How Leeds woman’s Covid diagnosis inspired booming glamping business helping families make memories
The Luxury Glamping Company was born in the pandemic, and because of the pandemic.
When Rebecca Wilkinson contracted Covid in March 2020, spending weeks in and out of hospital and unable to carry on her frontline job in the police force, the idea for her now-thriving family business began to form.
Her own experience of Covid made her cherish memories with her two grown-up children and she wanted to provide a luxury glamping experience for other Leeds families to make new memories.
"I was reflecting on when I would see my children and grandchildren again," Rebecca, 47, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"We wanted to bring families together, including our own family, in a Covid-safe way - offering a bespoke service with a real attention to detail, tailor-making people’s celebrations."
Launched in May 2020, the Luxury Glamping Company caters for birthday parties, baby showers, children's sleepovers and other family events - providing outdoor bell tents, indoor teepees, luxury picnic set-ups and more.
The bespoke tents and accents are handcrafted by Rebecca's husband, Glenn, and profits soared during lockdowns when indoor gatherings were banned.
“It was so important for us to be Covid-safe," Rebecca, of Aberford, added.
"It was a hurdle to overcome, but because of our first-hand understanding of Covid we felt we were in a prime position to make sure everything was done right.”
After the success of the Bell and Bohemia arm of the business, which provides beautifully-styled bell tents to camp out under the stars, Rebecca and Glenn launched 'Glamp Squad' indoor teepees for children's parties.
Rebecca said: "Because children had missed out on so much school and socialising, we realised they’d missed out on creative play.
"We decided to launch the tiny teepees, with a luxury strand, to let them have their own adventures.
“It’s magical to see the children get so excited, it makes me well up. It’s worth every moment of hard work."
The Luxury Glamping Company has recently launched a climate campaign to offset its carbon footprint.
For every bell tent ordered customers are supplied with an oak tree sapling to plant in their gardens, and every children's teepee comes with a pack of wild flower seeds for children to sow.
Rebecca added: “We felt that collaborative working was the way forward, that we’d benefit our community, the environment and green spaces by working with our customers.
“We thought about how we could empower the next generation and that was a quick answer, by getting them involved and growing their imaginations, helping them to understand how to care for the climate as they grow up.
“If we can embed that into their way of thinking now, hopefully when they grow up they’ll be able to pass that onto their children.”
Rebecca and Glenn were so overwhelmed by the response to their climate campaign that they are now setting up a second venture, GrowGreenUK, which will work with other businesses to provide saplings and seed packs to distribute to customers.
As their business expands, Rebecca and Glenn have hired their first staff member, Pollyanna, who helps to set up tents and design packages while studying for her A-Levels.
They plan to employ around a dozen more staff as they begin to grow - they've recently ordered 40 more bell tents and there are plans to cater for larger-scale weddings.
Rebecca added: “It’s been a whirlwind, our feet have not touched the ground. But we wouldn’t go back."
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