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Chelsea Flower Show 2007 was our very first show. It was great to be accepted and no doubt our swing seat's classic design and traditional craftsmanship helped our application. We weren't just presenting another run-of-the-mill piece of garden furniture.
We hadn't designed any 'stands' before but we knew that planting was key so we promptly teamed up with a local garden nursery who gave us advice on what would be in season. After many design iterations we enlisted my old art teacher to paint a walled garden on canvas with an Idler swing seat central to the picture. My husband duly stretched a giant 12m x 3m canvas over a folding frame and the painting began. Within two weeks and 8 hours a day in a cold art room the canvas was completed. The swing seat placed centrally in the picture was the focus of the design and we were chuffed to bits with what had been created. Now all we had to do was get everything to London and put it all together.
Of course on the day it was raining. We'd spent three hours getting to London in a 1976 Volkswagen bus which frankly 'ran like a dog' and as soon as we arrived it really started to pour. We didn't have a choice as time was limited so unloading and construction had to begin. The rain became harder and then there was the mud. Our pristine swing seats became covered in dirt and our painted canvas became drenched but of course the Show had to go on. After six hours everything was in place and notably a team of 'pros' had set up three stands in the time it took us to do ours but were very pleased with the results.
The first day of the show soon came around and being 'newbies' we were rushing around trying to get everything just right but at the same time probably making things worse. Our eternal thanks to the ladies from 'Labels 'n' Things' (for serious gardeners!), Chelsea veterans, for answering our questions and for lending us their kettle and hoover! So on Monday, after repositioning the swing seats hundreds of times the doors opened for the special preview and judging day. It's not only the gardens that get judged, the tradestands get awards too. So after having the stand scrutinised by three inscrutable judges, we started to relax and then time flew by as we celebrity spotted all day from the comfort of our Idlers! And so for the rest of the week we invited everyone who walked past to sit down. To watch people's face morph from a tense exhaustion to expressions of utter relief and relaxation is just lovely! The Idlers just sold themselves, with 'punters' sitting on the swing seats cajoling their friends to sit down. And whilst we do have the most comfortable seats in the Show it is still exhausting! Most stands had relief but with just the two of us it was 13 hour days. So when the bell rang at the end of the Show we were elated to have done so well but very happy to finally be going back home (as long as the damn van worked!).
We had had a great show and even now swing seat customers who bought that first year visit our stand at Chelsea and say how much they enjoy their Idlers. They quite often get involved with telling potential customers that 'You simply MUST buy one!, They're just MARVELLOUS'. It is just really, really fabulous to sell a product that you know really does make a difference to someone and something that they just love!