Polly (left) and Sarah (right) design and produce beautiful and distinctive luxury garden parasols for their company PARASOL-UK, run from their home bases on the Essex/Suffolk border and Wiltshire. Polly originally founded Parasol-UK with her daughter when they had difficulty sourcing an elegant garden parasol that also had a scene-setting interior lining; they also wanted one which was available in a user-friendly, hassle-free sale and delivery format. It had proved impossible, so after Sarah joined the company, they decided to make their own…

Whilst doing extensive research for the parasols, we also sourced additional lifestyle pieces which we now refer to as ‘The Irresistibles’ – because that’s exactly what they are – irresistible!”

Polly, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “Sarah, parasols fascinate me – I love seeing them on the beach or in a garden; they immediately suggest relaxation. How did the use of parasols originally come about?”

S: “Parasols were originally used as hand-held fashion accessories, and to ensure shade. The larger garden parasols, like ours, were developed as a practical, easily transportable, means of sun protection and are increasingly important due to the harmful effects of UV radiation, that we’re all so aware of. Parasols also have an ability to instantly set an intimate and romantic scene…”

Our customers have real style and an appreciation of the benefits of surrounding themselves with something a bit quirky and special…”

Sarah, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “Your parasols are made in India; why did you make that choice?”

S: “Yes, the parasols are made in Rajasthan by a really charming family that works for us exclusively; we chat with them every day and we support four generations of their family through this work. Their skills are superb and they share our passion for the parasols and ensuring they’re absolutely perfect; the hand-polished and turned wood frames are each a work of art in themselves. Each canopy is produced by hand for its own frame, ensuring a perfect fit… and the block-printing inside supports a very important industry in India, bringing a ‘soul’ to each piece that just cannot be replicated in screen printing.  We love the way the romance of India meets the best of Western efficiency in our finished wares – and the enthusiasm and commitment of ‘our’ family in India is a huge ongoing motivation for us…”

Sustainably produced white cedar is used for the frames – being versatile, sustainable,  durable and attractive; the canopy itself is made from cotton canvas with a block printed interior and we use a resin crank and a thick cotton pulley cord…”

Polly, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “Between the two of you, who creates the designs and what inspires them?”

S: “We both discuss the designs, taking into consideration the different settings our parasols are often seen in – from English country gardens to glamorous mediterranean poolsides through to a party house near a beach, a city terrace, a roof garden… and we also work with clients on bespoke orders to achieve exactly the look they want. We’re constantly looking out for inspiration! We do have to run endless design samples as what we initially believe will look perfect, can often either overwhelm or underperform in reality…”

NS: “Are there any major issues with creating your collection, and if so, how are they overcome?”

P: “There are two – delivery and production – and, by far, our biggest headache is the shipping; the upheaval of war in Europe and the problems in the Red Sea have really impacted both manufacturing prices and logistics, however we are supported by a very good shipping company and can hopefully ride this current storm. The second challenge is being able to keep up with demand – we don’t want to cut any corners as the quality is so important to us, and we also want to maintain the best working conditions for our craftsmen, so there  are only so many parasols which can be made per week…” 

For us, true success lies in us producing a product which people love and buy. We were always clear that we wanted our parasols to be a source of pleasure at every stage, for the people making them, for us designing and then selling them, and for the people who own them. A huge extra bonus is that the sales of our parasols now benefit others…”

Polly, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “Which of your additional lifestyle products are the most popular with clients?”

S: “We have our own range of soft furnishings (seen in the image above) made from exquisite vintage ‘kanthas’ – embellished cloth; each piece is unique and hand-embroidered. The cushions are particularly popular and are available in a wide range of soft colours which suit any interior decor scheme.  However, our best sellers are our cotton bath mats, reworked with a new cotton binding; they are soft underfoot, machine washable, and are so much more interesting and stylish than a standard plain mat!”

We took a stand at Badminton Horse Trials for the first time in 2023 and although it was the most torrential rain and deep mud for the duration, we had a fantastic show, and will be there again this May…”

Sarah, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “You both come across as very conscientious about the environment and the individuals you come into contact with…”

P: “Yes, we’re extremely proud partners of the National Garden Scheme, a superb British charity which has given over £70M to various charities. Almost everyone will know someone who has benefited directly from these donations as the causes include Macmillan Nursing, Marie Curie plus other nursing, end of life care, research and support organisations. We donate 3% of all parasol sales to the National Garden Scheme which otherwise raises money through the generosity of the owners of beautiful gardens who open their gardens on behalf of the NGS…”

We have absolute confidence in our parasols, and it’s easy to be enthusiastic about a product we truly love and when we receive such fabulous feedback, as we do. Our parasols are superb quality; we give the best possible customer service and we’re completely reliable…”

Polly, partner, Parasol-UK

NS: “I’m sure your parasols really appeal to those who want to add extra elegance to their already beautiful gardens – where are you most proud to have seen your products being used?”

S: “This is a very tricky one! We obviously protect all our high-profile and celebrity parasol owners’ identities very closely unless they choose to show them on social media, but it is a very proud moment when we see their order, send out the parasol, and having received it, they then purchase another within the week!  Really, going anywhere and seeing one of our parasols looking glorious gives us a real buzz, and sitting down with our own families under our own creation is no exception!”


INSTAGRAM: @parasoluk

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