Saturday, 31 May 2014

Introducing Marigold (soon to be the best exotic Marigold hotel / caravan)!!

Lily & Violet Vintage has been all about the shop just recently and we have not been spending as much time as we would like with our beloved fleet of vintage caravans :(
There are just not enough hours in each day to do all the brilliant stuff we want to do!!!
So this week we thought we would talk caravans and introduce you to Marigold (the newest addition to the family). And telling you about her will remind us of the work we still have to do…..and we can’t wait!!
Marigold - Just Rescued!!
Marigold is a true rescue caravan who came to us in the back of a skip!!  She is a very sad case of ‘caravan neglect’ and when we eventually re-home her it will be a very happy day!!! 
Marigold’s previous owners were past their caravanning days and didn’t really know what to do with marigold - so they left her - ignored and lonely :(
Marigold is a very exotic fold down caravan - a 1960’s Portafold to be exact.  She has been languishing at the bottom of a garden for many, many years and has a very impressive array of flora and fauna living and growing in and around her!!!  
A member of the Marigold family
She is a bit of a haven for spiders at the moment (making her a bit of a no-go area for Lisa!!).  And, she also has her very own bird life living inside!! - little Robins are nesting in her!!! That probably means that we will not be working on her for some time - at least until the robins have flown the nest! - much to Lisa’s relief (due to the spiders not robins)!! It also gives us time to plan what she is going to look like…..
We do seem to attract Robins and it is a bit of an ongoing theme for us.  Perhaps we were a bit too hasty in declaring our love of the Poodle…..a robin wouldn’t have worked though (although it does have its own flash of red - which we like).
Marigold is a 1960’s plastic construction that basically comprises of a trailer that forms the floor, 2 fold in sides, 2 fold in ends (one with the door) plus the roof. The roof was made with ‘wings’ and looks a bit like a ‘50s American car - this was so that you could store your all important dinghy in it… absolute caravanning must have for every family!!
The good thing about clip together plastic is that rust and damp are not an issue so, thinking positively, this should be just a repair and paint job.  It could never be that easy could it???
Obviously, this sort of construction is going to have an impact on the final ‘look’ for Marigold.  Lisa was loving the idea of a big chandelier but what happens when Marigold is folded down??? Can you hear the tinkling crystal…
Check out the gold quilted walls!
The inside of the caravan is really pretty special!! Marigold needs an awful lot of work but she still retains her gold quilted walls which were probably very sumptuous at one time.  When she is ‘ready for bed’ and her seats are converted, she turns into one gigantic bedroom - ok. gigantic is probably overstating it just a little!! 
So, what colour do you think Marigold should be?? At the moment we are thinking (predictably) oranges, yellows and golds. But we are open to suggestions - maybe she should have a woodland theme and we could paint in trees to replace the actual trees we remove… Or maybe she should be a vision of gold - simple!!  
And what about the inside? - should she have a retro feel (more in keeping with her era) or should we give her a complete makeover?? 

We would love to hear your ideas and you can take a look at the Lily & Violet pinterest boards to see our latest thoughts on the subject!! We have a little time before Marigold is due her revamp, so get your thinking caps on and let us know what you think!!
Mary & Lisa x 

