BUFFALO TIPI SHOWCASE 2017

On 21st October we shall be unzipping our doors and showcasing everything we have to offer, whilst also hosting some of our favourite suppliers from the South West & South Wales!

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If you've never set foot inside a giant Nordic tipi, then now is your opportunity. Come and explore these amazing structures, and experience what it looks and feels like to have an event in a tipi.

It's also your chance to spend time with The Buffalo Team and our special guests. Find out what sets us apart and discover how we are all driven by the same passion for creativity within the events industry. 

Special guests include:

- The Roaming Caravan Co. - serving drinks and styling

- Green Farm Events Ltd. - powering the tipis and serving BBQ treats

- Young Blooms - showcasing serious flower power, along with a collection of props

- Luna In The Wild - dressing and styling the tipis with even more flowers!

- McGivern Photography - the extremely talented photographer

Call 01225 585586, or email simon@buffalotipi.com to book in for a chat on the day, or come along any time between 09:00-18:00 for a browse.

 

A simple Sami Life

Quite a lot of people ask me about the spelling of tipi and why we spell it like we do. Well, the reason is because of where they are from- the far North of Sweden. They are Nordic tipis spelt the Nordic way, as opposed to a North American teepee. Having said this, and to clear up any more confusion, a tipi and a teepee is essentially the same thing- iconic tents that have been bringing people together for centuries, just from different continents. 

Anyway, I thought I'd write a little a bit about the Nordic background of our tipis, why it's so important to what we do, and why we have chosen these tipis in particular. 

It all started in the far North of Sweden, not far from the Arctic Circle, in the village of Moskosel. It was here that the idea to transform an ancient dwelling into a modern day super-sized event tent was thought up, and the idea came from a chap called Benght Grahn.

Benght was on a canoe trip in Lapland with a group of friends when he had his lightbulb moment. After a long day paddling the icy waters all he wanted was to gather around a fire with his friends and share some food, drink and laughs, but the modern tents wouldn't allow for this. He quite simply thought that modern tents were too small and unsociable. They had lost their soul. It took a few years to build his confidence in the concept of a modern tipi but eventually he quit his job as a church warden and started to sew tipis!

Since then he has grown a huge business, manufacturing all sorts of tipis worldwide for the camping and events industry- a business known as Tentipi. Here at Buffalo we are proud to use Tentipi and are not only inspired by the tipis Benght has designed, but also by how he runs his business.

Last year I was honoured to be invited up to Moskosel by Tentipi to explore the tipi factory, meet the makers, and best of all experience life in a tipi in an arctic environment. It made me realise how important it was to really get to know our supplier and their products, and be able to spread the amazing story behind the amazing tent. 

Despite being a huge multinational business Tentipi still has a deep connection to the the people and the land of Northern Sweden. This is what is so special about them, and on my visit I saw so many examples of it. The most obvious being that the main factory is still there in Moskosel with a team of wonderful women who still hand make the tipis. Their attention to detail was phenomenal and how happy they were to work there was inspiring. Take the business to the other side of the world and you'd think the story would be different. It's not. Even in their Chinese factory their employees have been encouraged to adopt a Swedish way of life. They work normal hours (which is probably less than us), get free transport to work, and enjoy a good salary. This is unheard of in a typically intense Chinese working culture. The business culture at Tentipi is so reassuring and refreshing!

Apart from visiting the factory to learn about the business culture we were also treated to a 3 day skidoo safari to immerse ourselves into the tipi culture. We headed out into the wilderness and slept in tipis for 2 nights, getting to see them in their real home- minus 20 degrees celsius and surrounded by snow. The Sami tribes of northern Sweden were the tipi pioneers in these parts and have been living in them for hundreds of years, and for 3 days we lived a simple Sami life (except for the beer and skidoos). We drilled holes in the ice and caught fish for dinner, met the Sami people themselves, slept on reindeer hides and stoked the fire through the night to keep the tipi warm. To top it off we watched the northern lights! I can imagine it was just what Benght had dreamt up many years ago when he imagined tipis being enjoyed by the modern explorer. 

