*Pictures are by the lovely Steph Tan of Steph Tan Photography who worked extremely hard to get these beautiful angles and pictures. Thank you Steph!
I can't believe it's been over a week since our Lantern Carnival. It took two full weeks to prepare and lots of sleepless nights of worrying!
Mark and Carol were in charge of most of the preps. I got the easy task of doing the art work and being the driver. We were worried whether the venue was big enough, cool enough, safe enough, or whether there was enough food for children of all ages, or whether the games suited children of all ages (hence we asked for the ages of your children when you signed up). We got my niece to test out the games beforehand, and that's when we realized we needed to make it easier because a good number of RSVPs had indicated that toddlers were attending. Which means while we thought that throwing stuff into pails and the ring toss was easy, it wasn't that easy for a 2 year old to "win" the game until after like 6 - 8 tries.
Then we realized that the first set of prizes we had bought again weren't that suitable for toddlers, so we made a second trip to Toy r Us and some other stores to find more "toddler-friendly" prizes. We were so worried that the older children would be bored whilst the younger ones would have nothing to play. We were wondering whether people would have enough to do and whether there was enough space to sit. And then we worried whether anyone was actually going to turn up! So, well, you can imagine why we were having sleepless nights!
And the night after the Carnival, I was still having sleepless nights wondering whether the food was enough, whether the lantern walk was too short and whether everyone had a good time! But we were simply blest - our wonderful friends stepped in to help to be our crew and they didn't just help, they brought the party with them! Great friends like Gail and Jimmy whose children volunteered to help out at the game stalls helped to clean everything up and they did it all with so much cheer.
All of them were just wonderful with the children, sticking tattoos patiently on them, bending down to help the little ones and resetting the toys over 60 times (yea I know this because after the party they counted the number of tokens they had collected to see who ran the most "favourite" store)! So tell us, which one was your favourite?
I also remember the weather looking horrendous at 12 noon and my friends asking for our wet weather plan. Of course having to squeeze 120 people into the function room with the games was not going to be great so we just prayed for the weather to clear. And it did and the weather became just perfect for the games! At 5.30 pm, our guests turned up dressed in Elly togs and they were excited and raring to go! Our guests had extremely encouraging things to say to us and some even brought us gifts which we are very grateful for. And we were so glad that everyone brought with them their carnival spirit and cheer!
We had hired an ice-cream man who turned up at 6 pm and rang his traditional ice-cream-man-bell and boy, was our Crew grateful for the bell because it gave them a good 10 minute breather from squatting / standing / resetting the bowling pins / talking / collecting the rings as the children made a beeline for ice-cream to cool off! I think some guests didn't realize he was part of the party. I overheard a comment how it was abit of luck that the ice-cream man was in the condo at the same time, and one of our Crew even tried to pay for his ice-cream! I was going on adrenalin that day after two weeks of running around and spending half a day at the store and putting up the deco since 2 pm that day.
During the 2 weeks, we still had a store to run and were trying to cope with inventorising the new products coming in, putting through our Christmas orders and of course, managing production for our upcoming collections. At some point, I couldn't feel my feet and I think the adrenalin stopped and I could feel the exhaustion just set in and suddenly it all just sunk in! I remember standing in the garden and looking across the grass and there were ALL THESE CHILDREN WEARING ELLY! Now I know we've sold a fair bit of dresses and shirts over the past year but to put them all in one space and see at least one child wearing something from every single one of our collections (and I can name the collections for you - there was "Elly loves Spring" back in March 2011, "Elly loves Summer", "Elly loves Wild Friends", "Elly loves Planes Trains and Automobiles", "Elly loves a Blue Christmas", "Elly loves Dragons", "Elly loves Balloons" and "Elly loves Summer Days")... now that feeling was simply indescribable. I held my breath so that I wouldn't burst into a flurry of rather un-glamourous tears and ruin the Carnival spirit.
I also remember my mom and dad turning up at some point, all smiles, and coming over to ask where their little grand-daughter was because they just couldn't believe they were seeing so many Elly dresses and they couldn't spot her amongst all the Elly dresses!!! And they were proud of us too. I know that. Well, you ask how do we run this business? Well, we definitely don't do it alone. We can't, actually - erm we're not that good. We have pretty amazing support from family and friends who give up their weekend, weekends even, to make sure everything at Elly runs smoothly and to ease our stress. They help out when we participate in fairs, at our events, at the store on busy weekends just bringing lunch to us or helping us move our stock to the store or pack fabrics into cartons, some even pop round for lunch at Cluny so that I don't have to lunch alone during weekdays... That's how we do it.
I delayed writing this post for so long because i needed it all to sink in and properly appreciate the pictures, the smiles and all the effort put in by both the Crew and the guests alike! People often ask why I quit law and set Elly up - I guess the Carnival summed it up for me.