitting all our window treatments.

Hobbies Coarse fishing, photography, reading, DIY

Hates the M25!

Loves transforming a bare house into a beautiful house with lots of lovely curtains and blinds

Bren Pennell – Seamstress

Bren started work at 19 in the drapery section of Dunns Stores in Billingham – “Dunns Stores for better Value”. After moving to Surrey in her late twenties she worked with a local dressmaker making both clothes and upholstered items such as cushions and loose covers. She joined Idolum in 2003 and quickly became part of the team.

Bren lives with husband Dave and is queen of upcycling. Fabric and trimmings remnants are squirrelled away to be magically transformed later into all manner of things. She has 5 nieces & nephews who keep her busy at weekends.

Hobbies Travelling, dancing, making things

Hates making feather cushion pads

Loves packing finished items in their plastic

Oli Garcia – Seamstress

Oli taught herself to sew and had attended several pattern-cutting courses before she started to work professionally at 23. She joined a dressmaking atelier in Spain where they made clothes for, amongst others, the children of the King of Spain. In 1994 Oli and her husband Santiago moved to the UK and settled in Kingston upon Thames where they went on to have two daughters, Sylvie and Monica.

Oli joined Idolum in 2003 where her main speciality is making our beautiful Roman blinds. Her other speciality is making proper Spanish Tortilla – no Idolum party is complete without it and there are never any leftovers.

Hobbies Black & white movies, walking, reading, coffee & cake

Hates covering hem weights

Loves Roman blinds and pelmets

Lily Keates – Seamstress

Lily started her sewing career in 1982 when she worked for a company making camping equipment such as tents and awnings. She moved to Freemans, a large curtain workroom in Hersham, in 1990 where she stayed until joining Idolum in 2005.

Lily is a lifelong Elvis fan and has a huge collection of memorabilia including all the newspapers from the day he died. She has three grandchildren, all girls, and is enjoying teaching Maisie (9) how to sew.

Hobbies Elvis, being a great grandmother, crochet

Hates sewing faux suede (sore fingers)

Loves pinch pleat linen curtains

Pam Street – Seamstress

Pam started work in January 1963 as an apprentice curtain maker for Haynes in Ashtead. She recalls her first jobs were machining up linings and interlinings.

Haynes were a specialist workroom and over the years she learned skills such as hand-sewn pencil pleat headings (no tape) and cutting and making swags & tails from scratch. They also made buckram pelmets in-house and plenty of frilled covers for kidney-shaped dressing tables.

Pam was the first seamstress to join Idolum in 2001 and she keeps the younger girls on their toes. What she doesn’t know about soft furnishings quite simply isn’t worth knowing.

Hobbies Theatre, reading, walking and travelling

Hates Austrian blinds

Loves pinch pleats

Tracy Fordham – Seamstress

Tracy started work as an apprentice at the age of 16 in a small Greenwich workroom called Curtains Up. She honed her skills on hand-made swags and tails and curtains with lots of trimmings and edgings as was the fashion at the time.

Tracy joined Idolum in 2011 where her specialities are interlined curtains and hand-sewn sheers. She is a serial changer of curtains at home and is currently making her fourth pair for the kitchen! She is an amazing baker and always produces the most beautifully decorated cakes for staff birthdays and special occasions.

Hobbies Baking & decorating cakes, cats, sing-a-long films

Hates festoons

Loves stripes & checks

Abi Essex – Office Administrator

Abi’s first foray into the world of interior design came at 21 when she started work for J Décor in Epsom. She spent the following 8 years working in Surrey interiors retail outlets before joining Englishmen’s Castle in Leatherhead where she stayed for 15 years.

During that time, she was solely responsible for all the soft furnishing work including liaison with suppliers, selecting books for the library and visiting clients in their homes to discuss suitable treatments. The making of the soft furnishings was contracted out to several local firms, including Idolum.

When Idolum advertised for an office administrator in 2017 it seemed like the obvious career move for Abi as she was already familiar with the workroom processes and all the staff. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Hobbies Dancing, fitness, walking with Louis the dog

Hates Roman blind mechanisms (give her a batten & cleat any day)

Loves seeing new fabrics and trends, and chocolate

Cathy Waddington – Director

Cathy was taught to sew by her mum who was a keen dressmaker. They had an electric sewing machine at home and Cathy soon realised she could earn extra pocket money by taking in the legs of her friends’ jeans and shortening mini-skirts to microscopic proportions. In her teens she was always the belle of the ball at the annual village dance in something she had made herself. She can still recall the excitement of finding a pattern and the subsequent trip to Borovics in Berwick Street in London to choose the fabric.

A degree in Fashion & Textile Design seemed like a natural progression and in 1989 she graduated from Bath with a Bachelor of Education (Hons). When her son Daniel was born Cathy worked from home making curtains for friends and neighbours. This quickly developed into quite a business and was great for fitting in around the demands of a youngster.

In 1993 she joined a large showhouse design company in Chessington called Roomservice where she stayed for 8 years working firstly as a curtain estimator and then latterly as the deputy manager of the soft furnishing department. In 2001 she left to set up Idolum, finally rolling all her textiles, sewing and soft furnishings knowledge into one.

Hobbies Landscape photography, fitness and strength training and reading, arthouse movies

Hates swags & tails (all that dust gathering in the folds)

Loves clever use of trimmings