Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Simply Pleased to Meet You, Jo Harris, Franchisee

Hello my name is Jo Harris, I run the North Northumberland Simply Bows and Chair Covers franchise. I work very closely with Charlotte, my daughter, who runs the Newcastle franchise. I work in many of the top wedding venues in Northumberland such as Eshott Hall, White Swan, Woodhill Hall and Horton Grange to name but a few.

I have spent the last sixteen years working in the charity sector, with the past eight years as the Fundraising Manager for the Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund.  I was introduced to Simply Bows and Chair Covers at the very start and used the company to dress many of my high profile events. This was when I realized what a superior product it was.

Many years ago I was self-employed television make up artist working for the BBC, Tyne Tees Television and local film companies. Working on programmes like The Tube ( for those of you who can remember all those years ago!), local Catherine Cookson dramas, Jackanory, and of course the much loved Byker Grove with Ant and Dec.

After being a freelance make up artist when my family was young I then started a new career in the charity sector. It was nice to be able to give something back to the Community. I worked for Help the Aged and Action Research but the last eight years I was Manager for the Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund which was my dream job – organizing various events to raise money for disabled children in the north east of England. Charlotte often helped out on many of my events, which probably was why she ended up working for The Prince’s Trust – following in her mother’s footsteps! So with Charlotte’s degree in Multi Media Textile Design, her events background and all of my years experience and knowledge in a creative and events role meant that buying the two Simply Bows and Chair Covers franchises seemed the ideal opportunity for the foundations of a family business.

We run the two franchises together, sharing stock, ideas, new designs and skills. We design and produce really unique products that make us stand out from the crowd.  Simply Bows and Chair Covers gives me the opportunity to be self employed and work when I want – which is all the time at the moment!

Our main business is within the wedding industry which is fabulous because it’s only ever happy people that we deal with. It’s wonderful to be able to help the bride (and groom sometimes!) create a wedding of their dreams. Many brides know exactly what they want but some brides want to be guided and ask for suggestions about how they want their room to look.

At the moment our new flock range is proving very popular. When Charlotte and I saw it in the warehouse we just knew that we had to get it. It is so different from anything else that’s around at the minute. We love going to the warehouses and finding hidden gems! We have just found three more amazing fabrics to add to our range of table runners to go along side our wide range of organza sashes.

When we add new products to our range we organise a photo shoot in one of our beautiful venues, taking me back to my days as a make up artist on set.  What a hard life we live!

My most memorable wedding is the first wedding I dressed which was at Doxford Hall. The bride had bought her chair covers on-line but when they came they didn’t fit the chairs and the sashes never arrived. She came to me at the very last minute and I was able to provide made to measure chair covers to fit the chairs and sashes in the exact colour she wanted. She was over the moon that we were able to help her at such short notice.

We have dressed many charity balls often following tight briefs from Moonlight and Roses to Sunflowers. The Northumberland Plate and Ladies Day are always busy for us – it’s always fun to do something different. We match sash colours to corporate colours not the colours of the bridesmaid’s dresses!

Contact Jo at: jo@simplybowsandchaircovers.co.uk

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