Alice Palmer

Alice Palmer

Brightening a Room

Alice Palmer’s appreciation for lighting is partly due to the sensibility she developed through working at her parents’ restaurant in Chelsea, and partly inherited from her father, who she says has “always been obsessed with lighting”.


When Alice was younger, she attended art school for a year and then went on to work at and manage some of her family’s restaurants. There, she learned business, customer service, and the importance of setting an ambience through interior design.


“The lighting is very important in a restaurant so I was always paying attention to that. Obviously, candlelight is the most beautiful of lights—low lighting is just so much more attractive,” she smiles.

“Even in my home, I always had to have the lighting just right. I knew what I wanted when I made my space: lamps, everywhere. But I couldn’t find the perfect lampshade. They were either really mass-produced and the fabrics were just not beautiful, or they were really expensive.” 


When Alice got pregnant, she decided to stop working at the restaurant and took a 3 month interior design course. In the process, she remodeled someone’s flat, sold it, and then did the same with her own home.


Brightening a Room

Alice Palmer’s appreciation for lighting is partly due to the sensibility she developed through working at her parents’ restaurant in Chelsea, and partly inherited from her father, who she says has “always been obsessed with lighting”.


When Alice was younger, she attended art school for a year and then went on to work at and manage some of her family’s restaurants. There, she learned business, customer service, and the importance of setting an ambience through interior design.


“The lighting is very important in a restaurant so I was always paying attention to that. Obviously, candlelight is the most beautiful of lights—low lighting is just so much more attractive,” she smiles.

“Even in my home, I always had to have the lighting just right. I knew what I wanted when I made my space: lamps, everywhere. But I couldn’t find the perfect lampshade. They were either really mass-produced and the fabrics were just not beautiful, or they were really expensive.” 

“If I see you that way, with love, I must let your grief into my heart, your story into my heart, I must stand up for you when you’re in harm’s way. What happens when we see George Floyd as our brother, or Breonna as a sister, migrant children as our own sons and daughters—what would we risk?” 

“I used what I learned in the course to draw up the interior architecture. I did all my window designs and other small things like that, which was really fun and I knew I wanted to continue to do something similar but it was hard to know exactly what."

Eventually, Alice taught herself to sew. She was still struggling to find the right lighting and remembered she had always liked the style of the lampshades in her husband’s grandmother’s home. 


“I loved the little covers, the scrunchy ones—they're very old school English—and I’d always wanted to make them, so I did. Originally, I made them for myself because I didn’t want to buy fast furniture, but my friends would come over and be like ‘Can you make me one? I’ll buy one, I’ll buy one.’ So, it sort of took off on Instagram. Soon, I was pregnant again, in lockdown, and making lampshades in the kitchen with my two other children running around. It was mad!”

This is a theme we’ve come across a couple of times in our DVF Woman features, nurturing a new business while raising little ones during a global pandemic. (Even Diane herself was pregnant with her first child when she moved to the United States to start this brand.) There isn’t one right way to go about achieving goals when you have kids to take care of, but, as Alice says, “Raising children is the hardest work you can do, but running this business and not being reliant on my husband was ultimately the best for me. I always wanted to make my own money by being a creative. That’s always been the dream.”


“I used what I learned in the course to draw up the interior architecture. I did all my window designs and other small things like that, which was really fun and I knew I wanted to continue to do something similar but it was hard to know exactly what."

This idea of summoning ancestors is more accessible than one would think. Valarie channels the energy of her grandfather, a biological ancestor, but she also sits at the feet of Black thinkers like Dr. King, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks.

Alice credits Instagram for democratizing the marketplace, saying, “Creatives are usually not so business-minded, but Instagram makes it so that the audience connects with the creator. I think it’s inspiring. I hope that someone can see my shop and go ‘If she can do it, then so can I.’”

Since growing her business beyond the kitchen and into an office, Alice has expanded her selection to include lamp bases and bed valances. She's made it a point to employ only women and to source materials and manufacturing from fair trade and woman-run businesses.

“As soon as we put people up on pedestals and make them into saints, we sap them of all their power. It’s so easy to say ‘Well, they were saints. They were superhuman. That means I don’t have to try and be like them.’ What does it mean to see them in their messiness and faults? We can begin to acknowledge our own vulnerabilities and faults and say ‘I too am worthy enough to be able to show up and live a life dedicated to love.’”

This aspect of TikTok is one that puts a smile on Sera’s face as she talks about it. She appreciates that the platform works with the user to offer a feed that will generate joy and connect them with like-minded content.

As her career has progressed, Sera has adopted a form of living that doesn’t rely on long-term planning and, for her, it has made all the difference.

“I used to plan things heavily in advance because I’m such a perfectionist. But nowadays, it’s liberating to not have a 5-year plan. The pandemic was a great example of how sometimes things don’t go the way we expect them to and, often, the opportunity you weren't expecting is even better than the one you thought you wanted. So, it’s good to have an idea of who you are, what your core values are, and to have some sort of compass, but life happens when you’re busy making other plans. If you have a short-term vision that makes you happy, you know, just do that. Worry about the next thing when that time comes. I wasn’t always able to do that, but now that I’m trying to be in the moment, things feel more optimistic.”


To keep up with Sera's work, follow her on LinkedIn here.

“As soon as we put people up on pedestals and make them into saints, we sap them of all their power. It’s so easy to say ‘Well, they were saints. They were superhuman. That means I don’t have to try and be like them.’ What does it mean to see them in their messiness and faults? We can begin to acknowledge our own vulnerabilities and faults and say ‘I too am worthy enough to be able to show up and live a life dedicated to love.’”

Check out Alice's lampshades on alicepalmer.co and keep up with her on IG @alicepalmerco.

The photographer for this feature was Alicia Waite, her website is aliciawaite.com and you can keep up with her on IG @lissiwaite.

Shop Alice's Looks