Just escaped from a 15 year career in IT consultancy, Bright Life Ltd was founded by Jon Parr who experienced “unusual” tents for the first time at a story-telling festival on Dartmoor. He came away inspired and with a settled determination to own a yurt. Perhaps by investing in a couple of other “unusual” tents, a business could be started...
Springtime saw the delivery of the first “Stunning Tents” - a 16’ Yurt, a 16’ tipi and an Ouled Nail. A home-made website, home-made A5 flyers, and a lot of legwork generated around 20 bookings in that first year. But it very quickly became clear that running a business based on small tents like these wasn’t going to be viable. So the search was on for something “unusual” but much bigger, and that’s when he came across a company in the far north of Sweden with an unpronounceable name (since renamed thankfully). At the end of 2004, an order for one Giant Hat was placed…
Bigger tents mean bigger events, and bigger events require a more sophisticated approach. So we engaged a brand designer to design our logo, our “look and feel” and our website. The orders really started to come in then; we ended the season with six Giant Hats.
Time to consolidate a little. We added a few more, smaller tents to our range, but concentrated this year on having a “fully booked” season with the 6 Giant Hats
Adding more Giant Hats for the 2007 season, meant that Jon could no longer lead every rental job himself, so we recruited our first Crew Chief. Another fully booked season ensued.
During the summer of 2007, in his back garden, Jon met for the first time Duncan Russell and Tom Bucknell who came to view a camping tipi and fell in love with the Giant Hats. Determined to set up a tipi rental business they made a booking in December to prove their business plan.
By the end of 2007 it started to become obvious that we needed to make another step up in terms of the size of events we could cater for; the limitations in linking Giant Hats meant that we couldn’t provide workable spaces for events above a couple of hundred people. So we made the decision to invest in two Saddlespan tents. Ultra modern, with a different feel to our other tents, and very definitely bigger they allowed us to create spaces up to 18 metres x 54 metres clearspan.
In January we received a sales order for three new Giant Hats from Duncan & Tom but due to restrictions with the supply chain we were unable to deliver so they went back to the drawing board but our paths would cross many more times after this.
We added yet more Giant Hats to our rental stock. Another Crew Chief. And the introduction of the Saddlespan tents. A very busy year.
And in the quiet season... Eureka! We developed and tested new techniques for linking the Giant Hats making it possible to build structures up to 30m wide and as long as you like. Whilst we were at it we designed and built tipi-coloured walkway and solid oak double doors to make an impressive entrance to the Giant Hats. Walkway and wooden doors transform the comfort of winter events, as well as improving the sophistication of tipi events generally, opening up new possibilities
Our busiest year ever by a considerable margin, but unfortunately having to turn away a lot of Giant Hat business as we were fully booked. The Saddlespan was not going out that much, and we had “cracked” the bigger configurations, so it seemed an obvious move to sell the Saddlespan and invest in more Giant Hats. And that’s exactly what we did
We added four more Giant Hats, another Crew Chief, an Operations Chief to manage the team, and some new techniques to broaden the range of events for which tipis can cater. The inaugural Ride Across Britain led us to meeting up with Duncan from 10x15 Structures again where we both helped shelter the riders between John O'Groats and Lands End delivering a complex series of base camps racing against the clock and riders from camp to camp.
Wanting to concentrate on selling the Giant Hat tents into other English speaking markets Jon approached 10x15 to consider the options. Neither Duncan or Tom had lost any of their original enthusiasm for the Giant Hats from their original desire to purchase them back in 2007 and when given the opportunity it was a simple matter of convincing their third business partner, Terry Yoell, that this was not to be missed. Over the previous years they had built a very successful business specialising in another unique temporary structure, Liquid Canvas ™ tents and were now in the position to evolve.
Over the Christmas break the paperwork was signed and we moved both companies into a shared office alongside our two warehouses. Jon's new business also rented one of the office spaces and we retained a very close working relationship, with him acting as the supplier of our Giant Hat tents and us supplying him with tea and biscuits on occasion!
Adding yet more Giant Hats to our stock led us to deliver the largest group of Giant Hats yet with 21 of them forming a giant conference centre for a FTSE senior management conference. With breakout zones, a presentation area for 350 and a black tie dinner along with a bespoke platform over a lake it was simply the most unique and creative setting for the event. Amongst a myriad of private functions that are by definition private we also developed a new technique for branding the tents with a marketing logo or slogan wrapped around the apex
We’ll continue to innovate and push forwards the boundaries of what is possible. Watch this space...