Friday Folks: Keeley Harris

'Vintage Arcade This Way' sign

We first met today’s Friday Folks interviewee, Keeley Harris, quite a few years ago now. She was, and still is, the organiser of a vintage fair we attended that was held at the beautiful Victoria Baths in Manchester. Since then our paths cross regularly, both online and in person. We’ve featured her on our blog before, when we’ve talked about the fair and when we reviewed her book – more of that and much more below – read on!

Keeley Harris

Who are you & what do you do?

My name is Keeley Harris and I’ve been head honcho at Discover Vintage since 2009, running various vintage events each and every year. My biggest event is the Festival of Vintage, which happens once a year at York Racecourse. That’s the one I’m planning for at the moment as it’s this month (23rd & 24th April). It takes 6 months of preparation as it offers lots more than just a typical vintage fair. We are two stages filled with entertainment, workshops to organise and a massive classic vehicle display to arrange amongst other things. Visitors come from across the UK; I’m proud that it’s seen as a key event in the Vintage Social calendar.

Festival of Vintage head-in-the-hole board

How did you get into the business?

I’ve always sold vintage, even with my dad as a child (quite a few years ago). When I moved back to Leeds in 2008, I started selling at fairs. I quickly realised that I could use my skills as an event manager (former proper job) to create really fab vintage events! Hence Discover Vintage was launched in 2009. Then, in 2011, I started the Festival of Vintage as I noticed a gap in the market for a large-scale festival in the north of the UK.

Vintage bread and biscuit tins on a stall at the Festival of Vintage, York

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by my customers each and every day, the stall holders and visitors are the ones that give me ‘light bulb’ moments for new ideas. I love chatting to them to find out all about what they want from an event. My inspiration drives me to create new events that are unique and interesting, offering something people don’t always expect. I’d also say that entrepreneurs and the wider business world give me massive inspiration and make me feel that anything is possible. I’m very driven and love working hard to create the best events I can, there’s no better feeling than the end of a fabulous event!

'Style Me Vintage -home' book by Keeley Harris

What has been your greatest success?

Writing a book is my greatest success. I have mild dyslexia, so writing doesn’t come naturally to me and I had to lock myself away from everything for a few months so that I could put every effort into getting it just right. The huge sense of achievement in seeing my book on the bookshelves of many stores gave me a warm glow of excitement. However, I have to say that planning a big festival all by myself is probably a close second!

Vintage stall at the Festival of Vintage in York

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the vintage business?

I would advise not to treat a vintage business as a hobby and give it real commitment if you want to succeed. Value your customers and look after them, they tend to return again and again. Embrace social media in all its forms. Be prepared to spend a percentage of your income on advertising as you can’t expect people to come and find you!

Vintage VW campervan at the Festival of Vintage, York

All images (except book) ©Laura and James Adams, Grandma Eileen’s

Win tickets to the Ideal Home Show!

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Thomas Sanderson conservatory shutters

We’re pleased to offer our readers the opportunity to win tickets for them and a friend to visit the Ideal Home Show taking place at Olympia in London.

Thomas Sanderson bedroom shutters

Excitement’s building at Thomas Sanderson as their team of expert designers puts the finishing touches to their show-stopping presence at this year’s Ideal Home Show (running from 18 March – 3 April 2016). We’ll let you know if your a winner in a fortnight’s time (Saturday 12th March) so you’ll have a week to plan your trip!

Thomas Sanderson kitchen shutters

Thomas Sanderson is the main sponsor of ‘A Traditionally British Home’, one of the full-size houses within the show, which they’ve styled in conjunction with celebrity designer Linda Barker.

Thomas Sanderson sitting room shutters

Five winners will each win a pair of tickets to this year’s Ideal Home Show, where you can tour every room of the four-bed house to see stunning styling trends, be inspired by the hottest home colour schemes for 2016 and learn more about Thomas Sanderson’s stylish, energy-saving solutions and home automation window blind products.

