Beautiful Bunting was the brainchild of a fantastic lady called Zoe Tompsett who started by making bunting for a street party that she was organising. Zoe was constantly being asked to lend her bunting out and in 2008 decided to start Beautiful Bunting.
Twelve years later there are over thirty different designs and approximately 2.5km of Bunting available to hire.
Zoe ran the company for many years but after successfully opening a café in Lewes, decided that there just wasn’t enough time to run Beautiful Bunting as well and that’s where I come in…
We have been friends for many years, both of us having worked as Stage Managers in Theatre and then corporate events and I was very honoured when Zoe asked me if I would like to manage Beautiful Bunting for her. We bought another shed and moved some stuff out of my office so that we could fit all the bunting in.
I always knew that Zoe’s creations were stunning but opening the boxes and seeing the designs up close is such a treat. The designs are so well thought out and because the flags are oversized the impact they make is great.
I keep changing my mind about which one is my favourite, currently, it’s Vintage Country which is mostly white/ivory and made out of various different lace. It looks great when it’s hung up as the light goes through it. The reason that it’s my favourite is that it is the one I have chosen to put up at my own wedding in April and I can’t wait!
I love looking after Beautiful Bunting for many reasons. I still get to work in events and can fit the company around them. It also means that I can work from home which is great and gives me more time to spend with my seven-year-old daughter.
One of my favourite things about managing the company is the reactions of clients to the bunting.
Although bunting can add to any occasion, weddings are our most popular hires. Knowing how important all the little details are to the couple getting married, it is really important to me that when they open the box they get exactly what they had in their minds if not better.
I also love it when the bunting comes back having been really well looked after, sometimes I can open a box of bunting and wonder if it has been used at all.
I spend a lot of time checking the bunting before it goes out and washing and ironing it when it comes back. Our lounge is quite often full of drying bunting and we have put up extra washing lines in the garden so that we can dry full sets. All of the bunting has to be washed by hand, I know that Zoe once tried to wash some in a machine and spent a long time unknotting it afterwards.
Running a small business has been a bit of a learning curve for me, even though I have been a freelancer for all of my adult life. In events you are the person delivering, you are there making it happen and making sure it happens right. Every time I hand a box over to the courier I have a little panic inside, it’s the control freak in me I guess. For the record, they have never let me down.
Marketing is a big thing and one that I am still finding my way with. I am in the process of having the website updated by flymedia.co.uk so hopefully, that will be up and running soon. I’m also looking forward to learning how to run the website and update it myself.
I’ve had a couple of exciting bookings since I took over, a last-minute booking from The Royal Horticultural Society for the flower show at Hampton Court and just before Christmas ‘Time for Tea’ which is another one of my favourites and one of the most popular designs, was taken on location for a new drama called ‘We Hunt Together’ which is coming out in the Spring on Alibi.
‘Time for Tea’ has teacups appliquéd on to the flags and is a great effect.
A lot of the bunting includes appliqué, Rosali bunting has bunting appliquéd on to the bunting which always makes me smile.
My top tip for anyone looking for bunting is not to make your own, it is incredibly time-consuming, so much more time consuming than you think it will be. The first time I made bunting was for our daughters 2nd birthday with Phil (my soon to be husband) helping me. I had always admired Zoe’s bunting and we decided to make our own. I had a very old Bernina sewing machine which had been retired from the school that my mother was a teacher at and needed constant love and patience to use. We made about 50 metres and seriously underestimated how long it would take. It was gone 2 in the morning on her birthday when we finally turned the sewing machine off, having started it two weeks earlier.
All of Beautiful Bunting’s flags are edged and lots of the designs are double layered with appliqué or peephole designs, each 10-metre string takes approximately a day to make and sometimes more depending on the complexity of the design.
So, what’s next for Beautiful Bunting?
New website, try and embrace Twitter and get better at marketing are at the top of my list.
I have a new sewing machine now as I was fortunate enough to be left some money by my Godmother and bought myself a brand new Bernina. She loved to sew and I think of her every time I use it.
I am not currently planning on making any new designs although I am regularly nagged for something in Harry Potter colours.
The most important thing to me is to make sure that I keep up the high standards that Zoe set and to make sure that every design looks it’s best and continues to make people happy and enhance whatever occasion they have hired it for.