Friday, 23 May 2014

A Sign of the Times

The time has finally come when we can show off to the world and have ‘Lily & Violet Vintage’ written above our shop front!!!! 
Luckily, we knew exactly what we wanted (and have known this pretty much from the start) - glittering letters in gold! What else???
Julie Vernon's Gromit - Love it!!
We were inspired by our very favourite Gromit - the gold mosaic one by the very talented Julie Vernon; the one that sat outside the Victoria Rooms in Bristol.  Stunning!!!  (Did you know that 10,000 tiles went into the making of this Gromit - probably about the same amount as our sign!!) 
Being a bit of a dab hand at the old mosaic herself, it was down to Lisa to come up with the goods and make our fabulous sign. And fabulous it most certainly is!!!! 
But making the sign was only the beginning - the fun really started when we went to put it up. You would never believe the stories we could tell you about the weekend we put up the sign…….
We started on Saturday and decided to spend the day cleaning the front up a bit, removing the old lettering and repainting the main board.  
Our first problem -  our favourite Bailey’s Paints shop didn’t have the right paint - Aarrgghh - How could that happen?? They always have every F&B colour known to…., well, mown to Messrs. Farrow and Ball (just not this time).  If you haven’t been to Bailey’s Paints, it is a bit of a decorating heaven!! 
They mixed us up some Little Greene paint - and it is an exact match!! So, next time you are told that F&B paints cant be copied, don’t believe them!!! 
Whilst visiting the paint shop it is compulsory to have a rummage through the antiques and salvage centre - brilliant little finds if you keep your eyes peeled and put your bargaining hat on!! - but it does make the paint a tad expensive - it is impossible not to buy that must have rickety step ladder with missing rung…. a snip at £120….they are antique after all…
Eventually we made it down to the soon to be Lily & Violet Vintage boutique armed with step ladders, fairy liquid, clothes, paint and brushes.  We had a bucket but no water. Nick (our fab new Landlord) - oooo Lord Nick maybe?? - was busy working on the floor just behind the door, so when we knocked requesting water he could only open the door an inch or two.  Our bucket is at least a foot across!!!
We popped in to the lovely ladies in Glow (fab hairdressers just up the road from us) who kindly gave us some hot water. At last we could get to work….
As we are on a bit of a slope, the step ladder that was perfectly fine at the top was just a little on the short side towards the bottom!! The situation was made all the more precarious with the addition of pedestrians!!
The mobility scooters - they really do motor along!! We spent a lot of time moving the ladder for them and their occupants, walking sticks, bags,baskets etc. etc. And every time  we moved the ladder they stopped exactly where the ladder had been to chat to us!! Lovely to be so friendly, but it made for slow progress!!
you'll have to imagine the scoot!!
We do love a scoot and thought we might have a window display with one at some point.  Probably more like a Lambretta or Vespa than a Mobility though….Picture the Eiffel Tower, a Lammy and a poodle - thats what we are thinking….
The Oldies - Dursley on a Saturday has its fair share of unstable walkers!!  We had never really noticed this before but they did seem intent on trying to knock us off the ladder when they grabbed hold as they ambled by!!
The Beepers - you know who you are!! All of your heckling and tooting made us smile but on occasion made us jump a mile!! (not very good when you are on the top of a ladder!).
Whoop!! Whoop!!
So, after scrubbing cleaning, peeling and repainting on Saturday, all that was left to do on Sunday was fix up the lettering!! Easy!! We had expert help from Bri and it went up like a dream!!
We are totally thrilled with the result. And we think that it gives you a very good idea of what to expect from the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique before you set a foot inside the door.  We know from all of the amazing, wonderful comments that we have received that you like it too.

Next stop: moving in!!!! Soooooo exciting!!!

Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Going Live!!!!

For the past few months we have been busily gathering stock, securing premises, renovating caravans, planning our shop opening and very importantly sorting out our branding and web site.
The ‘branding’ - yes, this is what the showcasing of our business is called (we didn’t know that either!) - well that was something that would be quite easy to do wouldn't it???  We thought “how hard can it be??”.  Surely, it is just a case of putting together a few words and a few photos, decide what the sign above the shop and on the web site should look like and there you have it!! Half a days’ work  at most….
How very wrong we were!!…
Our Lady in Red - She helped shape our thinking
Firstly, we needed to decide on the look and feel that we want for Lily & Violet Vintage. This was really the easy part for us because we knew that we wanted something glamorous and opulent looking, but also something a little bit quirky - as you know, this is no ordinary vintage venture!
So next up was researching lots of other web sites and shops just to try and figure out what we do and don’t like. This resulted in quite a lot of ‘days out’ scouting the local high streets for inspiration....

