Saturday, 29 March 2014

Our Most Frequently Asked Question…….Part 2

Now, finding, rescuing or buying a caravan is a whole different ball-game to finding exquisite clothes !! 
We are on the lookout for cute looking caravans with glass windows (the glass windows are all important). So if any of you spot such a caravan please let us know!!
You may remember that Hilda, our first baby was bought at a classic car auction. Brilliant, nerve jangling fun!!  Marj, our second, was spotted in a classic car ad and was bought ‘off advert’ - in need of a lot of love and care but worth it!
But as time has gone on (and we have been spotted driving slowly, peering through hedges, holding up traffic and frequently reversing down lanes) we have spied a few likely local candidates that look in need of rescuing!!  Broadening our approach we are getting a little (lot) more direct - yes, we are not ashamed to admit it - we have done a bit of door knocking!!! 
The downside of this approach is that we are frequently mistaken for travelling gypsies.  One local gentleman (he comes from Ham, near Berkeley.  Initials J.P. - do you know him?) thought we were going to pinch his new gates!!.....  When all along we were aiming to pinch his caravan (just a little joke! - the caravan was next door...)
We have on the whole been very lucky with the door knocking, but there have been a couple of scary moments…  
We spotted a couple of likely looking vans on what we thought was a ramshackle industrial site.  It turned out to no longer be rented out - and as we reversed at the top of the drive we were faced with the huge gate being pulled closed in front of us, trapping us inside.  We just squeezed out before it fully closed. It was a bit like something out of a horror movie! needless to say, there was no caravan for us there…
We have had some disappointments with our door knocking approach but we have also been totally rewarded with two caravans.  One - Beattie - is still in the owners garden where it has been for the past 30 years! Unfortunately, the garden has evolved over that time and it is no longer possible to remove the caravan without lifting it over the hedge into the adjoining field!  

Beattie - our gorgeous 1964 Fairholme
So, we have lined up Pete with his High Ab - a lorry with a hoist thingy (see, you learn something every day) to move Beattie when the weather improves. Pete’s initial reaction on being told what we were up to was “Are you mad??? The best thing you can do with that is scrap it” After a while though, Pete warmed to the idea and is now keen to add the 'moving of Beattie' to his portfolio of unusual lifts!  There’s something in this game for everyone!
Rita - Isn't she a beauty?
Our newest addition to the Lily & Violet Vintage Caravan Fleet is Rita.  (As a bit of an aside we would be really interested to know what colour 'Rita' conjures up for you - let us know! - we know what colour she is going to be but what is your gut reaction?).  Rita is a 1978 Lunar Clubman and is the biggest of our caravans so far.  She has spent many a year languishing in a sheltered spot in the corner of a field.  Her days of touring had obviously come to an end and, like many lovely old caravans, she had become a bit of a soggy storage shed.
After many a slow drive-by, we eventually plucked up the courage to knock on the farmers door - and we are very glad we did!!! After the initial sceptical reaction we were promised a phone call. So, we left all of our details and received a call a few days later.  Not only did we end up with Rita, but also with a couple of new leads for other rescuees (- is that a word?).
Rita is going to get a complete transformation and will probably look very different the next time you see her!!
Remember, if you have an old caravan in need of rescuing or you know of one, please call the Lily & Violet Vintage Rescue Rangers!!! - (that is Mary & Lisa)

Mary & Lisa x 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Our Most Frequently Asked Question…….

We really thought when we first kicked off this magnificent vintage adventure, that the question we would most likely be asked is “why clothing AND caravans ?”  But actually the oddity of it all doesn’t seem to pose a problem for anyone and most people (we think ?!?!?) have been genuinely interested in everything we have been up to - whether it be caravan towing or vintage shopping and spotting!
The question we are most frequently faced with is “where are you getting all your stuff ?” 
Now, obviously we can’t go giving away all of our top secret contacts but we thought you might like to hear about a few of the more interesting encounters we have had so far…
As you can imagine, getting hold of beautiful, high quality vintage clothing is very different from acquiring a 1960’s caravan in need of rescuing!!  
The vintage clothes that will adorn the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique have obviously been bought and worn before. So, to get to the ‘source’ we have been on the look-out for vintage hoarders, vintage lovers, over-spenders, size shufflers and shape shifters who want their gorgeous pieces to be worn by others when they can no longer be worn by themselves. 
This has introduced us to some absolutely fabulous people all over the world.  Some of them are what you could term professional ‘spotters’.  They have been in the vintage business for many years and help us to source specific items.  
Anyone for a shot?
One of these ladies is Pam.  Pam lives in sunny California and is supplying some of our American Vintage items.  We told Pam of our obsession with poodles and have so far turned down a poodle ashtray and a poodle decanter and shot glasses!!! Actually, writing this now I realise just how well Pam has gotten to know us and I am going to be buying those shot glasses at the first opportunity…. And for those of you out there who know Lisa well, you will know that a poodle ashtray could tip her over the edge - it could be just too hard to resist! Audrey hair, cigarette in a long holder and a poodle ashtray - the epitome of cool!!
Another brilliant person we have encountered is a lady called Chinchilla Snood.  Does anyone know Chinchilla?? She definitely has a certain mystique and who could fail to be impressed by such a name?!?  We have decided to take up ‘vintage’ names for ourselves, so if anyone out there has any ideas…… 

