Birth Of A Hire Company
“If I can make a bra, I sure as hell can make a tablecloth”.Arthur Simmons c2000
Here’s the quick version of how 88 Events acquired their first set of tablecloths, chair covers and napkins.
Late 2000. 88 Events' founder Sheila Samuels was consulting with an American financial institution planning a series of events in Edinburgh. The lady running the event was a very experienced planner used to putting on lots of high-end events in the States.
She was becoming somewhat uninspired by the lack of table linen choice Sheila was proposing for the main event – a Georgian era themed gala dinner.
Somewhat exasperated, the client said she would just ship the linen over from America if Sheila couldn’t find her what she wanted. Never one to give up easily, Sheila asked for another week to see if she could source something better.
Struggling for inspiration, Sheila spoke to her husband Larry who was involved in the upholstery business. He gave her the address of a fabric importer in Glasgow. Sheila promptly jumped in the car and went to the importer's warehouse, explained the situation and left with a 16” square piece of fabric in a stunning damask normally used to cover sofas.
She then called on a chap called Arthur (aka her Dad). Arthur was enjoying his retirement but was a clothing manufacturer to trade. Arthur had a long and colourful history making everything from children's wear to lingerie. Sheila asked Arthur whether he was capable of using the fabric to make tablecloths, napkins and chair covers. Arthur looked at her somewhat bemused and said something along the lines of:
“If I can make a bra, I sure as hell can make a tablecloth”.
Encouraged, Sheila went back and purchased 15 metres of the fabric. She gave it to Arthur who went to work on his dining table, carefully making a pattern and getting his wife Rita to sew the panels together.
Sheila was bowled over. She boxed everything up, sent it to the client by Fedex and waited. Two days later, a fax came in to the office from the client. All it said was:
“Perfect. Now make me 40 cloths, 400 napkins, 400 chair covers and 400 chair ties!”
Somewhat daunted, Sheila rang Arthur up, asked him if he minded cutting his indoor bowls season short and coming out of retirement. Arthur called up one of his old machinists Irene (also retired) and the whole order was completed with about two weeks to spare.
And that is how 88 Events came to own the original range of Cream Damask linen that gave birth to a hire company.
But it didn’t end there. Over the next couple of years, Rita, Arthur and Irene went back to work and made the stock that would form the basis of 88 Events’ table linen range in those early years.
All 3 have since departed to the great big factory in the sky but their contribution to 88 Events will never be forgotten.