If there is one thing I love, it’s coming across interesting and unique businesses. I think today’s business – Australian tipi hire company Tipikata, certainly fits the bill so it’s a joy to welcome Lina and Hayley, the owners of the business to Polka Dot Wisdom!

Why teepees? Would you tell us how you became involved in this unusual business?

Hayley: Last year I travelled to the UK for the first time in over 20 years to attend a friend’s 40th birthday party. I knew before I left Australia that the party was to be held in tipis, but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I saw the tipis nestled together and then spent the weekend celebrating in them with friends, old and new, that I was really captivated and fell in love with them. A seed was planted on that weekend and I was already talking about bringing them to Australia before the celebrations had even finished. I just thought the tipis would be perfect here and I was so excited by the opportunity to share the amazing experience I had celebrating in a tipi, with everyone back home. Who better to share a dream and vision with than your best friend? Lina was just as excited by the opportunity as I was and so we began the TipiKata adventure as BFFBP’s (best friends forever business partners…can you tell we have teen daughters?).

Lina: Gosh! Not sure where to start! As Hayley said she travelled to the UK and fell in love with the tipis. I had not seen the concept until it was suggested to me and instantly loved the idea of celebrations in a tipi. So when Hayley (we’d been close friends for many years) asked me to join forces with her start Tipikata I was thrilled and very excited! I had not seen the tipis in the “flesh” until we brought them to Australia earlier this year at our special launch weekend. I remember being completely blown away by their size and beauty.

What is special about having your celebration in a teepee? Is there any folklore attached to a teepee? 

Hayley: If you haven’t already guessed I am totally besotted by our tipis and have been from the minute that I began my first celebration in one.  I have always described it as a magical ‘x factor’ that they have, but it has always been hard to explain what it is that makes them so special. These structures have been part of many traditional nomadic cultures on all sides of the world providing simple and practical shelter and protection for generations of families. But I love the symbolism of the tipi teachings of the Cree people. They believe that each pole has a specific meaning. To start constructing a tipi you join three poles to make a tripod. These three poles together fortify the structure. The meanings of these three poles are obedience, respect and humility. They can’t support the structure alone, but when balanced properly together, they are able to reinforce each other.

After the tripod is up, the other poles are added and have meanings and teachings like happiness, love, faith, kinship, thankfulness, cleanliness, sharing, strength, good child rearing, hope and ultimate protection. The poles are all joined together, binding the teachings together to create strong connections of balance and harmony for the inhabitants. Maybe the magical x factor that I can’t really explain is about the connection, balance and harmony that is created by the simple structure and shape of a traditional family dwelling.

Lina: I think for me the really cool thing is that these tipis have been used for centuries by the Nordic Sami people in Lapland and that their robust and somewhat magical qualities create an atmosphere that cannot be replicated by modern day products. The pointed top on our tipis is for practical purposes as these dwellings typically had open fireplaces internally which of course needed ventilation. We also, are using fireplaces today to create warmth and ambience and to just add to the overall “specialness” of our tipis.

What services do you provide to the bride and groom? 

Hayley: If you love the idea of a tipi wedding, then TipiKata’s service begins with helpful advice on beautiful locations for a tipi celebration, as well as providing suggestions for caters, styling, decoration and we will always try to help with any other advice and tips we can. We know people are busy and there is so much to think about when organizing a wedding, so we offer packages including floor matting, lighting kits, a gorgeous open fireplace, rustic wooden trestle tables and chairs/benches. Dance floor, AV systems, heating, cooling and additional decorative lighting can also be organized through us. In consultation with the bride and groom we create a customized floor plan and everything will be set up by the Tipi Team according to each couples requirements.

Once you’ve got your location sorted, if required we organize an onsite visit to help select the best location and aspect for the tipi set up, making recommendations for views, orientation and access. We also check details like weather conditions, electricity & water availability so that everything runs smoothly on the day of the celebration. We are on call if you have any questions during your event or we can provide a member of the Tipi Team to be onsite for the duration of the event to take care of those small details like lighting the fire and raising or lowering the sides of the tipi.

Lina:The hire of our tipis are generally for a 48hour period so in the case of a wedding there is plenty of time for styling as they would be up the day before. This also means that the bride and groom can party all night and not be worried about being told to leave at Midnight (depending on the site of course!) We have also known of some people using them to sleep in after the celebrations – possibly not the bride and groom though! As Hayley mentioned people are busy and so we want to make the experience as easy as possible for them by putting together packages to suit their budgets.