Chinchilla, if you are reading this, we think that every girl should have a name like yours - we like your style!
There are such places as vintage wholesalers and kilo sellers, but we have chosen to take a very much more hands on approach and want to continue to choose every piece individually.  We hope that by taking the time to do this that the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique will always be full of Totally Unique, Totally Gorgeous things!
Next time we will tell you about finding the caravans - it really is a story in its own right!!

Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

So, to find the perfect shop....

We started our shop search by roaming the streets of local towns and villages, looking for the perfect spot - lovely looking frontage, no competing shops, high traffic area and fairly close to us both.  Guess what?? - no such shop existed…… so in our usual way we decided to jump in with both feet and change all that!  (Don’t worry - we didn’t hire in some muscle!) 
We had a good idea of where we wanted to be and had even narrowed our search down to a couple of properties - none of them with vacant shops to let.  So we went about trying to talk to the owners… At one point I was spotted crouched down in the street peering through a very low letterbox..and inside all I could see was a pair of work boots (I’m still not sure if they had feet in them as I got scared, quickly let the letterbox shut and walked off at a pace, pretending it wasn’t me!)
A gorgeous building - not too sure
about the window display though! 
Eventually, our persistence, nosiness, ingenuity, persuasion (call it what you like!) paid off and our very favourite shop will soon have Lily & Violet Vintage written above the door. It is just the most exciting thing!!
Some of you might remember the shop as it used to be and you might even have shopped there!  Do you remember Kidsons? The motorcycle place.. Well, it will have a new lease of life soon as Lily & Violet Vintage. I know some of you probably pass the shop on a daily basis and will see that change is underway. We are going to keep it under wraps until our grand opening but it will be worth the wait!
One of the receipts we will make use of
The shop has been empty for a number of years and has most recently been home to a kitchen display for Jonathan Randall Kitchens.  In years gone by Bristol House has been home to a Lipton’s Supermarket and a couple of Outfitters. We are very excited to have the responsibility of bringing back to life such a beautiful old building with the wealth of history it keeps!!  We have been lucky enough to have been given some copies of old photographs and receipts which you will be able to see when you visit. Although, they probably won’t be framed and on the wall - that would be too easy!!
So, any ideas what a Lily & Violet Vintage Shop could look like?? 
Glamorous, Stylish, Charming, Relaxed, Inviting……..
Totally Unique. Totally Gorgeous. 
Think…. 50s and 60s, Audrey and Poodles, Over the Top Glamping, Fab Tunes, Comfy Thrones……now you’re closer!!

Over the past couple of months we have been busy planning the shop interior and putting our fittings together. Along the way we have been bidding at auction, visiting dodgy people in their lock ups and harassing shop fitters.  Maybe next time we will tell you about a few of the characters that we have met so far - it could be a book in itself!!
Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique Vision