To win a pair of tickets just leave a comment below telling us about your dream window dressings. Like/follow us and Thomas Sanderson on social media for extra entries!

Ideal Home Show 2016 tickets

Shared on: Superluckyme | The Prizefinder | Loquax

David Whitehead relaunch

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David Whitehead relaunch event at Broad Leys, Windermere

This weekend, we attended the David Whitehead relaunch and bicentenary.

Front of Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

It was held at Broad Leys, home to Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club – a beautiful Charles Voysey-designed Arts & Crafts building.

Arts & Crafts decorative fireplace vent grille featuring birds and trees

There were wonderful architectural features wherever you looked – even down to tiniest details such as this fireplace vent grille… and of course, stunning views out over the lake.

View of Lake Windermere from Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

It takes a lot to compete with that. Fortunately, we were there to celebrate the relaunch of six of their classic fabric designs. Compete – they certainly did!

Rolls of relaunched David Whitehead fabric

We first met Jill & Bernard Laverty, the current owners of David Whitehead & Sons Ltd, a few years ago. They contacted us after we blogged about an amazing discovery of unused vintage fabrics that had laid untouched for 50 years in a store room – many of them were rolls manufactured by David Whitehead. We shared a cuppa initially and later on visited them for lunch. We talked all things David Whitehead – the history of production, their archive and future potential.

Cushions covered in relaunched David Whitehead fabrics in bay window of Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

At that point in time, David Whitehead had stopped making fabrics and were concentrating on other products. Jill in particular was bitten by the bug and keen to explore the possibilities of a textile range. She bought vintage fabric samples and visited museum archives.

Samples of original vintage David Whitehead fabrics

The company then set about looking into the production of some of their classic designs, copyright ownership, a future re-launch, press & marketing, new website etc! And here we were celebrating the culmination of all their efforts – an amazing achievement from those initial early chats – what a journey they’ve been on!

Samples of original vintage David Whitehead fabrics with antique wooden bobbins and page from a vintage Ambassador magazine fashion shoot featuring Whitehead fabrics

We had a wonderful lunch surrounded by the relaunched fabrics. There were products such as cushions and recovered chairs to show potential uses, stands & displays portraying the company history and some of their great designers – Marion Mahler, Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi, Jacqueline Groag, Henry Moore, John Piper, Terence Conran… what names!

Marian Mahler display including stool covered in relaunched yellow fabric from her original design

There was a film history showing and fabric bunting dotted about the venue – even the waiting staff were wearing David Whitehead fabric aprons.

Display including samples of Sir Terence Conran's original fabric designs for David Whitehead

And onto one of those great design names – Sir Terence Conran, as he is now, attended the relaunch and made a short speech about the significance of David Whitehead in his own life and the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit of the company in the post-war years around the time of the Festival of Britain. What a pleasure it was to share a table with him!

Jill Laverty with friend Kathy and Sir Terence Conran at the David Whitehead relaunch event

He expressed his opinion that the current owners share the same entrepreneurial spirit and that he was delighted to see the textiles coming into production again – and that he would happily help with their publicity in any way he could.

Lunch at David Whitehead relaunch event

The fabrics are being produced by Standfast & Barracks, so it’s production in Lancashire once again which is great – heritage combined with modern production techniques to produce a top quality product.

Selvedge from relaunched David Whitehead fabric

And so to the future – well, the sky’s the limit. Will Jill and Bernard sell the fabrics wholesale? Will they make homeware products using their classic designs? There were no shortage of ideas flying around from tea towels to dog coats!

The six relaunched David Whitehead fabric patterns

Whatever they choose to do, we’re sure it will be a great success. They’ve obviously got great vision and drive to reach this point, they’re passionate and determined. These wonderful vintage designs (and perhaps new ones) will arrive on the market place with a huge impact.

