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Gran Tess Carlake starts scooter clothing stall at Dockside Outlet Centre


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When Tess Carslake lost her job at a clothes shop, she spent months applying for other positions but got endless rejections.

So eventually she took the plunge and put a third of her redundancy money into her own business selling tee-shirts at a stall at Chatham's Dockside Outlet Centre.

Tess Carslake (back right) with daughter Steph Dale and friend Lesley Card (front)
Tess Carslake (back right) with daughter Steph Dale and friend Lesley Card (front)

The 57-year-old said: "The gist of it was, I think people thought I was too old. I've always been in retail, so I thought why not go it alone?

"I got £3,000 redundancy, put £2,000 on paying bills and a new TV and the rest into the stall.

"So I started off with a dozen lines of clothing and I now have built it up to 40 different lines and have loyal customers."

Grandmother Tess said as a young girl growing up she had heard of mods and rockers but never really been into the music scene that went with that era.

She first got involved with the scooter lads after selling Lambretta brands at her old shop Double Two in the shopping centre, which catered for the "larger gentlemen".

Scooters at the centre. Picture by James Beale Photography
Scooters at the centre. Picture by James Beale Photography
Scooter extravaganza at Dockside Outlet
Scooter extravaganza at Dockside Outlet

She said: "I got to know the customers and above all, admired their passion.

"I didn't know much about scooters, but now I love the sound, the look and the stylish clothes that go with it.

"I have never been on one because I can't even balance on a ladder, but I have joined 15 clubs on Facebook. It's a very close community."

The popularity of Scoots Clothing, featuring Lambretta, Trojan and Ska wear, proved itself when she organised an event for enthusiasts on the forecourt of the centre.

The mum-of-three added: "There were about 100 scooter riders there from clubs across the county.

A rider attending the event. Credit James Beale Photography
A rider attending the event. Credit James Beale Photography

"Some of the bikes were amazing. They can spend between £5,000 to £18,000 on them.

"One nearly toppled over and you should have seen the rush to stop it crashing it to the floor."

The event included competitions for the best Vespa and Lambretta with trophies and cash prizes.

The overall winner was Terry von Hassell from the Sittingbourne Knights.

Live band the Best of British performed and a snack bar offered a discount menu.

Scooter enthusiasts coverged on Dockside Outlet Centre
Scooter enthusiasts coverged on Dockside Outlet Centre

Tess said: "I am already planning another event next year, which will be bigger and better and attract more of the public.

"It will certainly have the wow factor."

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