It’s official, Warminster has Swished!
Emma Croft from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is working in Warminster for 6 months with the aim of encouraging the local community to reduce the waste they send to landfill. And I have been ‘helping’, along with Verity (my co-conspirator at Make It Better).
We had a really great mix of ‘Swishers’-ladies of all ages came to Give and Take, and a jolly good time was had by all.
One lady even said that we should do one every two weeks, and then none of us would ever have to go (clothes) shopping again!
If you are sat there thinking “what a great idea, I wish we had one in my town”, then why not put one on yourself!
Ours was the simplest format you could ask for. I will give you the ‘How-to’.
This is what you need:
- A venue-we were very lucky as we were allowed the use of the Skittle alley at the wonderful Organ Inn for free, so had no overheads. Look around your local area to see if any of the pubs have a back room, or function room-it works well in this sort of venue, as it brings the pub new customers, people can come and have a browse, go off and have a drink and then come back again for another look around later on in the evening. Or stay all evening with a drink and have a natter! It made for a real atmosphere of a proper night out!
- Clothes! We started the night with the results of the de-cluttering that Emma and I had done on our own wardrobes, along with a bag of stuff from my mum, and some from Vicky (a colleague of Emma’s) and Verity. Between us we had more than enough to get started. When people arrived, they handed over their stuff and we laid it out while they started to rummage
- Some way of displaying the clothes-we had 4 tables (Emma very cleverly remembered tablecloths so they looked a bt prettier than just plain tables),
a hanging rail (I am reliably informed you can get a pretty sturdy one from Ikea for abou £20-30, or your local Am Dram society might let you borrow one, or I even read about one Swish were they borrowed them from a local shop),
a dressmakers dummy, and a wooden towel rail thing. Other ideas include stringing up some clothesline and then pegging the clothes up, or one of those lovely wooden clothes airers would work well
- Somewhere to try things on, and a mirror. Verity bought along one of those folding screen things, that we used in the corner of the room, as an impromptu changing room
- Nibbles (optional)
- A seamstress-optional-we had Verity on hand to give out advice on altering anything that didn’t quite fit or to give ideas for how items could be altered or embellised to enhance them, and I think this was a great ‘service’ to be offering and certainly helped people look a little differently at some of the items.
- Upcycled Bunting-this is obligatory…
- Publicity-posters etc.
This is what you do:
- Find a venue and set a date! Friday night worked well for us, and it was very much a bit of ‘night out’ but think about what would work best in your town
- Advertise-we plastered the town in posters, put an ad in the local paper and shouted about it on Facebook and Twitter.
Set it up as an event on Facebook, and invite all your friends and ask them to share it.
Contact your local paper-they might do a small feature on it beforehand for you, and also the local radio stations.
It is often also worth e-mailing all the local schools to see if they will put it on their newsletters, and that way you can let all the parents know about your wonderful event
- Decide on the structure of your Swish-ours was deliberately kept very simple- the ‘price’ of entry was at least one item of clothing, and a donation to the Wildlife Trust is people wanted to. And then people had free rein to take whatever they wanted to. There was a small concern that some people might just bring on one rubbishy thing, and then swan off with armfulls of stuff, but this really didn’t happen at all-in fact, almost the opposite-most people were worried about taking too much, or kept asking how they had to pay!
A couple of people also asked about donating ‘higher end’ stuff-like a Boden coat and a Karen Millen dress, worried they wouldn’t get their ‘money’s worth’ and my advice was just that it they would begrudge someone else having it, then it might be better to try it on E-bay.
Some Swishes run all sort of token systems, giving various amounts of tokens for items, depending on their quality, and the label, and then people can hang onto their tokens for the next Swish if they don’t see anything they like.
As this was the first one we had done, and we were unsure of how well attended it would be, we just kept it as simple and informal as possible, and it seemed to work well-I think everyone went away happy!
I got so excited I forgot to take any pictures of the Swish in progress. Another local blogger came along to take some pics and said I could have some of his, so I will post some more when I have them!
And that’s about it! It really is very easy.
We will definitely do another, and it would be great if it could become a regular thing.
We had thought about having a BigSwish in a bigger setting, with an upcycled/vintage/charity shop fashion show, and entertainment/stalls etc, but for now, I am more than happy with what we acheived last night.
I love that it is a way of getting people to Make Do and Mend without even realising they are doing it, and a way of starting up a converation with people about all kinds of sustainability issues, without coming across as preachy or worthy.
AND we had a really good night out!