Hari founded Lotus Belle tents in 2012 (see Lotus Belle) after becoming a single mum and following a difficult start where she was told that her different design concept would “never amount to anything.” Roll on a few years and she is so happy that she eventually decided to ignore this and push on with her dream! Few “Glamping” sites are complete without the beautiful curvaceous lines of Lotus Belle tents – a unique canvas tent design that boasts all the portability and usability of a standard bell tent whilst affording the roomy luxuriousness of a yurt.
It is constructed from the highest quality components with a high tech 360/380 gram canvas which comes ready with a premium water, rot and fire retardant treatment.
The entire tent packs into a bag 40cm x 40cm x 130cm requiring minimal storage space off-season and it fits easily into the boot of a car. Once pitched the 5 metre model has an astonishing 18 square meters of standing space inside with 1.8m of headroom minimum all the way to the edge. This means it can be fitted out with standard height beds and normal household furniture or standard camping fayre.
It’s also remarkably easy to pitch, literally a one-man job that takes barely 20 minutes. It also comes at a very reasonable price point, making it accessible to families as well as glampsites and festivals.
Hari was fascinated by tents from a young age. She spent her early childhood making camping furniture out of Meccano or bits of wood she found as well as doing plenty of camping with family and with Forest School Camps. For her tenth birthday she received a Vaude dome tent which she absolutely loved. She would pitch it in her family’s back garden and sleep in it every night throughout the summer.
“To me there’s nothing better than the sense of freedom I get from being outside, I feel really happy being close to nature. Also having a small space that I can keep really clean, and knowing where all my belongings are, makes me feel secure and safe.”
As she grew older, her fascination with yurts and the idea of living within a circular space also grew. She made a Mongolian style yurt, aged sixteen, using sticks from the hedges around her parents’ house. On moving to Falmouth University, Hari shunned the usual student digs and converted a minibus so that she could continue her camping dream on the Cornish coast. In this, she produced a raft of designs for various types of tents or ‘tiny homes’.
This culminated in her dissertation which was titled ‘the importance of circular space’ resonating with the sacred Mongolian belief system about a circular space being soothing and embracing, promoting unity, equality and community as everyone can sit an equal distance from the centre and face in towards each other. Hari owned a bell tent at this time for camping trips and loved the look and feel of canvas; the simplicity of the design; how quick and easy they are to pitch and pack away. Her sketches homed in on circular designs marrying together the roomy aspects of Yurts with the ease and portability of Bell tents. Lecturers were less than enthusiastic and told Hari that her designs for the ‘Onion Dome’, as it was originally known, would ‘never amount to anything’.
This was disheartening and Hari left uni to do what many of us think we should do…get a sensible job! She thus completed a PGCE and worked as a textiles teacher in a secondary school in Weymouth. Her passion for tent making never went away, however and she found herself encouraging students in her class to design and prototype one-man tents.
Hari was twenty-three when she had Mani, her first child. Then just before Jago was born, life took a turn and she became a single parent. These were seriously tough times. Hari spent time juggling house moves, changes of jobs and area but realises when looking back, that the sheer desperation of those times forced her to reconsider her path and led her to where she is today.
Then came the rise of glamping, with families wanting to retain a touch of luxury but still experience outdoor living. The ‘Onion Dome’ suddenly seemed viable and Hari revisited her design. She then contacted the man that she had originally bought her bell tent from who was overwhelmingly positive about the design and invited her to meet his factory where they made the first Lotus Belle prototype. After several revisions and a lot of hard work, a workable model was produced.
Hari took a leap of faith and invested her life savings into getting the first run of twenty Lotus Belle tents made. This was coupled with a realisation that no market research had been done and thus Hari spent a sleepless six months, constantly worrying that they wouldn’t sell. She needn’t have worried as trips to festivals to showcase the Lotus Belle tents evoked great positivity and the orders started coming in – firstly in trickles, then in bulk orders allowing Hari to breathe a huge sigh of relief!
Hari met her partner, Ben in 2013. He was in the process of selling his stage, sound and lighting hire business and was looking to move in a new direction, so he started to help in the business. In 2016, Hari fell pregnant with baby Elowen and they made the brave (plus a few other adjectives!) decision to start working together as partners in business as well as in life. This sharing of the load has made motherhood a totally different experience for Hari this time around and she also has the freedom to keep designing innovative new products like the Air Bud and the Lotus Mahal as well as lots of accessories and innovative new features to the original design like the Stargazer roof system and the Cocoon / Insulated linings.
Hari feels eternally grateful that the rise of Glamping coincided with the arrival of her Lotus Belle tents – the two have become synonymous. But she leaves the last work to her dad: “If you design something good, people will beat a path to your door.”
They certainly did!
Click here to learn more about these stunning and unique tents: Lotus Belle