Naturally, with any success product, people follow. So now, other replica Nordic tipis are widely available. For me though, the original is always the best. It has had the love poured into it and the passion that I believe every business needs for a long and sustainable life. When you hire a tipi from us you don't just get the most advanced canvas technology, the strongest timber and a tipi engineered with incredible precision, but you also get a tipi with genuine history and a real story. It's a tipi that's been made by friendly people who we know get treated well and love their work, and we wouldn't want it any other way.  

McGivern Photogrpahy

There are heaps of photographers out there so I can certainly appreciate that it’s tricky finding one that’s right for you. But ultimately you need someone who balances technical ability with a personable approach. You don’t want the incredibly geeky photographer with an awkward or bad attitude mixing with guests at your wedding, and certainly don’t want the fun guy with all the gear and no idea. Which leads me on to Oliver McGivern- in my opinion the chap who has found this balance perfectly.



Oliver has a reportage style to his work- documenting weddings and events as an observer, capturing the natural moments of the day without getting in the way. This aspect of how he works is apparent in his photos- without contrived poses and awkward group shots.  Again, there’s nothing worse than a real bossy boots dragging everyone into place.

What I also love about his approach and subsequently the photos is his underlying beliefs in, and passion for photography. In his words:

“I love that through the use of selective and well-taken photographs we can improve, or even better, our conscious recollection – taking photographs of the smiles and laughter of the wedding day and forgetting the stress that came before. So years down the line we can fondly look back at the catalogue of our finest moments, made even finer through the use of great photography. Isn’t that what we want when we reach our twilight years? To be able to feel that we used our time on this planet wisely and lived a happy life."

Insightful stuff, and the proof is definitely in the pudding, so visit www.mcgivernphotography.co.uk to see more of his work.

The Great Bath Feast

This one was a particularly fun event to supply. Not only was it in central Bath with some great exposure, but it was also for Hartley Farm and Neston Farm Shop- a pair of excellent farm shops that my cousin runs. Celebrating food, farming and family, the tipis formed what was essentially a pop-up café/kitchen for the whole weekend, punctuated by various events and demonstrations. 

But this wasn’t the only foody celebration the city hosted in October. The Hartley Farm Tipis were contributing to what is now known as The Great Bath Feast-

 “a melting pot of wonderful flavours; of cake and ale; of great gourmets and warm gastro pubs; of buns and cook books… a month long Food Festival where all participants are keen to share their enthusiasm for food and drink.” 

It was good to see the space swap seamlessly between these events- from corporate networking event one evening, to a butchers demonstration the next morning. The tipis also proved how they look and feel great in Autumn; the canvas complementing the orange leaves and creating an atmosphere inside so much cosier than a white plastic marquee could ever achieve. 

The smoke from the BBQs and steam from the coffee machine was constantly chuffing out the top of the tipi, again something a traditional marquee would struggle to accommodate.  But comparisons aside, it was fantastic way to end the season and a privilege to be part of such a wholesome and spirited event!

photography credit - www.mcgivernphotography.com

photography credit - www.mcgivernphotography.com

BBC Casualty

Whilst I was checking the tipis were still erect at Glastonbury (via the BBC's live webcam) I coincidentally got a call from the BBC themselves. They were looking to hire 1 tipi to shelter a wedding ceremony on the set of Casualty!

Much like the Glastonbury enquiry, a few alarm bells did ring. Usually Casualty involves a disaster of some sort- so did I want my tipis to be related to a disastrous wedding ceremony? I'm probably not allowed to say exactly what happens, but thankfully the tipi was amongst the drama, but not actually responsible for the drama. I'm probably not even allowed to say that- sorry Casualty fans. 

Along with the tipi, some lighting, some flooring and a few furnishings, they were also looking to source two of the key ingredients to any countryside wedding- bales of hay and bunting. With a mother who knits and sews bunting in her sleep, and a farming father with 3 sizes of bales in the barn, neither were going to be problem. 

When the BBC are replacing traditional wedding marquees with tipis it's a sure sign that the giant Kata tipi is making waves and starting to be recognised as a genuine alternative wedding venue. The episode is due to go out mid-November so tune in to BBC1 then and you'll see us. 

bbc_wedding_tipi_tepee

Glastonbury Festival 2015

I always said the dream with Buffalo would be to set-up the tipis at Glastonbury Festival- the biggest and best show on earth! Looks like I might need to realign my dreams. 

