Friday, 30 November 2012

Simply over the moon! We won at the National Chamber of Commerce Awards!

A successful Northumberland based company has won a major national business award.


Sarah Pittendrigh who runs Simply Bows and Chair Covers, specialising in quality chair covers, linen and accessories for weddings, balls and corporate events, represented the NE region in the finals of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards 2012.

Sarah, who has gone from being bankrupt to running an award-winning franchise business in just two years, went on to win in the Most Promising New Business category thanks to her ongoing success and growth over a short period of time.

The Chamber Awards recognise and celebrate business excellence across the UK and Sarah and the team beat off competition from a range of organisations, some with multi-million pound turnovers.

The ceremony, hosted by BBC business journalist and presenter, Declan Curry, took place on Thursday November 29th at the Guildhall in London.

Speaking about the BCC Awards, Sarah said: “Just being short-listed was an overwhelming honour. I can’t believe that I went onto actually win against so many outstanding businesses. I was so proud to be representing the North East region. This award is for all my team all over the UK who make the business work and put in so many hours to ensure we’re a success. I’m now very excited to be working on launching in London in 2013.”


Sarah established Simply Bows and Chair Covers in 2008 after being made bankrupt when the national events company she worked for suffered the effects of the economic downturn.

Whilst helping to organise her brother’s wedding, Sarah found a gap in the market for stylish, high-quality chair covers and linen and launched her business in 2008 across the North East area.

Since then, Simply Bows and Chair Covers has grown rapidly and Sarah opted to launch the franchise operation in 2010 as customer demand for her unique service grew quickly all over the UK.

Just two years on, the business has 11 franchises from Aberdeen down to Berkshire and Sarah is on target to open 30 franchises by 2015. Plans are also being made to take Simply Bows and Chair Covers into Europe and beyond after receiving enquiries from countries such as France, Spain and the UAE.

Earlier this year, Sarah was crowned the winner of the Best Small Business award in the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, organised by Women into the Network (WIN), and Newcomer of the Year in the North East Business Awards (April), which recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements of companies across the whole of the North East of England.

Sarah beat off competition from hundreds of entrants for her bold decision to franchise her company and judges, including a director from Virgin Money, were particularly impressed with the simplicity of Simply Bows and Chair Covers’ proposition and the excellent financial strength being delivered through this model.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Simply Picture Perfect: Supplier Showcase... Wastwater Photography

What is your company name?

What is your line of business?

Professional Photographer and Journalist

How and why the company begin?

I have been a professional now for over 37 years and as well as taking photographs for a living, I write features monthly for wedding, photographic and regional magazines. I have also taught imaging for much of that time. I was the National Director of a dedicated course for Home Office staff to teach video and photographic skills, which ran concurrently with all my other work. I gained the Investors in People accreditation for the work and was integral in devising new photographic techniques. 

Now I put all my energies into photographing and writing professionally in the lakes and teaching the subject on my workshops. This area is its own dramatic natural theatre. The terrain and light combine to produce photographic opportunities that are endless. It provides a breathtaking backdrop for Landscape Weddings when delivered properly. I hope that my wealth of experience and enthusiasm will be of great benefit to you.

Are you married?

Irene and I have been married for over 37 years. Childhood sweetheart’s who have grown together. She is my rock!  It was a superb day in early April. The sun shone, the wind blew and we had a honeymoon in a caravan in Wales. It was bliss. Each time I see the bright yellow gorse glistening in the sun it takes me back to that week. We had a great time and it has continued.

Why do brides come to you?

I am honoured to say that I am regularly cited by editors as one of the world’s best Landscape Photographers and they want their wedding to be special. A landscape wedding that reflects the real grandeur of the fells. Many have special memories of the lakes. Maybe a holiday, childhood memories or a proposal a top one of the Wainwright’s? I also specialise in ‘fly on the wall’, reportage images and the two combined make for a delightful package. I don’t ever get in the way and my many clients over the years will testify to that. It’s a special day, their day, not mine and that’s how it should always be.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I have been coming here and living here for over 40 years now. What’s not to inspire???!!!

What is in store for you in 2013?

As well as weddings, I write monthly for most of the National Industry Magazines, run landscape Photography Courses (always a popular gift for the best man by the way!) and deliver commercial photography too. I am currently photographing a major hotel chains 43 premises and five holiday resorts. Oh yes and I take pictures for my gallery which is in the Wasdale Head Inn. The most iconic Landscape venue in the UK as it’s the place where British mountaineering began. I was very honoured to be invited in there.

