Lighting Bristol and Beyond. We Are Turning 15!

According to statistic, only 25% of small businesses survive 15 years and more. We just turned 15.
So what is our secret?


How it started.


James and Marcela-1-1I remember the day when James and I walked to the bank and set the business account. I remember the arctic lorry blocking the road in front of our house in Bristol, delivering lighting on a palette. 

I remember when the phone rang and I had to take a payment for £25,000 over the phone, for the first time.

We didn’t know where the journey was going to take us. We were just two young people, full of energy and a vision that goes beyond calling the business "James Pomphrey Lighting."

James worked in lighting  for almost 10 years, when we first met. Those natural daylight led panels in London offices that are still around, they are mostly his handy work. I was working for a cycling clothing brand, opening new accounts across Europe and enjoying cycling in beautiful places with my clients. 


Shortly after we met in 2008, we decided that refurbishing a huge Georgian house in Bristol wasn’t challenging enough. So while we spent hours stripping the wall papers off and ripping the plasterboard ceilings down, we came up with an idea of setting the business up. And 299 Lighting was born, on June the 6th 2009.

James spent days grafting, driving to London, talking to clients. In the evenings, he would do the invoices, issue delivery notes, then we would pack the lighting and get it ready to be dispatched. For big orders, he would deliver to sites himself.

I worked on the website. With no knowledge of lighting, lighting criteria or the built environment industry for that matter, I tried my best. I knew I couldn't compete with the men in grey suits, talking about  lux levels and outputs. So, I decided to talk about lighting differently. I turned my weakness into our strength.

And that has been our philosophy from day one. Be different and do things our way.



Believe in each other.


We arrived on a scene as a bit of an underdog. One man at the front, who knew what he was doing. Supported by me, who couldn’t speak or write English very well. I have only been in the UK for 4 years at this stage. But James always believed in me and my capabilities. The website, the branding, and our marketing has always been my baby. He has never interfered with the way I wanted it look like and sound like. I believed in him and his way of building the operations and doing the business.



The strength of the wolf is in its pack.


We won’t be the first who say this. But it’s so true. Hire people who are better than you and allow them to grow. There has been some fantastic people that worked with us over the years. Many of them have been nicked by the big guys. Hello, Fagerhult!

Quite a few stayed through the thick and thin. One stands out. Elman Lewis has been with us for 11 years, maybe longer. His technical knowledge is second to none. He is also very patient fixing my IT disasters and forever helps me recover my forgotten passwords. 


Elman - Lighting Expert-1GoApe 9-6-2023 team picture

The fantastic Mr Elman Lewis.



Stay relevant.


When covid hit, we just launched our CPD program. The timing was incredible. We delivered our amazing CPDs ( yes, they were pretty incredible and NBS rated them pretty highly) to over 2000 participants. Our CPDs were totally new format, like nobody else's.


WELL standard CPD review post 1-1-1All CPD visual-1



Practice what you preach.

We spend half of our working life looking at photos of beautiful offices and delivering fantastic lighting to enhance these spaces. Giving our team a home that is stimulating, comfortable and sustainable was our top priority. So after years of occupying a blunt industrial unit, we moved into our fabulous office in July 2021. It was a huge confidence boost and a milestone for our business. Read the 299 Lighting HQ case study.


2c Flowers Hill Bristol2c Flowers Hill Bristol

2c Flowers Hill Bristol2c Flowers Hill Bristol


Giving back.


There comes a time when your business is ready to start helping other businesses. For us, it was the time when we set up Capsule Properties, just outside of our main HQ. The capsules are occupied by start-ups, small traders, makers and fixers. We, as a team, help them out, when they need help with the IT, when they need a space for a meeting, or share lunch with us. Our team has learned to give and share with others and help them to grow. And that has led to the idea of working with Young Bristol, a charity supporting young people outside of school hours. James has combined his love for padel, the fastest growing racket sport, and charity and came up with an idea of Padel networking sessions.

Learn more about Padel Networking here!


Padel Networking for charity


Office Lighting Design Consultation

Read Next.