Winning awards for our innovative party tent hire.
We are excited to announce we won Sussex Business Innovation of the Year at The Business Women Excellence Awards!
Celebrating the very best of women in business, the Sussex final was held on Friday 25th November in a very glamorous affair at The Hilton. Katherine now has some time to prepare before heading to the grand finale, going head to head with the other county winners for Business Innovation of the Year.
To commemorate, we asked Katherine a few questions on how The Arabian Tent Company has grown from a fledgling idea into the innovative business it is today.
With some very strong competition, Katherine was obviously delighted to have won, and with winning Business Innovation being ‘a very cool one, at that’, we asked Katherine her past, present and future plans for The Arabian Tent Company.
So, Katherine, tell us how The Arabian Tent Company came about.
It all started when I was searching the whole of the UK for a suitable party tent, and after finding nothing but white PVC marquees, I realised I would have to try a little harder to find a party tent hire!
As I’d realised I had found a gap in the market, I set off on my quest to Morocco to talk to a man about a tent...The Moroccan tent I first bought (and infamously drove back to the UK strapped to the roof of my van) may not have been anything compared with the wondrous interiors The Arabian Tent Company boasts today, but it was the beginning of something new and different.
So how has The Arabian Tent Company developed?
Now 12 years later there is a range of tent interiors that are themed around a theme (like the Arabian or Bombay Boudoir) or were inspired by a film or Art (La Rouge was based on Moulin Rouge, and the William Morris tent was inspired by William Morris himself!) or were made through a collaboration with a client or artist (such as the Cornish Cream and English Tea tent) or were even inspired through travels (Our Viva la Fiesta was inspired by Mexico and was a collaboration with artist Rosita Bonita). I think that is what compelled people to our party tent hire; they are all using a variety of techniques to create the environment, from hand block printing, to embroidery and mirrorwork, screen-printing and applique.
There are also four further styles of tent, from a Moghul style tent, which is a design I bought from an engineer, and the Mini Pearl and Lulette which I designed and had made; and the Indra pole which is a pole tent using the Cornish Cream interior I had made in India. I have plans for a new super-structure based on all the benefits from using box-section aluminium framing to do with strength, waterproofing and modular building, with the beautiful finishing details you get from a canvas pole tent for our party tent hire selection.
Okay, so what made you feel you should go for it?
The desire has always been to create environments and structures that are beautiful and inspiring. When I looked fifteen years ago to find a marquee that could be put up in an ancient wood, everything I found would have stood out and looked ugly, and back then I couldn’t understand why you couldn’t find a tent that would have some character to it, to provide an inspirational back-drop to a party.
Since then I’ve created tented environments that give a party a personality, and I also developed the furniture and accessories to go with them to create a complete look.
What’s the future for The Arabian Tent Company?
From starting the business by seeing what I felt was an obvious gap in the market, the desire to create now is more driven by wanting to see where this can go for our party tent hire, and innovate with structures as well as interiors. Whilst I feel the frame tents that I started with were a great beginners tent, I’d like to make the outside as important as the inside visually.
We’ve also designed a Christmas offering this year, with four key themes – vivacious Bright and Bold, Rustic Nordic, whimsical Winter Wonderland and regal Three Kings.
We’re also at the point where we are able to offer young crew from this season the opportunity to work through the winter allowing us to further train them to be able to promote them to more experienced levels, with higher rates of pay. We also promote gender equality, which can be further read in our #HeforShe blog.
And whilst we do this, we also create training programmes for our crew to go through to teach them all about our structures, the décor techniques we use to decorate them, whilst also putting them through training to give them the necessary H&S certifications to ensure they’re all being up-skilled as they work for us. This allows a seasonal business to create a framework to be able to retain staff that need to be trained in what we do. We recently did a ‘Draping Boot Camp’ which went down a treat!
Currently I’m keeping my ear very close to the ground listening and probing to see what is going on post-Brexit.
Being a luxury good, I’m aware of the sensitivities that people are currently feeling, so am aware of the need to be able to respond quickly if I feel a change in confidence.
Therefore next year may be a challenging one but I’m sure we’ll relish the ride!