Who would be your dream client, and what sort of design would you envisage for them?

I don’t wish to sound corny but I just love being a part of a couple’s special day

What would be your top tips for brides when searching for a supplier in your industry?

Remember that apart from a diamond only one other thing on your day will literally last forever...
The pictures.

They are like Amber and will always be there. Virtually everything else is a ‘24 hour purchase.’ Too many couples are sadly looking at cutting corners. It’s a budget conscious time that I completely and fully understand but they are scrimping on the photographer and unfortunately ‘Uncle Joe’ or a ‘well meaning friend’ might well take the odd few good pictures when everyone comes out of the church. A good pro will deliver 5-600 good images. 

The advent of digital gives many a false sense of security and they think ‘well if it doesn’t look good I’ll snap another one’. Wrong!! The moment has passed and you won't get it back. I see it time and time again and weddings guests will often approach me and say ‘our photographer was a friend. Regret that now. Not only did the pictures not reflect the day but he didn’t enjoy it either.’ Or, ‘our pictures were delivered within a few days and they were awful.’

The phrase ‘if it seems too good to be true. It probably is’ comes to mind.
A real pro will take around seven working days of their time to have prepared, undertaken and delivered your work for you. With them you will be paying for a full service. I had to politely correct someone last year who said ‘Not bad your job is it? All that money for just an afternoon’s work....’

There are some excellent photographers out there and you should fully research them. Fully and by that I don’t mean paper sift on cost. You’ll regret it.
Also, ask to see many and I many images from lots of their work. It’s easy to ‘cobble’ a website together. Ask to see a package, a complete package they have shot and delivered. If they can’t, then beware. Some show pictures that look beautifully styled and grand. They are because they are invariably ‘model shots’ that take hours to prepare and shoot. Ask to view real images taken on a day.

Another tip... Don’t be afraid to grill and ask probing questions either. Are they the photographer or an Agent? That’s a common one now as agencies ‘pretend’ to be the snapper but a student or an agency photographer is ‘yours for the day!!’

Where are you based and where can you supply?

I have two bases. One in Cumbria and one in Cheshire. I literally cover the whole of the North of England and shoot work abroad regularly.

How can I get in touch to discuss my requirements or place an order? or Twitter @wastwater1 or 07946316769

Why do you like to work with Simply Bows and Chair Covers?

I associate myself with quality. Simples!

Simply Fingers Crossed!

We recently revealed that after winning the North East Chamber of Commerce Awards we had been invited to compete at The National Chamber of Commerce Awards in London!

The Chamber Awards were launched by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in 2004 to recognise and celebrate business excellence through the successes and achievements of its Accredited Chambers of Commerce and their members.
We are a finalist for the Most Promising New Business in the UK Award which is a tremendous honour and tomorrow is the big day!

 Fingers Crossed folks, wish us luck!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Simply Sparkling: Glitzaratti show bride's how to put the sparkle in their wedding shoes!

What is company name?
 What is your line of business?
Bespoke shoe & handbag embellishment/design

How and why the company begin?
It all began out of love for the shoes and years of making and designing for myself.  Fashion has always played a major part in my life and spent many a weekend with my nose in a fashion magazine or watching runway showcases online. I wanted to provide the market with something unique, somewhere a client could come and if they didn’t see exactly what they wanted or they required something very particular to them we could do it and without the 4 figure price tag.

Are you married?
Not at the minute but if there are any takers out there please get in touch, there is a Vera Wang with my name on it! 

Why do brides come to you?
They come for that extra special pair of shoes or handbag made just for them. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life it is a massive reflection of your personality and everything should be perfect and we understand this and that’s why we strive for perfection right down to the last pearl or crystal placement.

What is your favourite design and why?
Oh god….don’t think I could choose! I love them all equally. However my little apple clutch bag is making quite a few public appearances with me recently but ultimately it would have be my first ever design I took public which was the peacock shoe it will always hold a special place in my heart and indeed my wardrobe.