Bunting made from relaunched David Whitehead fabric

And on a personal note – you couldn’t wish to meet a lovelier couple which just adds to the goodwill we feel for them as things move forward. So many thanks to Jill & Bernard for inviting us – we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Lamplighter Festival 2014

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owl lantern in the Lamplighter Festival in Todmorden

The Lamplighter Festival brightened up our evening dog walk here in Todmorden on Saturday.

Lanterns canalside at Todmorden's Lamplighter Festival 2014

 We took a camera along and hope our snaps capture the atmosphere.

Fish lantern at Todmorden's Lamplighter Festival 2014

Todmorden sits in in a steep-sided valley so you could stand above the town and watch the parade as it meandered through the streets which was very pretty.

Globe lantern at the Todmorden Lamplighter Festival 2014

We then moved in for a closer look at the creations and their operators, listen to the drummers and view the more stationary installations.

Lanterns in the shape of houses and Stoodley Pike at Todmorden's Lamplighter Festival

The festival seems to combine quite an ancient tradition with a futuristic feel too – a bit Blade Runner!

Jellyfish lanterns at the Todmorden Lamplighter Festival 2014

It’s only the festival’s second year, but we think it’s got real potential for a long term future. It’s perfect for a dark winter evening and seems to suit the winding streets and old stone buildings of Todmorden.

Fire performer at Todmorden's Lamplighter Festival 2014

Both kids & adults were having fun. In addition to the parade, there were various food stalls and the local bars were doing a roaring trade.

Moon and star lanterns at Todmorden Lamplighter Festival 2014

Let’s hope it goes from strength to strength!

Home is in the North 2014

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Natalie Laura Ellen bee illustrated paper and mug

We spent a very enjoyable few hours at the Home is in the North event on Saturday.

exterior view of Halle St Peter's

It was held at Hallé St Peter’s in Ancoats, Manchester – another great choice of venue by The Social Butterfly‘s Rachel Adams, the show’s organiser.

Ancoats billboard

Ancoats is an interesting part of Manchester – the steady process of regeneration is ongoing. There are some wonderful buildings – unspoilt, Victorian gems – brick terraces, old pubs, churches and former industrial sites.

view of the ceiling of Halle St Peter's

Hallé St Peter’s is one such building with it’s magnificent sense of space & light.

interior view of Halle St Peter's showing Heather Linnett's upholstered items in the foreground

It really came to life with all the amazing homewares on display – and exhibitors were the perfect mix of familiar faces and new talent.

coffee sack upholstered seat of one of Heather Linnett's chairs

Heather Linnitt aka Eclectic Chair is someone whose work we highlighted at last year’s Independent Interiors Show. We love her soft furnishings & upholstery work – using coffee sacks, vintage and retro fabrics. The Stig Lindberg-style fabric chair was a stunner – and we’d happily give house room to the Papua New Guinea coffee sack sofa too!

Heather Linnett's armchair upholstered in retro Sanderson fabric

We also saw the mosaic art of Amanda McCrann at that same event last year. Her stall was very eye-catching once more. The artwork is available in the form of original pieces or alternatively, prints & stationery incorporating her distinctive designs.

Amanda McCrann's 'Kiss' mosaic

Annabel Perrin was also there this weekend.

Annabel Perrin's patterned tea towels

Her fabric designs are a real joy – full of life, colour & vintage charm.

Annabel Perrin's patterned fabric

Anthony Hughes‘ work was new to us. We had a nice chat with him about the influence of industrial architecture & detailing on his work – finding beauty in the mundane & neglected… and our shared love of a good pylon!

Anthony Hughes' pylon fabric cushion

His range of stationery, wallpaper & fabric uses the photographs & artwork he produces at his Leeds base.

selection of Anthony Hughes' fabric cushions and wallpaper

The cotton fabric is made in Edinburgh & cushions feather-filled – temptation was rising!

