WE SHIP TO THE UK AND EUROPE!
WE SHIP TO THE UK AND EUROPE!
The safety of our tents is the number one priority and it should be yours too as a supplier of sleepover tents for a commercial purpose. Our tents comply with the very latest standards which came into place on the 1st January 2021, the Toy (Safety) UK Regulations 2011 (BS EN71) and that includes all accessible components, the wood, the fabrics, the velcro and even the sewing thread. All these components have gone through independent chemical and flammability testing by our UK based accredited laboratory Bureau Veritas. This is the required standard for play tents placed in the commercial marketplace in the UK, and is the reason we place the new UKCA compliance mark on all our tents
A play tent is classified as a toy and play tents for sleepovers are no different, they are still toys. In fact in March 2020, the UK Interpretation Group for Toy Safety, directed that play tents for sleepover parties are toys and need to be UKCA compliant in accordance with the Toy (Safety) UK Regulations 2011 (BS EN71).
There is complex legislating applying to the safety of toys regarding hazards due to its structure, mechanical properties any issues regarding flammability and also chemical migration through the skin or saliva. This legislation relates to manufacturers of toys (us) and suppliers of toys for a commercial purpose (you). This is the same legislation that involves the safety of slime (yuk!) and dressing up costumes which can burst into flames (think Claudia Winkelman’s daughter!)
A play tent is a toy, which a child enters. If they were asleep and for some reason the tent caught fire they need enough time to get out safely hence the flammability testing of fabrics. Play tents have their own specialist flammability testing under section 4.4 of EN71 Part 2: 2014. You cannot just stick any old fabric on the tent because you don’t know how quickly it will burn, the flames spread or if there will be any molten drips. Every component of the tent has to be tested for structure, flammability and chemical migration and in the case of play tents the flammability and chemical migration tests have to be undertaken by a UK registered independent test laboratory. Only once all tests have been passed can the UKCA mark be applied to the toy or packaging and a document called the UKCA Declaration of Conformity should accompany the tent from the manufacturer. As a sleepover business you are expected to keep a copy of this document and can be asked by Trading Standards to produce it as proof that your equipment is legal. If your equipment is not legal you risk a child being injured and your insurance being made void.
Ness our company owner used to sell the frames and canopies separately but found she was encouraging people to break the law by buying her frames then putting any fabric on it. So she decided to no longer sell the frames separately. A word of advice, don't buy frames separately and put your own fabric on them. You are breaking the law and risking the safety of a child!
Your natural response may be that you have seen lots of sleepover companies with lavish fabrics covering their play tents and frames with poles through the holes in their joints! They are not legal and in fairness when Ness started doing sleepover parties 4 years ago making her own play tents with duvet covers she unwittingly was naive of the law surrounding play tents and it was only when she spoke to a friend who made soft toys she made Ness aware of the legal requirements both as a maker of play tents but also as a supplier for sleepover parties. Well we can reassure you Ness stopped trading and put everything right and that’s why we are confident that when you buy from us, you will receive a product which reaches all statutory safety standards but that they are made to endure the rigours of multiple children playing in them as well as being transported backwards and forwards in your vehicles. By the way, duvet covers do not undergo the same test standards as the fabric covers for play tents so please don’t assume duvet covers are safe to use ON your play tent because they are not unless you have had them specifically tested under BS EN71.
Likewise, if you buy a UKCA compliant play tent, don’t go and drape your own untested fabric over the play tent canopy as you undermine the safety of the entire play tent should it catch fire. You may as well not buy a UKCA compliant play tent.
A word of warning. There are manufacturers of play tents on Ebay, Etsy and Facebook who claim their tents are CE / UKCA compliant particularly the fabric. We know from the various forums that the testing of their fabric has been conducted at home with a Bunsen burner. This is strictly prohibited and the legislation specifies a test so technical it would be impossible for fabric to be tested by a novice. Please view the test on our Facebook page timeline. If you buy from a manufacturer claiming their fabric is CE / UKCA tested, ask to see the certificate. Certificates are issued by independent test houses who conduct the test. A legitimate manufacturer will have no qualms permitting you to view the certificate. All components including the Velcro and sewing threads also have to be independently chemical and flammability tested and have a certificate issued.
