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.