Anthony Hughes' ductile print cushion

Blooming Balconies was a very friendly & approachable team – and their display provided a real blast of colour in the hall.

Blooming Balconies' banner

They design a range of containers & tubs, some with clever fittings for railings & drainpipes. Their stall looked perfect next to a sunny window.

Blooming Balconies' stall

There was no lack of colour on Charlotte Nash‘s display either.

Charlotte Nash's colourful light flex with Plumen bulb

Her work incorporates braiding, crochet, paper-cut & collage. She had some very striking mirrors, artwork & lighting on view. She’s fresh out of university, so we hope her future is as bright as her creations!

part of Charlotte Nash's display

Grey Moose Designs only had a small display, but their vintage industrial lights grabbed your attention from all over the large church space.

Grey Moose's industrial lamp display

Skill, imagination & high quality craftsmanship were clear to see on Richard’s recycled & re-purposed lighting.

Grey Moose's industrial lamp display

He could no doubt do a great job on the vintage spotlight we picked up recently.

detail from Grey Moose's Bullfinch industrial lamp

One of our favourite exhibitors on the day was Kate Bufton.

Kate Bufton's Harry Potter book transformation under a glass dome

She manipulates the shape & form of old books to produce her artwork – framed pictures and these stunning glass domes.

Kate Bufton's framed butterfly book transformation

Katherine Lees also had a very photogenic display. Her exquisite, hand-decorated ceramics in the form of old bottles & keys to form vessels & jewellery were getting lots of attention.

Katherine Lees' ceramic display

It was very hard to walk away from the orange & grey quilt produced by Lisa Watson and pictured below. She incorporates traditional Harris Tweed & sumptuous velvet fabrics into her creations. Gorgeous!

Lisa Watson's handmade velvet and Harris Tweed heirloom quilts

We were very taken by Natalie Laura Ellen‘s stall.

Natalie Laura Ellen's bee illustrated wares

Her gorgeous range of stationery, fabric & ceramics was superbly displayed using vintage crates, drawers & step ladders.

Natalie Laura Ellen's buttons

Lovely attention to detail with handmade labels & signage too.

Natalie Laura Ellen's cards

The Northern Letters display always grabs your attention.

Northern Letters' price list

This time it was the bold, monochrome, graphic quality of pieces that made the display stand out.

Northern Letters' display

We loved this table produced by Oh, Bother. It’s made from recycled wooden palettes. They had all kinds of interesting, quirky pieces to buy.

Oh Bother's display

Rachel Britch is another recent graduate – her lighting surprised us when we touched it. We thought it was soft & fluffy from a distance, but it actually had a stiff, bristly feel.

Rachel Britch's lamp display

Rachel Johns is a near-neighbour from the Calder Valley – Hebden Bridge to be precise. She uses ink & thread – producing much of her artwork with a big stick. Yes, that’s a big stick. It’s very distinctive – whimsical & playful.

Rachel Johns' artwork display

There were practical workshops taking place throughout the day…

sewing workshop at Home is in the North event in Ancoats, Manchester

…with sewing machines whirring and paintbrushes twitching.

Swoon Worthy painting workshop at Home is in the North event in Ancoats, Manchester

We’ll end with the What I Always Wanted display.

Mr Right and appliqué dog cushions

They had the perfect cushions for Justin & Fudge. In addition to their ready to buy products, handmade fabric items can be custom made to capture favourite buildings, street scenes, people or pets.

detail from What I Always Wanted's display

This has been quite a lengthy post and we’ve only mentioned about half the exhibitors! Keep an eye out for the next event – whether you’re a potential exhibitor or customer. Hopefully we’ve given a flavour of this well run & well attended show. We have a camper van fund that we’re trying really hard to build up, otherwise we would have left Home is in the North with a car packed with goodies. Tripod light, eight cushions, large quilt, table, glass dome, some tea towels, two pictures, box of stationery, set of mugs, three flower tubs – and a sofa!