The reason we major on these points is two fold. We don’t want you to unwittingly pay a lot of money for play tents you were told are CE / UKCA tested and marked, and they turn out not to be, and secondly don’t be tempted to make your own covers unless you are prepared to take on the responsibility as a manufacturer and have all the components independently tested, produce technical files and issue a UKCA Declarations of Conformity. If something goes wrong, it’s the manufacturer who bears the responsibility if the item is found to be defective. So enough about safety!
This is the first question we will ask you before you buy a tent because it will determine what size play tent will fit in your vehicle. Play tents start at 110cm high and 110cm wide although we now do a slimline version. The width is variable and the play tents fold almost flat for storage or transport. But we can make them much bigger, up to 160cm tall. You need to decide if you are A) happy to take the play tent and canopies to the venue and set them up there and take them back down afterwards (takes longer) or B) would you like to be able to build the play tents just once, pop the canopies on and off you go in your vehicle (takes less time). 60% of my customers build and dismantle the play tents at the venue and with the help of a decent rechargeable screwdriver and the right drill bit this process can be speeded up significantly. It also means you have more flexibility re the size of the frame. But remember our new slimline tents give you great flexibility!
Once you have determined your mode of transport you can start thinking about what size play tent would suit your business.
All sizes of frames we make have exactly the same construction although the bigger tents have thicker timber and are much heavier. Our usual frames range from 110cm high to 160cm high.
We create by hand 5 sizes of A-Frames so you have lots of choice for your business whether you are starting out, or expanding your business to include older children or even adults.
The Best Friend - Standing at 160cm high, The Best Friend tent is one of our most popular tents as you can pop a double mattress inside up to 140cms wide and two friends can sleep under canvas. Unlike other manufacturers, we use thicker timber measuring 44mm x 35mm for our A-Frame legs to give it both strength and stability, a requirement of the Toy (Safety) Regulations UK 2011.
The Majestic - Standing at 140cm high, The Majestic is one of our most versatile tents! This is your ideal tent if you want to start a business and include older children or adults as sleepover clients. There is plenty of head height for grown ups to sit up and you can comfortably fit in a mattress up to 70cms width. Unlike other manufacturers, we use thicker timber measuring 44mm x 35mm for our A-Frame legs to give it both strength and stability, a requirement of the Toy (Safety) Regulations UK 2011.
The Standard - Standing at 120cm high The Standard is our most popular A-Frame to start your business with. The frame will easily accommodate children up to the age of 12 years (subject to the odd taller one!). The timber is 44mm x 20mm and enjoys both strength and stability along with our super strong joints and rubber feet.
The Starter - exactly the same as The Standard minus the little criss cross at the top. Popular with customers who may have smaller than average transport and need that little bit more room to fit the frame in their vehicle. We also do a slimline version of this tent.
The Mini - At 50cm high, we couldn't resist adding this little gem to our range for teddy bear picnics or a bit of Elf naughtiness at Christmas!
Wigwams come in two sizes and a choice of 9 colours in plain, machine washable 100% cotton heavy weight Panama or stunning lace in white or ivory. We can also make the canopies in a combination of plain panama with lace curtains. The lace covers can be ideal for weddings and picnic settings. The price is the same.
The Standard wigwam is 180cms tall when closed and has a footprint of 110cm sq when open.
The Large wigwam is 235cm tall when closed but reduces to 206cms tall when open so it will fit into the majority of rooms. When open, it has a 140cms sq footprint, ample room for two single or one double mattress.
We only use full length 25mm diameter pine poles with no nasty plastic joints which break plus they can still fit into an average family size car!
We use 8 ply double marine core cord to secure the poles and glued, rubber feet which stop the wigwam moving on smooth floors.
Add to this, fully machine washable luxurious, hard wearing fabrics, then you know you are buying a top quality product.
Our top quality plain panama fabric is made from 100% cotton, soft to the touch but super tough due to its medium weight credentials. It's a pleasure to launder and iron.
Our stunning lace is 100% easy care polyester, having a luxurious weight and 3 dimensional weave. Its robust while remaining elegant. It also does not crease - heaven!