How many guests can you accommodate in one teepee? What is the maximum number of teepees you can provide – and this seats how many?

Hayley: A single tipi will accommodate up to 70 guests for a sit down dinner or 100 guests for a cocktail function or party. With a two tipi set up we recommend 120 people for dining, leaving plenty of room for a dance floor or space to gather around our gorgeous open fire place.

Lina: Additionally if our clients want more seating and a dance floor we can also accommodate this by having the dance floor under the tables and later moving them when it’s time for the dancing to start.

Hayley: Having the sides raised on the tipis allows for additional under cover space if weather conditions allow. In 2013 TipiKata will be offering three and four tipi set ups creating lots of amazing tipi configurations that can create dining spaces for up to 220 seated guests for a four tipi set up.

Are there any restrictions on what the bride and groom can provide or do as far as bringing in other vendors, furniture, catering etc?

Hayley: The wonderful thing about a tipi wedding is that all the choices are completely in the hands of the bride and groom. They can choose the location, the caterer, decorations and even the duration of the celebration. Imagine having a tipi celebration that goes all weekend!! We will offer as much advice and support as required to help make the process as easy as possible, but if you have your own ideas or suppliers then you can just let your imagination and creativity loose and create a unique celebration that totally suit your own individual style and tastes. The choices are all yours.

Lina: One of our Tipikata’s bylines is “Dream, Create, and Celebrate!” A wedding day is a dream come true and perhaps the bride and groom (typically the bride – apologies to the grooms out there!) have had some ideas based on some special events and memories around their relationship. Our blank canvas is just that, we can help to create a special day with as Hayley mentioned suggesting sites and caterers but ultimately the bride and groom are completely free to plan and chose their wedding or alternatively get our assistance which we would be glad to assist with.

What sort of flooring is in the teepee – can a dance floor or other flooring of your choice be added?

Hayley: We provide a high quality woven floor matting that is available with our tipi hire. The matting has a soft, fresh, natural look that compliments the tipis beautifully and adds to the warmth and ambience of the set up. You can definitely add a dance floor on top of the matting as well.

Is the teepee weather proof – in the case of a sudden storm or unexpected cold night?

Hayley: Absolutely!! Our tipis are based on ancient design principles. For generations nomadic people from all over the world have protected themselves from the elements in this type of construction. The weather resistance of Nordic tipis means they are suitable for events in any season and in any kind of weather. We always monitor weather conditions carefully in the lead up to the event and will set up the tipis to best suit the forecast conditions.

Lina: For inclement weather our clients can always request somebody onsite for some peace of mind. If there is an emergency we can always be contacted and will resolve any issues which may have arisen immediately. Part of our service would also be to instruct one person on how to open and close our tipis so that minor adjustments could be made if necessary.

What other events are suitable for holding in a teepee?

Hayley: These tipis are just fantastic for just about any type of gathering – birthday celebrations, festivals, Christmas and work functions, workshops and seminars, parties and even family reunions. Anytime that you want to bring together a group of people then a tipi could be just what you need to make your event a total stand out and a complete success.

Lina: The type of event is only limited by your imagination. We have seen our tipis host “Toga Parties” in the UK which we thought was a real hoot! Typically these tipis have been used for accommodation over the centuries so I could see our tipis being host to a big massive slumber party one day!

Do you provide other items as well as the teepee? (e.g. open fire place?)

We can provide additional hire items like lighting, flooring, gorgeous rustic furniture and our amazing open fire place.  If there is anything else you need we will point you in the right direction.

 What are your dreams for Tipikata?

Hayley: We want to take our passion and enthusiasm for our first class product and combine it with outstanding service, so that the name TipiKata becomes synonymous with unique and stunning celebrations. By bringing a little extra to every event that we are a part of and surpassing the expectations of our clients, we have the opportunity to assist with making their celebration everything they want it to be and more. From the big picture, to the small details, our dream is take your vision and make it happen. We want every one of our tipi weddings to stay in the memories of each guest as an absolutely, one of a kind, amazing celebration!

Lina: Alongside our dream of providing a wonderful product with outstanding service we would love to build a company which prides itself on truly listening to their customers even if it means that sometimes offering them advice which may mean we cannot help them. We hope that the way Tipikata goes about its business will endear us to people as company which is characterized by honesty and integrity aiming to make their celebration wonderful and memorable!

Images from  Tipikata