Welcome to the story behind Britain Does Vintage!
Let us introduce to you Alex and Sam – founders of Now and Then Events, the curators of Britain Does Vintage.
Meet Alex (above) – aged 25 (although Sam still thinks she’s 23 whenever asked), lives in York and lover of cheese, cheesy pop, tv soaps and quite luxurious holidays!
Meet Sam (below) – aged hmmm a bit older, lives just outside of York, mummy of 2 lovely girls; Ella and Liz, lover of wine, cleanliness, laughing and …. wine!
A little over two years ago fate brought Alex and Sam together. Alex, a recent business graduate, like many students was struggling to find a job without any work experience, so she set about making her own experience. Drawing on her passion for vintage clothes which transpired after inheriting a house load of 1920’s dresses, hats, bags – you name it she found it, Alex began organising a vintage fair in York called ‘York Does Vintage’. Coincidentally Sam was organising an eco fashion fair on the same day! Rather than working in competition they decided to co-promote the events. Some might say they are an unlikely duo, but they clicked from the start as they shared the same work ethics, a passion for working with people and ability to offer great customer service. To this day you’ll still find them giggling in a corner during ‘meetings’.
Alex and Liz joining forces to deliver flyers to the lovely people of Masham September 2012 – the pair like to merge work and family time together where cake, fish and chips, cake and more cake is involved!
After the success of their first events and few less than successful ‘Vintage Jamborees’ in Kennedy’s Basement Bar, they decided to form Now and Then Events and set about organising another ‘York Does Vintage’ at St William’s College. This event in October 2011 was fab. They had 1300 through the door, which by national fair standards was AMAZING. Little did they know that they were at the start of something goooood! Very good indeed!
Alex and Sam’s first photoshoot (with some airbrushing). This image was used on some promotional materials (which they instantly regretted) but the public seemed to really love. The pair have been told by many customers that this photo was on their fridge, pin boards, children’s walls – you name it! (Even by a teacher at a parents evening) CRINGE!!
By now shoppers were enjoying Alex and Sam’s fresh approach to vintage fairs; as well as the vintage stalls, there were a variety of interactive features including photo booths, alteration services, free workshops, live music and dancing. Alongside this, traders appreciated Alex and Sam’s friendly approach, and enjoyed their little personal touches. In the early days before an event the pair would spend all day in Sam’s kitchen making little gifts and cards for the traders! As they began to grow, they had less time, however they still liked to do a little something, usually in the form of chocolate drops in union jack bags, biscuit runs and the odd ‘snowball’ on special occasions! (Lucky traders!) The lovely comments from shoppers and great feedback from traders made all of their hard work worthwhile.
In February 2012, whilst Sam was at work (until July 2012, one or both of them had day jobs) she received a call from Alex saying they’d been shortlisted for a Visit York Tourism Award – ‘Best Shopping Experience’. This was the point when the two realised that their dream of organising top events around the UK could well be within reach. They were both beyond excited, and couldn’t believe how quickly the business had taken off!
‘York Does Vintage’ soon grew out of its home at St William’s College, so moved to the gorgeous Merchant Adventurers Hall. In March 2012 they had a whopping 2000 people though the door! By time the doors opened people were queuing around the block and fighting to get in (ok maybe not physically fighting but you get the drift!) It was such a great day, traders were happy and shoppers were going away ladened down with bags, furniture, jewellery, dresses and basically anything they could get their hands on. Thankfully this triumphant day was captured by Laura Reynolds from The Yorker who wrote such a lovely review!
Always smiling – isn’t that what you want from a fair organiser?!
The next step for Now and Then Events was to take their new vintage fair concept to another town (Harrogate) which was executed in May 2012. Their plan was to expand throughout Yorkshire, so decided to brand themselves as ‘Yorkshire Does Vintage’ from May onwards on social media sites – the works……………..
Until one day an email landed in their inbox from a tech savvy trader, who had discovered that a competitor had bought the domain name just a few days after their October 2012 event! (tut tut tut and of course no names mentioned). After a moment of mad panic, a few naughty words and a lot of brainstorming Alex and Sam decided to re-brand and hence change their name… so (drum roll please) Britain Does Vintage was born (and the pair are now eternally gratefull to this competitor for helping them make this huge decision!). Dave from DPD Studios (a former trader) began building their beautiful website (for this alone Dave should be awarded a medal as he had to work with two demanding women who kept changing their minds, and Alex is not called Sugar after Alan Sugar for no reason). They are forever indebted to Dave for all his hard work and patience. (If you ever need a website building they cannot recommend Dave highly enough! Don’t you think he did an amazing job?!)
Since then Britain Does Vintage has gone from strength to strength and they now have events in over ten locations and are organising their first stately home VINTAGE FESTIVAL. Each event is bursting to the seams with personality, oodles of vintage treasures and lots of lovely things to keep you busy all day long! Not only this, but they have expanded into vintage wedding fairs and also have a magazine which is currently undergoing some very exciting work! Phroar!
The girls first Vintage Wedding Fair at the gorgeous Bowes Museum – showing just why they were shortlisted for Outstanding Customer Service (they personally de-gritted the drive, ruined two pairs of shoes and put the council’s road gritters to shame!)
This year they have been shortlisted for THREE Visit York Tourism Awards ‘Best Shopping Experience’ ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ and ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ which led to the pair being interviewed LIVE on the radio TWICE. They’ll find out how they did at the Visit York Awards dinner on 9 May. (Keep your fingers crossed for them!)
And to top it off they’ve just been nominated for TWO National Vintage Awards, ‘Best Vintage Fair‘ and ‘Best Vintage Wedding Fair‘! If you love what the girls do please vote for them here. At the time of writing they were ranking second in the Best Fair category and first in the Best Wedding fair! Go Girls!
That’s all folks… keep you’re fingers crossed and we’ll see you soon xxx