Your wigwam is finished with UKCA / CE marks on both the poles and canopy so they are fully traceable back to us here, in the UK.
This is a hot topic! Most of you will want lavish themed or patterned fabrics and why wouldn’t you, they look amazing and add an incredible ambience to the party. However when we start looking at the fact each fabric style will need to be independently tested for chemical migration and flammability (approx £200 - £500 per fabric) depending on how many colours it has in it, it becomes very expensive! We tried testing several fabrics to give our customers choice but as you can imagine everyone has different tastes and the patterned fabrics were slow to sell but expensive to test......and lots of them failed the tests! On a side issue, you cannot put fire retardant fabric on your tents because the chemicals in the coating are toxic to children if they ingest them and they would likely fail chemical testing.
So having gone through numerous options we have made the decision to only offer a choice of 75 plain colours in 100% cotton for the A – Frames and 10 colours in 100% cotton heavyweight panama for the Wigwams. If you have any doubt that plain fabrics are boring and uninspiring, pop over to our gallery and see what folk are doing to accessorize and stylize their venues with plain covers.
Let us share some logic with you. Lets say you start with 6 play tents and six canopies. Most people want to offer themed parties and why not? So that’s 6 unicorn canopies, 6 mermaid canopies, 6 wizard canopies so on and so forth. That’s a lot of canopies and you are tied to that theme. There are more smart alternatives. About 75% of our customers start with neutral colours either white or ivory which can be accessorised for boys or girls parties and then gradually introduce more themes with accessories or coloured canopies. Another option; imagine buying a set of covers for girls consisting for example 2 teal green, 2 bright pink and two sky blue, you could do unicorns, mermaids, flamingos, boho, after prom and many other themes just from 6 covers. Boys, 2 black, 2 green, 2 navy blue, you could theme these as armies, football, wizard, super heros, Halloween ...now that is a smart way to save money on canopies and spend your money on accessories. Remember themes come and go but your canopies are the little black dress of the canopy world, they can go with anything if you choose wisely.
Our canopies are professionally made with Velcro fastenings so you don’t have to dismantle your frame to change the colour or wash them. The Velcro is also chemical and flammability tested!
On that note all canopies are preshrunk before being made so they won't shrink when you wash them and not fit your frame ever again! The fabrics are machine washable up to 30 degrees and dry very quickly when hung to dry naturally. They are beautiful to iron, we know, as we have to iron each and every one before we send them to you!
Please note that if after buying your play tents from us you make your own canopies for your play tents, your status as a distributor of play tents turns to a manufacturer of a toy play tent and you will need to ensure every component of your canopy is UKCA compliant including all fabrics, decorations, threads and any Velcro. They will need to be tested for chemical migration and flammability and you hold the test certificates. You will also need to produce a technical file and a UKCA Declaration of Conformity. These are our current responsibilities as a manufacturer and this is the reassurance you get when you buy your canopies from us. We take that hard work away and I’m sure you will understand these measures are in place to stop a child being badly burned if the play tent canopy caught fire.
We are always being asked what mattress should I get? Our first answer is quite truthful, what can you afford? This is our experience and theory.
When Ness started out she purchased 6 single blow up mattresses from Tesco’s. They were mid range at £15 each (some were just £5!). She brought a foot pump. It took her about 5-10 minutes to inflate each bed and in all honesty, she wasn’t born patient. Invariably she would return to collect them the following day and most were almost deflated. They were regularly punctured because kids like to jump on things as well as Fido the dog and Lucky the cat. Ness got fed up of repairing them and they were a pain to store. They would slide around and were slippy to lay on as well as noisy and were a pain to clean if there were any spillages.
She then tried some fold out travel mattresses 120cm long, 60cm wide 5cm depth. They were great to set up and put away, easier to transport and store but they were not much use for the older bigger children and or adults. They were more comfortable for the younger lighter ones but the bigger kids didn’t like them.
Ness explored other kinds of mattresses. She liked the foam mattresses with wipeable PVC covers but they were too, heavy big and bulky to transport, so she opted for the pillow mattress.