Honestly, that is what we were doing!!...   Although we were occasionally distracted and ended up ‘shopping’, we were (for the most part) very focused.  
No, really - we really were!! We only bought a couple of pairs of shoes and the odd scarf or two between us!!!
Next up - agreeing the content for the website…We are having all the usual - About Us, Contact Us, Clothes, Caravans (if you call that usual) etc.. That bit wasn’t too bad but filling it up with words and pictures was a whole different matter….
The words…
We have spent hours pondering over the wording, is it too twee? does it sound too ‘friendly’ ? Are we just talking rubbish?  And the answer to all of these was (at times) yes!!  
You would think that words would come quite easily to us - those that know us personally would never expect either of us to be stumped for a word or two!! But actually, sometimes we were!!  And, other times we just wrote gibberish (mmmm?!?!)
Lovely Models
 - Rubbish Photographer!!
The pictures…
Oh come on!! We can all take brilliant photos, can’t we?? With today’s new-fangled digital technology, of course we can all take a few great photos of a few great outfits! 
No, no no - it is so much harder than the professionals make it look!  Firstly, we shot into the light (wrong!!) Then the outfits were for Winter (wrong!!)  Then the day was overcast (wrong!!) Then the indoor light was too harsh (wrong!!)  - you get the picture - ha... ha...That said we are improving with age (in every respect but particularly in the photographer stakes)!
We have had a number of photo shoots and have now got a great ‘look’ - but this has been a long road and we are improving all the time! 
The branding aspect of setting up Lily & Violet Vintage has proved to the one thing that has really shaped our thinking and helped us to understand what it is we are all about. It has made us consistent in what we are doing and has meant that we have not gone ‘off track’.
Luckily for us, we have the most fantastic designer you could wish to meet.  Kirsty McGibbon of Sharper Marketing has been our guiding light!  And this is no overstatement - she has completely understood what we are trying to achieve and translated this into a fantastic web site, created our logo, designed our business cards, created our facebook page…the list goes on….
We really need you all to go and have a look at our web site and tell us what you think of it.  It has links to our facebook page, our Oodles of Poodles blog (you are reading it!!) and to Pinterest. This is particularly cool because it means that we can take snaps or our new stock and upload them to our Pinterest boards and you can all see them right away. And we have mood boards for the caravans so you get a glimpse of what is inspiring us!!!
If you, or anyone you know of is looking for this sort of thing, we cannot recommend Kirsty highly enough. Don’t try and go it alone - speak to Kirsty.  She is based in Stroud and can be contacted through her website  or you can let us know and we will be very pleased to put you in touch..
We are totally thrilled with our website and everything that goes with it.  Thank You Kirsty!!  We would really love to know what you think too so please put a note on here or on our Facebook page and let us know what you think of it…

Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Yay ….. Aaarrrrghhh - It’s Market Day for Marj!!!

This morning we are feeling just a little bit nervous!! Today is market day and we have decided that the time is right for Marj's grand unveiling.  
The forecast for today is….you’ve guessed it! - rain!!!! And it has been chucking it down all night!! Luckily, Marj has been water tested on a number of occasions recently and has survived the bombardment of weather that Mother Nature has been able to throw at her.  So, we can’t let a few potential (hopefully!) showers put us off!!  We are more worried for us than for Marj….
Marj is taking everything in her stride - her paintwork is looking as lovely as the day she was painted, her cushions have been plumped, her curtains have been straightened and she is ready to be unveiled to what we hope is her adoring public!!
As you know, Marj is the first of the Lily & Violet Vintage fleet and she really is our baby.  When we first got her she was just a little bit hard to love (a little bit battered and tired looking to say the least), but with all of the tender love and care she has received, she has blossomed into something very special!! 
I guess this morning we will find out what others think of her…
We spent the day yesterday making sure that Marj is ready for her grand unveiling, but that has done nothing to calm our nerves.  
We will be putting Marj in place in just an hours time and hope that some of our friends and followers will stop by to take a look and say hello…… 
Now, have we got everything???? Memory is not a strong point for either of us so we survive with randomly scattered lists - the list for today is pretty short: 
  • Marj (she is essential), 
  • the photo record of her transformation (to aide our memory and show you all the before and afters), 
  • chairs (we aren’t as young as we used to be!!),
  • our business cards (we have to keep reminding ourselves that Marj is for sale :(  and that we are actually in business). 
Personal number plate too!
Life is just so much fun though, it is easy to forget that we are supposed to be working!
OK its time! - we are off to Dursley Farmers Market with our little Marj….