What is the most popular item you supply and why?
Our best seller is our fully encrusted design and comes in over 40 colour choices. Most popular however is the Aurora Borealis which is a light changing crystal (think petrol on water) and throws out the most amazing colour and sparkle. They take 16 solid hours per shoe and carry over 4000 hand placed crystals.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere really. My last design ‘Seashell’ was inspired from a day at the beach with my puppy Fendi. Our brides will often provide us with their wedding jewellery to design a shoe to match.  I guess I like to push the boundaries I want to provide something unique that will make people think ‘that’s really different, but very wearable’ exuberant fashion isn’t just for the catwalks anymore people what to push those boundaries in everyday life and what day is more important than  your wedding day to make a statement about who you are.

What is in store for you in 2013
I can’t tell you all the secrets (or ill be getting in trouble for ruining some big surprises) but I can say lots of new designs and getting out there with the Glitzaratti brand (we will be living out of suitcase the majority of summer 2013) as we take our products to the public. We are scheduled to attend Girls day out in Glasgow next year which we are looking forward to as well as plenty more besides. The completion of our new website which hosts a design your own shoe app for our customers, a first in the UK and as far as we aware, the world. This allows a customer to design their own shoe and have it made and delivered within 3 weeks. We also celebrate our 1st birthday in February!

Who would be your dream client, and what sort of design would you envisage for them?
I am now a massive Kylie Minogue fan after I was lucky enough to receive tickets for her latest tour last year. Her fashion taste is out of this world. She designed all her tour outfits along with Dolce and Gabbana for Aphrodite Le Follies and I literally sat with my jaw to the floor! She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to be out there with it.  I could defiantly see Miss Minogue in my 2013 collection.  Intricately detailed and never understated.

What would be your top tips for brides when searching for a supplier in your industry?
 Do your research and ask as many questions as you can. There are too many amateur companies out there. I have seen to many brides order a pair of shoes only to have them arrive and look nothing like the picture as the company has used someone else’s pictures, heart-breaking for a  bride.  Also look at the pricing and make sure what you are paying for is indeed what you are going to get. Swarovski crystals are notoriously expensive and many companies claim to use them but yet are only charging minimum amounts and use resin instead. For a fully encrusted shoe using genuine Swarovski you will pay no less than £350. The cheapest option is not always the best option.

Tell us something super interesting about you or your business that we wouldn’t already know…?
When I am not in production with the products I am out on the water. Windsurfing or teaching sailing to local kids in our community.

Where are you based and where can you supply?
We are an online mailing company however we have started going into select shops across the UK which allows you to go and look at some samples and order in store. All our stockists are handpicked and come highly recommended.
We post worldwide and have customers in France, America and Australia.

How can I get in touch to discuss my requirements or place an order?
Our most popular is Facebook at
Or our website email
@Glitzaratti on Twitter
Or call in at any of our named stockists who will assist.

Why do you like to work with Simply Bows and Chair Covers?
We appreciated a company with high standards and who give their clients the very best 100% of the time. We would highly recommend Simply Bows and Chair Covers to any of our clients. Hopefully one day I will get to experience how lovely those chair covers look against my Vera!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Simply Hen Party Inspiration: Cupcake Parties

What is company name?
The Cake Workshop (part of Mums Who Bake Ltd)

What is your line of business?
Cake Decorating Classes and Cakes

How and why the company begin?
 In 2009 I (Vicki) set the business up to encourage people to bake and decorate their own cakes.  The classes were a hit and soon we were running them as Hen Parties

Why do brides come to you?
Our hen parties are full of fun and laughter and you can eat what you take home!!  The classes are suitable for all members of the hen party and so enjoyed by friends and mother in laws alike.

Our hen parties have gained popularity over the last year.  We can tailor the theme to suit the group and are flexible with the class length and times making it ideal as a full afternoon’s activity or a short class to fit in between other activities.

What is in store for you in 2013?
We will be launching our wedding classes for brides who would like to decorate their own wedding cake or cupcakes.

Tell us something super interesting about you or your business that we wouldn’t already know…?

When I started the business in 2009 I was only learning to decorate cakes myself.  Nearly 4 years on over 1500 students have passed through our doors having learnt that anyone can create amazing results with just a little bit of help!

Where are you based?
Warwick Bridge, Carlisle

How can I get in touch to find out more?

0844 736 5882

Why do you recommend Simply Bows and Chair Covers?
SBCC offer  the same exceptionally high service and quality that reflects our own high standards of ensuring that everything is perfect for every brides special day.