I had the real pleasure of meeting Clare Barclay when she came to set up the most amazing sleepover party for my son’s 9th birthday. She set up Little Cotton Tents long before the big craze hit the UK and since then has used her imagination to create magical sleepover parties for lots of children. Meeting Clare was a great chance to find out more about slumber parties and Little Cotton Tents.
The brilliant base camp theme party from Little Cotton Tents set up for my son’s birthday.
The Little Cotton Tents low down
What was your inspiration to set up Little Cotton Tents?
I have always loved organising a party especially when it comes to the styling and accessories!! Having had my girls I wanted to get back to work and do something with flexibility to fit around family life. I was lucky enough to have lots of support from my family to get the business up and running; my mum taught me to sew, my sister built my website and my Dad photographed my first themes… it was a real team effort!! When I first started over two years ago it was a very new concept and people didn’t even know a service like this was available. Luckily social media helped me tremendously and I have had such fantastic support on my journey, a highlight was definitely winning the Red Kite Days Awards last year (and shortlisted this year!).
Who was the first theme you created?
First themes were Unicorn, Pink Princess & Blue Metallic, we now have 10 themes… soon to be 11!! We are also working on a bespoke USA theme for a party next month and love working with clients to get the styling just right … children often have a very set idea of what they like and dislike.
What’s your most popular theme?
It really varies, Unicorns was the initial favourite but more recently the mermaid and Blue Metallic themes have been just as popular!
What’s your favourite theme?
The new one I’m currently working on!!! Watch this space!!
Do you only set up in people’s home?
We generally set up in peoples homes though I have set up in a hall before (although I believe overnight sleeping in halls is often not allowed due to insurance purposes)
What other events have you set up for other than birthday parties?
We’ve set up for school leavers, a treat for family visitors / Grandchildren, at wedding venues as a kids play / children’s area and even after weddings for the younger members of the bridal party to go back to as a treat to soften the blow of them leaving the party!
What’s your favourite accessory?
Probably all the lovely cushions… I’ve lost count how many we have! Oh and I do love a faux fur rug!! So cosy!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Probably mostly Instagram, I follow a lot of children’s accounts be it children activities and gifts… I also love home interiors so follow a lot of instagram bloggers / influencers and get inspiration from new colour themes etc. My children and friends at their school also frequently give me ideas for new themes… the possibilities endless it would seem!!!
What are your top tips for a sleepover party?
Have plenty of supplies in – they seem to eat a lot!! Have a couple of film options available!
What sort of activities do people do when they have a sleepover party?
This really varies, some people have an activity in the afternoon (to tire the kids out!), sometimes this includes a larger group from their class then they head home with a few best friends for a sleepover. Movie nights are popular; our Pamper packs have also become very popular so the girls love to put on a face mask and paint their nails etc! It makes the ultimate girly sleepover!
What do you love most about your job?
I absolutely love my job, I love designing the themes adding the details and seeing it all come together. But most of all I love the excitement when you arrive at someone’s home, not only from the children, the parents are often just as excited too! People very often say it looks even better in real life… and seeing the children’s reaction can sometimes make me feel a little emotional!! Then I go home and show my girls the setup… they can’t wait to come to help mummy at work but aren’t old enough for that just yet!