And after……
Phew!!! That was such good fun!! 
Our experience this morning just goes to prove that we are not totally mad!! 
All set up at the Market
Maybe the concept of the rescued vintage caravan is a bit ‘out there’ (especially a caravan that has a name and is really one of the family). But when you step inside Marj your imagination runs wild!! 
Marj had a blast meeting everyone and finding out how they would incorporate her into their daily lives!! She is a complete star and loved by everyone who sees her. 
Thank you to everyone who stopped by and made our morning so special.  We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received and are so pleased that you all love Marj. That said, Marj is one special lady and so we aren’t really surprised at everyone’s reaction to her… but still very, very chuffed.
Any time is Cocktail time with Marj
The only thing we could have done better was to give out totally tropical cocktails and had some grass-skirted models… 
Actually, I do have a vague recollection of the promise of a grass skirt and coconut shells….. you know who you are!!!

You can check out more pictures of Marj on our shiny new web site 
Mary & Lisa x 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Quest For The Deckchair

Now, wouldn’t you think that everyone (or at least everyone’s mum & dad) will have a battered old deckchair lying around at the back of the garden shed? Probably covered in cobwebs, with a bit of tatty fraying striped fabric and a bit of a rotten frame. You would think that, wouldn’t you????…
But no!, when we needed a couple of old deck chairs to work a bit of magic on and make look wonderful in a Lily & Violet Vintage way - we couldn’t find any anywhere!  We got lots of “aw, if I had known you wanted any I wouldn’t have taken those old things to the tip” and “I’m sure we’ve got some old deck chairs lurking at the back of the garage - oh, no, wait a minute, we put them out for the bin man.”
So, Lisa put a request out on Facebook and signed herself up to the local selling sites. Ha ha, now she is inundated with useless stuff for sale all over Gloucestershire - but you never know there might be a rare kind of deckchair in amongst them!  
These sites are probably really very useful and help people to offload their stuff to others - but they also mean that you get 500 notifications of prams for sale… Anyway, that didn’t work and we found no old deckchairs in need of a new home.  And we had no responses to Facebook requests…nada!!
Weston Beach Maybe??
We needed to hit on a new strategy in the quest for the deckchair….. We made a couple of calls to Weston-Super-Mare council and a few others - all to no avail. (Our thinking here was that old deckchairs used on beaches probably get scrapped and so this would be a good source of the not so perfect chair.)  We haven’t totally given up on the beach traders being a likely source of chairs so we have a few beach trips out planned in the next couple of days - all in the name of ‘work’ you understand!! 
With the weather now taking a turn for the better, we are pretty certain that there will be a few sheds and garages being given a once over and all the old garden furniture being replaced with new rattan stuff from Homebase. If this is you, please bear us in mind!! - we need your old deckchairs. (hopefully you have got the message by now).
We are planning to give our old deck chairs (when we find them!) a bit of a overhaul and use them in our caravan photoshoots and in the Lily & Violet Vintage boutique.  We have got some brilliant fabric in mind for them!! Where would you go to buy stripy fabric for your deckchair - yep, of course -!!!!! There is a .com for everything!!! They do have some seriously funky fabric - so if you don’t fancy handing over your old deck chairs to us, then get and revamp them yourself!!! 
Ouch - Bruised for weeks!!
I recently took a trip to Cattle Country with Lily and some of our friends.  It was my birthday and so when we sat down for our packed lunch, I was given the pride of place, head of the table seat!!! How lovely!!! - and guess what it was??  Yep, a lovely striped deckchair!!! But unlike the vintage versions it had no fixed seat.  The result - an embarrassed me !!! (well, I would have been if I was the type to get embarrassed!)  Obviously, no one had their camera fixed on me at that particular moment, so the event was recreated (too many times) - and, on grass to save my delicate posterior from the stones (ouch)!! I did cause quite a stir sitting down onto the deckchair and going straight through!!
We have managed to get hold of some ‘spanish chairs’ at Wotton Auctions and for now we are using them as stand-ins for the deckchairs. We don’t really want to resort to buying new ones so are scouring anywhere we can think of for the vintage variety.  If you see any, let us know!!! 

Oh, and if you happen to go to Cattle Country anytime in the near future, be very, very careful of the deckchairs at Barn 2!!!

 Mary & Lisa x