Illuminated canvases help mum light up night-time

The Oxford Times: BRAINWAVE: Rhian and Jez Kicks with children, from left, Idris, Carys and Arlo Buy this photo BRAINWAVE: Rhian and Jez Kicks with children, from left, Idris, Carys and Arlo

A fruitless search for a night light to soothe her young daughter led a mum to create her own.

Now, less than two years later, the illuminated canvases are selling like hot cakes and customers include actresses Amanda Holden, Denise van Outen and Jamie Oliver’s wife Jools.

Rhian Kicks, 35, and husband Jez, 46, live in Great Milton with Carys, six, Arlo, three and four-month-old Idris.

Ms Kicks explained: “When Carys was younger, I bought several night lights for her but they all made her teddies cast shadows on the wall and frightened her.

“Also she was at the age where she wanted to dismantle them.”

The couple, who have backgrounds in design and photography, started experimenting with techniques used for picture framing.

They came up with the idea of a framed piece of art that was lit using 20 battery-powered LED lights pushed through the canvas.

They hung it on Carys’ wall, where it gave off a soft, warm glow.

Ms Kicks added: “In a dark room, the illuminated canvases shine the light back and illuminate the whole picture so there are no shadows.

“It has only the power of an alarm clock, so there’s no fire risk and it can be left on all night.”

Not only did Carys love her new wall-mounted night light, when friends and family saw it they asked for some for them too.

The turning point came after they went to a Christmas fayre and sold 30 canvases.

The Illuminated Canvas website was launched in 2012 and includes children’s, wedding and home and Christmas ranges, as well as personalised canvases made to order with specific initials, names or images.

The products are also stocked by a number of shops and websites, including notonthehighstreet and starting from next month, johnlewis.com Orders for the canvases, which are available in two sizes and retail from £50-80, come from as far away as Dubai, Singapore and Australia.

Annual turnover has already reached £130,000 and they employ two part-time staff.

Ms Kicks finds running a business fits well with being a mum-of-three.

She explained: “I am used to putting the kids to bed and then working for a couple of hours in the evening.

“We went to the spring fair at Birmingham’s NEC recently and took Idris along because I was breast feeding.

“While I was there, we had a business meeting with John Lewis about supplying its website and Idris was in on the whole thing.

“Working from home is great. In fact, with three young children, I couldn’t have done what we’ve done, otherwise.”

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