BIRTHDAYS and family festivities were a big deal when Rebecca Edwards was a kid.
It had an effect.
“I held a formal dinner party when I was 15, it was terrible food but I cooked; mum let me use all the good cutlery and we had to wear our Year 10 formal wear,” laughs Mrs Edwards.
The experienced event manager has turned her passion for styling and staging celebrations into her business Blanket Fort.
It designs whimsical and often elaborate “blanket forts” or tent pop-ups for hire at children’s slumber parties, setting up everything then packing the whole affair down with minimal fuss.
Mrs Edwards’ family is integral to the business: her mother is a keen sewer and taught Ms Edwards’ husband Michael to sew tent frame covers [Michael also designed the tent frames, among other things]. Her father owns Hamilton Laundrette, which is handy for linen washing, and her father-in-law has a lathe used to help build structures.
Mrs Edwards devised the party themes, or Fort Designs, starting from six and tripling the themes since the business began in early 2017.
“I love putting together the look and I am very particular about having the right elements before we launch it,” she says.
The family’s dedication to hand-crafting the trimmings has been a point of difference for her business.
“We create a beautiful party space and take the hassle out of it. There is a lot of detail and we go the extra mile to make it more interesting,” she says. “It's such an intimate bonding idea for friends but everyone has their personal space.”
Comfort is paramount to Mrs Edwards, who remembers the sleepovers of her childhood as being fun but often a bit uncomfortable.
Children who attend Blanket Fort sleepovers arrive in their PJs and receive a lantern, a dental kit, eye mask and torch and a hand-written name card on their bed.
The most common ages for sleepovers are 8 and 10, however Blanket Fort collaborates with other businesses to erect and style bigger structures used in team building events, chillout spaces for children at adult parties and more.
Blanket Fort began with eight tent frames. It now has about 40 and hosts as many as six parties per weekend.
Upon demand, Mrs Edwards will soon host Mum Fort – erecting a big indoor structure that mums can hire to invite girlfriends over in their PJs for wine and conversation far from the pitter patter of tiny feet.
In spring, it will start Blanket Flicks, setting up a cinema complete with a big screen and stylish seating in a client’s backyard. It can be hired separate to or in tandem with a sleepover.