This is a mattress with 4 or 5 envelope openings into which a pillow is inserted. She tried some from Ebay but the openings were too big for the pillows and the pillows soon became flat. She then made her own and made the envelope openings smaller so when the bigger pillow was put inside it provided a very comfortable but more bulky mattress which to sleep on. Both Ness and her husband slept on them for a night.
So this is our choice and we make these mattresses to sell in two sizes the 4 section pillow mattress is £40 and is 180cm long and 60 cm wide.. The 5 section ones are £45 each for the cover that measures just over 200cm long and 60cm wide. They have double stitched reinforcement points and are made from heavy but soft panama fabric. They come in several colours. You can add your own pillows. Ness brought a pack of 4 Silentnight Bounce Back pillows from B&M for £14.99 to fill hers and they were anti – allergy, washable, so ideal for children. Ness also put waterproof, terry fabric pillow protectors on them so if there were any little accidents, the pillows would be protected. Our pillow mattresses are also pre shrunk and fully machine washable.
As for our theory – if you make your guests a comfortable space to sleep in and on, they will get a better nights sleep which is good for the guests and better for the parents.
So the mattress choice is yours – just experiment and find what works for you and your guests.
The other question we always get asked is ‘how many play tents should I start with’? There are so many factors to consider. The first obvious one is how much is your budget? Is this full time or part time? Do you want to grow your business over time? How many can you store and transport?
Everybody has their own reasons for wanting to start a sleepover business and we try to explore that with you if you asked us the question.
Our advice unless you decide to do a full on major investment launch, is start small. Grow organically, learn your trade and add more play tents as you understand the needs of your customers. Below are some examples of how we have helped customers to begin their business:
A customer had a smaller budget and could only afford to buy two play tent frames and canopies per month or couple of months. She now has 8 frames and is thriving!
Most customers buy 5-6 frames and a single neutral colour / individual colours or two sets of canopies in different colours. And when they have requests for 7 or 8 play tents, they contact us and we can usually get another two completed with a few weeks notice.
An increasing number of customers are buying 8-12 frames and various canopies as they intend to have a couple of parties running concurrently. We find the majority of these customers already have bouncy castle, soft play or bell tent businesses but want to expand or have options for the winter months.
Our record is 40 play tents but she had a nice husband and a credit card!
So as you can see there is no single ideal on how many you should start with as it depends on your budget, time available and ambitions.
You need to take out Public Liability Insurance. You are a business like any other business and you are responsible for the services and goods you provide. If something goes wrong and you get sued, at least your insurance will cover you. £5 million is the minimum we would recommend. Also if you employ someone or even if you take your friend along to help you and they have an accident they can sue you. It is an offence to employ someone (any age, for money or other gain, or just as work experience) and not have Employee Liability Insurance minimum £5 million in place. If in doubt make enquiries. If you collaborate with another business, make sure they also have insurance.
You may also want to consider insurance for your equipment or any other products you offer such as food, or other party supplies in case they get damaged or stolen.
As a business you are required by law (Section 3 Health & Safety at Work Act 1974) to adhere to all legislation relating to the health and safety of yourself, your employees and the public. You need to consider doing a risk assessment each time you stage a sleepover and include things like escape routes, food allergies, trip hazards, fire hazards to name but a few. It does not have to be in writing, however it is far more professional to have a written risk assessment that is invaluable evidence when things go wrong and the HSE come asking questions. Ness's previous job involved her sitting on serious case reviews and she promises if you are subject of a catastrophic incident involving a service or product your business supplies, it will be a very difficult and worrying time.
During the current Pandemic, business have been compelled to have a COVID 19 Policy, a risk assessment, method statements and evidence they are operating safely.
Ness has written a Guide to Risk Management and Risk Assessments for UK Sleepover Professionals. You can get your copy here.
A professional business owner will have as a minimum a booking form and some form of terms and conditions that should be read and signed by the customer. It is the foundation of your business and sets out the expectations you have of your customer and they have of you. It is good to have something to refer back to in writing when things don’t go to plan. It also shows your customer you are professional and care about them and your business.
Our group was established by our founder Vanessa Ramsay. It was created to enable a safe and friendly space for existing and new UK based Sleepover Party / Play Tent Hire businesses to start sharing and implementing good, safe practice now, so we can protect our businesses and our valued clients.