We had the phone call only a week or two before the gates opened from the kind chaps over at The Natural Tent Company (Hertfordshire’s finest tipi supplier), who wanted to join forces in order to make it happen. It was one of those offers that was going to take some serious re-scheduling and planning but nothing that was impossible, despite the relatively vague client and their use of the tipi. 

So after negotiating some access to the site, meeting the client and firming up a few specifics, it was on!  Although being told to let the men on the gate know that we “have the tipis for Emily Eavis and Kanye West”, I was still doubtful. I shouldn’t have been, and we built two of our giant tipis backstage for what was going to be the headline act’s green room- a space for Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, The Who and their gangs to relax before they head on stage. And there was me worried about the tents being damaged by scallywags and mud. Instead, the tipis were within their own fenced-off area, within the backstage area, hosting potentially the only people at the festival who don’t need wellies.  

No one needed wellies in the end, the weather was glorious and everyone was incredibly happy. We picked up the tents in immaculate condition the following Tuesday and with more fake fingernails on the floor than there was mud, it was a huge success. 

Still thinking about the next tipi related dream. 

What does 'rustic' even mean?

With the summer nearly full up with bookings we’re beginning to get prepped for the season ahead. But along with enquires we have also been planning and designing one of the more unique offerings at Buffalo- handmade furniture, or ‘rustic’ furniture. 

One of the most attractive things about our giant tipis is the natural finish of the timber ‘tent’ poles- a tree trunk from a particular species of Spruce that grows along a narrow band of latitudes in the far North of Scandinavia. Here the freezing winter breeds a species of tree that grows incredibly slowly, making them older, wiser and much stronger than your average. When they reach over 100 years old they are then ready to be a tent pole. I think this story of our tipi poles and their relationship with mother earth is what makes them interesting. In a society that's beginning to appreciate the natural world much more I also think it's part of what creates the charm of handmade natural products. 

We’ve become more conscious of how our day-to-day choices affect the environment, and for plenty of reasons, our newfound respect for the natural world is filtering down through the industries. We decorate, dress, clean, travel, trade and celebrate with environmental awareness, and it’s more obvious in events than most industries, with a booming festival culture and informal, natural wedding themes leading the way. People now love being outdoors, celebrating the outdoors and styling events with simple, upcycled and recycled bits. 

Rustic
- of or relating to the countryside; rural.
- having a simplicity and charm that is considered typical of the countryside. Made in a plain and simple fashion.

The word ‘rustic’ is annoyingly over used, but I think it means well. I’d like to think it’s a great example of this growing respect for the environment/countryside and what it can give us. It might be a trend, but a natural and environmental approach to events- however they are styled- in my mind is something that we will continue to move towards. So a return to simple, natural and handcrafted goods and services that are delivered with honesty is a bloody great direction to be heading in. 

So, making ‘rustic’ tables and benches for my tipis is not a copy-cat thing that I’ve just seen work elsewhere. It’s something I feel quite passionately about and have been very fussy over. The simple, timeless charm of an unfinished timber trestle table and benches also reflects the tipi tents and their poles. 

Here are pictures of some prototypes we've been playing with. No shiny varnish or factory finished lacquer will be used on these. With tests still being done I plan to bring out the grain of this timber naturally and let the parties and feasts they seat and serve create the finish. 

handmade_furniture

Tipi-cal Me

It's been a busy couple of months for Buffalo Tipi and with next summer’s bookings already coming in I thought it was about time I took Buffalo online.

The Buffalo adventure began earlier this year when I returned home from a seven-month trip around the world with my girlfriend, Lauren. A trip designed for us both to escape from the same job for the same company, and get inspired once again. It was more than enough time for me to climb into volcanoes in Indonesia and to live in tree-houses in Sri Lanka, but just about enough time to explore what I wanted to do when I came home.

I did come home, and with all my geographical knowledge topped up and my sketchbook filled to the brim, I was ready to start something new. I have always been interested in the natural environment, not as a scientist though, more as an artist interested in the designs and structures within nature. So I applied to do a landscape architecture degree which seemed to balance my creative side and the environment perfectly. Accepted onto the course and weeks away from enrolling I didn't think at this stage something was going to make me change my mind. But it did, and it was only because I had seen another opportunity for me to design things and be creative outdoors.