Lily & Violet Vintage – The Shop!
We are very excited about all of the work that we are doing with Hilda and Marj but we thought it was about time we brought you up to date with this side of things.
The vision for the Lily & Violet shop is proving to be as much fun as the caravans and working with our lovely Marj and Hilda.  I suppose that is no real surprise – we are loving life and loving work! What could be better than doing something you absolutely love as a job!?
Prepare To Be Wowed
We are putting a lot of thought into what we want the Lily & Violet Boutique to be like.  After years of trawling through vintage clothing stores with hundreds of items crammed onto the rails, (many of them from Mango or Atmosphere or H&M) we want something a little less ordinary - actually, a lot less ordinary. There is of course nothing wrong with 'ordinary' (sometimes) or with any of the brands mentioned.. but really?!? in a vintage clothing store?!? We don’t think so…..
We want you to be able to walk in, be wowed and feel free to browse for as long as it takes through our (beautifully presented) racks of gorgeous quality items, and if an item has a story to tell then we will tell it! 
We have been collecting some absolutely stunning clothes, mainly pieces from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Now, we love all clothes - contemporary and vintage (well actually we aren’t too keen on the english ‘70s dresses but each to their own..) - but the lovely things that will find their way into the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique are SO much more glamorous than today’s mass produced stuff.   And they were beautifully made - often even in the country they were sold in!!! - who would have thought it?!?
‘Made in Britain’ seems to be a thing of the past - but not as far as we are concerned! If our items were "made in Hong Kong" they were probably also bought and worn in Hong Kong! And lots of our American vintage comes complete with the union tags. 
We really believe you will come into our shop and find beautiful pieces of clothing that you will be able to wear with your favourite Primark top, Kurt Geiger boots or All Saints biker jacket.  It will work!! Just as we don’t want to holiday in a ’70s caravan, nor do we want to dress head to toe as if we live in the 1950s. This is not ‘fancy dress’ – it is ‘fancy’ dress!! Get it ?!? 
Totally Unique, Totally Gorgeous. Clothes you will want to wear forever.
We are sourcing our pieces from as far afield at the United States, Italy and France. (It is soooo exciting)!! And we have found some real gems…. and met some lovely people that we hope will feature in our venture for many years to come.
We have made a decision to stick with ladies vintage clothing and accessories. Quite a few male friends want to know why we have made this decision and to be honest we don’t have a great answer!! Buying mens vintage clothes would, we think, be more difficult for us (and not so glamorous or as much fun) and so, for now at least we are sticking with the ladies!!! Sorry menfolk!!! It will be interesting to see if this changes in the years to come…. who knows??..
The Red Lady
A question for you?? What do you think of poodles?? Obviously, because of our Audrey fixation we love a poodle or two. They are starting to feature quite heavily in our thoughts and in our plans for our shop! We are predicting that they are the next big thing! 
So, if you want to get ahead, get a poodle. 
We have our Red Lady to represent the creative side of Lily & Violet Vintage and she will appear on our up and coming Pinterest page, our fb page and on our shop window - and of course she has not one but two poodles! Look out for her - she is very cool!!
Mary & Lisa x 

P.S. I did actually consider getting a poodle, but I think Coco, my Labradoodle might get a little bit jealous. I don’t think she would take too kindly to a poodle addition to the family.  She does live a very charmed life and we couldn’t change that!! 
Mary x 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Aphrodite's Vintage Caravan Park

The family and I were whisked away for half term to Cyprus (not quite the Roman holiday I had planned but, hey a holiday is a holiday!!) by the caravan hating other half, Bri.  He had even hired us a car so we could explore the beautiful countryside. 

Lisa and Terry

So, on the Tuesday we decided to visit the very famous Baths of Aphrodite (she's the Greek Goddess of Love) and with Bri in charge of map reading we set off in our Dihatsu Terios which of course we had named "Terry". 

We weren't long into our journey before we realised that the "red route" on the map was little more than a dirt track and took some seriously skillful driving to stop us going off the edge a cliff. Jeremy Clarkson would have been proud of me. After driving for about 15 days (probably around an hour and a half really) doing literally 1 mile an hour at times we finally reached our destination and I have to say we were slightly underwhelmed at the sight we stood before. This tiny trickle of water into a rockpool was not the magnificent waterfall we had imagined. So that the day was not wasted altogether we took a stroll along the suggested nature trail and I couldn't have been happier when we reached the clifftop and I found my Utopia. 

Everywhere we looked what could we see ?...............

Aphrodite's Caravan Park
Vintage caravans, miliions of them (well at least 20), they were gorgeous (sorry Marj and Hilda) little things, all glass windows and curvy bodywork. Unfortunately, they were all inhabited so I couldn't have a nose inside the windows. Didn't stop me spending the rest of the holiday dreaming about how I could get them all home though. or even leaving them right where they were and setting up a clifftop caravan site at the spot where Aphrodite herself took her baths. I think Mary and I could quite happily spend a few months of the year renovating those beauties in the glorious sunshine..............Aaaaaah we'll keep dreaming............
Lisa x