Husband and wife team in North Yorkshire who have invented a glamorous canvas campervan awning that has revolutionised the sector win big at The Brand Yorkshire Business Awards 2019.
“In 2013 we had a vision for pitching something posh next to our beautiful vintage campervan in order to bid adieu to its nasty nylon awning. Glamping was on the rise so we dreamed of bunting, fairy lights, toasting marshmallows on a crackling wood burner. When we searched for such an awning it didn’t exist so we carved out our very own niche in the market for what is now well known as ‘the glawning’. This glamorous 100% cotton canvas awning has been a total gamechanger for us as campers, but most importantly for the hundreds of customers who own, love and rave about it too. Just read the 5* reviews.” Said Sarah Martin, Director of Glawning.
“Initially operated from home as a sideline we decided to get some glawnings manufactured in Yorkshire, with start-up capital of £5000 in order to peddle them at weekends by attending as many VW festivals as we could across the country.
“Sales quickly escalated, and the product has grown a large and lovely community, with customers setting up an Owners Facebook page. It wasn’t long before word of the Glawning reached further afield with custom to Europe, Australasia, U.S.A and Taiwan.
“Every year since then sales figures have grown exponentially often with customers who own them spreading the word themselves about how the product has radically altered their camping life for the better. We have grand plans for new products and to break into the US market in 2020.
“The glawning has had a bit of airtime when it featured on the BBC’s Caravanner of the Year programme, and was subsequently mentioned by Chris Evans on Radio 2 and has received excellent reviews in a number of camping magazines.
“In October 2016, we decided to give up our day jobs as Solicitor and Administrator to work full time for the business and to look after our newborn daughter, Matilda. The business moved into new warehouse premises on Marston Moor Business Park in January 2017 and a new chapter began for Mr and Mrs Glawning. Previous commercial law knowledge from a day job in the legal world has given us a head start in registering the necessary Trade Marks and Design Rights early on. There have been many challenges along the way, such as in streamlining the fulfilment, shipping and warehousing functions, and making use of external companies and resources to assist with this. We moved all stock to a Fulfilment Centre in Keighley in March 2019 to enable us to focus on other elements of the business such as Research and Development and Marketing. The very different skillsets of three rather different people resulted in a synergy that suited the business well.”
The company has continued to go from strength to strength largely on the basis of customer referrals, a strong social media presence and our fantastic customer service. The team remains small – the two Directors and one further member of staff, however all of their individual varying talents complement each other, and Gawning continues to grow.
“We have recently started to gain recognition in awards. In April 2018 we were Finalists in the Customer Services Category at the Yorkshire Choice Awards. In May 2018 we were Winners of ‘Ones To Watch’ award and Runner Up in Small Business of the Year Award at Family Business of the Year Awards in London. December 2019 sees our greatest accolade yet – Best Micro Business – and, of course, being such a small business any award or recognition for all the hard work means the world!
“Our vision for our customers when using our products has always been what we strive to achieve ourselves when camping – quality family time, connecting with nature under the stars and getting back to the rustic basics of camping without having to forgo comfort. This often means more members of the family are able to participate more freely because the element of ‘roughing it’ is eliminated. Good old-fashioned campfires, toasting marshmallows, playing board games, and learning new skills al fresco all contribute to the personal well-being we’re trying to promote by making camping more accessible to all family generations. Our products turn camping into glamping, without the hefty price tag.
“The future is simple: spread the Glawning love. For us this means making the Glawning accessible to a wider range of leisure vehicles and also going global. We are in the process of arranging distribution centres in America, organising attendance at campervan shows in Europe and bringing out new products to break new markets.
“But success for us isn’t measured in monetary terms. It’s being able to earn a living from doing what we love – being outdoors, living under canvas, cozily drinking wine by a woodburner even when it’s blowing a gale outside our tent. It’s being able to ditch the daily commute and work from the office we’ve installed at the bottom of the garden. It’s attending Glampfest (our own festival of glawning owners and others) annually, seeing hundreds of glawnings in a field, their owners enjoying something we created.
“Glampfest raises money for a different local charity each year and brings everyone together for a shared appreciation of glawnings, glamping and Yorkshire. It’s hard work for a team of three but worth it for those moments.
“We are so proud of what we have come up with – the glawning is a ground-breaking product – and how we have grown it from a side-line hobby to the thriving business it is today on a team of two or three. Inside the space of six years we’ve gone from storing our stock in our lounge and selling it every weekend to fulltime directorship and operating from a fulfilment centre, and we still only have three members of staff. We design our own website, artwork, and social media campaigns. We answer all queries. We orchestrate all overseas orders. We run our own festival. And much more. All on a very fabulous micro team!”
More information about Glampfest 2020 in the Yorkshire Dales can be found here.
Find out more about Glawning here.