I've always seen myself running my own business. I'd learnt a huge amount from managing a large team and most aspects of a business in my previous job, so I was also confident that I could. As long as it was something I was genuinely passionate about. But what's also really important to me is being able to complement this passion with a working environment and culture that I am in control of, and that makes me productive. Some people like the comfort amongst a team in a tidy office, others on their own in a cluttered studio. For me it would be leading a team with an outdoor studio. With this in mind a second degree at Uni wasn't going to be an option, so I began to write a business plan.

With my research, beliefs and figures now down on paper things started to happen. My brother was getting married in July and it looked like this was going to be the first time I could show everyone what I had been working on.

I’ve never been in a ‘marquee’ that has held an atmosphere like the tipis did on that day. An incredible family occasion helped, but I never expected the tipis to give the party so much energy and atmosphere. These tents are so symbolic with their structure and history but on that day they symbolised a lot more for me in many ways, and I’ll never forget it. 

Thank you thank you!

There are so many people I would like to thank for getting me this far. So here's to the muscles and minds that have come together to do so:

Firstly and mostly importantly my family - For backing the project, lifting the first few poles into place and continuing to support me. My brothers in particular for being patient when we've stood staring up at the first few builds scratching our heads. But also my old man for some good old-fashioned business advice and mother for feeding us well on site.

Lauren - For also being patient with my ideas, but for getting stuck in and lifting things twice her size. We haven't really started yet but thanks in advance for driving the business and being the most organised person I have ever met, and the most wonderful.

Connie Dickson - For your creative direction and helping me to develop Buffalo into the brand that I had in mind, and that embodies what I'm trying to do. But also for bringing together a website, stationary and clever ideas which will define Buffalo's personality.

The Crew - Millsy, Ben, Jamie, Dando, Chris and Will. You guys helped build the first few tipis and some of you actually understand how they go together so your work might not be done just yet, but Thanks!

Tipi and Kata - A pair of brothers running a tipi business up North who kindly took me under their wing for a week or so. It was always going to be hard getting hands on experience in building giant tipis, but these chaps let me - so thank you, and sorry for asking a question a minute.

Jake Webb - Thank you Jake for capturing the atmosphere and presence of the tipis during this summer's events. I must also credit Jake for the video of The Flock Inn. 

Tim and Tom, cousins (in arms) - Thanks not only for your wise words on local business, but for also giving me the opportunity to showcase the tents. Tim for instigating The Flock Inn meeting, and Tom for having the tents on your doorstep for all that time.

Friends - Olly, Dave, Sellick et al. For bouncing ideas around when all this wasn't real yet. Sellick actually discovered the historic link between a buffalo hide and tipis so thanks for your brain power mate, I owe you!

Vintage Marquees- Thank you Caroline Penny for proving it's possible to be creative in this industry and that personality is very important. I'm very much looking forward to working with you in the future.

South West Marquees - Thanks to Chris White and his team. With 30 years worth of knowledge in the industry I've certainly learnt a fair amount already, so look forward to collaborating with you in the future and learning lots more.

And to anyone else who I have spoken to about this over the last 6 months. You've all in some way or another contributed.

Sketching

I'm much more of a drawer and a painter than a writer, so here's a doodle I did way back in the Spring which maybe shows some of my more creative intentions with Buffalo.

The Flock Inn

This was a project I took on with my cousins Tim and Tom to experiment with a concept that we'd been discussing for some time: a 'pop up pub'. Something the west country isn't too familiar with, and our late grandfather (Pappy) would have seriously struggled to get his head around. But it was simple - a stage at one end of the tipis, a kitchen/bar at the other, with relaxed seating in between that opened out onto a beer garden to the side.

Fortunately for us, the indian summer ran well into late September and we were blessed with a weirdly warm evening. The Cadbury Sisters and The Bohemians Embassy provided the soundtrack to the evening, to help celebrate what was an amazing summer. So with 130 friends there to share it with us, we were onto a winner and there will certainly be more where this came from.

The Flock Inn- Sept. 27th 2015

Paid with a ploughman's

With two old school mates to help out, here's a shot from the very first day the tipis arrived. Sam Mills and Ben Mercer, who once formed a strong midfield partnership on the rugby pitch, now found themselves pulling the ropes and lifting these tree trunks that had travelled all the way from Sweden. Ben hates cheese though, so he left early and went to Wimbledon for the afternoon when he realised he was being paid with a ploughman's.