Preparing for our first trade show!
getting ready to reveal the new products!
Photography by Alexandra Wallace
This year we are heading to our first ever trade show!! Can you believe it? We can’t!
After moving up North to Sheffield in 2018 and approaching more and more stockists with our products it became clear that we needed to join the big boys and venture to a trade show. Pairing this research with the fact we were launching new products this year, it felt like the right time to branch out.
Choosing which trade show was based on a few things.. advice, googling and our piggy bank. We ended up choosing to go with the British Craft and Trade Fair in Harrogate because it met all of our criteria. It was recommended to us by some of our existing stockists, the Fair promotes locally made British quality products which we thoroughly approve of and it is a good size to sink our teeth into this big, new, scary and exciting world of trade fairs.
When the decision was first made we were thoroughly unaware of just how much work goes into one. First thing was first, we needed to make sure we had the products to present to the buyers. Not only did the new products need to be designed, but suppliers needed to be found. The designing was fun and it was incredibly exciting to imagine everything coming to life but the suppliers was a little trickier. As the environment is so important to us, we wanted to find suppliers who had the same ethos as us and who created quality products. Samples were made, noses were turned up and we got more than a little picky about the products we were producing but finally everything was settled. I’d like to point out here that price obviously comes into play as well. As we are aware that stockists need to put a considerable mark up on our products in order to make it worthwhile for them, it meant that for some products we were thinking of developing that we would only be making 2p profit per sale. This is because currently we are too small to be ordering those big bulky quantities that afford larger companies the wholesale discounts when ordering from suppliers. We didn’t want to out-price ourselves from the market so tried to keep costs down for our consumers but also wanted to be careful to never compromise on quality either.
After that came the packaging problemo. How to pack all of our beautiful new items without them being damaged or without damaging the environment? Ultimately we have made the decision not to use plastic wherever possible in our packaging, urging our new stockists to take our cards “naked” without cello wraps and with boxes filled with shredded paper or recycled boxes that we were sent ourselves. I am sure we will come across some obstacles as we move forward but we feel it is important to put our best foot forward in our new adventure.
By this stage, we have the products, they are packaged… but now they need to be presented! We have opted to be in the Newcomers Gallery at the trade show because, well, we are new! Its a good start and a great place for buyers to come and see us newbies whilst also understanding that whilst we are very organised and have highly researched everything, we may still be a little fresh off the block. The newcomers spaces are only small, just 2m x 1m, but as someone who is only 5ft I can tell you that small doesn’t bother us. The space has been designed to reflect our brand colours (think peach and mint colours) and to showcase all of the products to their best potential whilst not over crowding this little area.
On top of designing the stand there were many other things to think about such as the product catalogue. Although I am an illustrator and have a good understanding and eye for layout (especially when it comes to wedding stationery), designing a catalogue was very new. With the help of graphic designer Alex Birks, I am so thrilled with the brochure produced and having it printed by Spiegl Press in Stamford was the cherry on top. However, the real star of the show was Alexandra Wallace who took all of the product photography for me and helped to make my products shine! We had the most fun day doing a product shoot at the most gorgeous house that was offered up to us after we put a plea out on Facebook. Lorna Vertigan donated her kitchen and dining room and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful set up.
In addition to all of this, we then had to create order forms, price sheets, new business cards, giveaways, press releases, press packs and the list goes on and on and on. The website also had an overhaul to now be able to accommodate all of the new products and be more user friendly.
So there you have it, our journey into the unknown. My advice to anyone who is thinking of doing their first trade fair is to just go for it! Dive in and plunge yourself into the scary world but be prepared. Give yourself plenty of time and ask for as much advice as possible from anyone who is willing to give it. That’s what we have certainly done. It has been a rollercoaster and I have cried over the most ridiculous of things with both happy and sad tears (fabric labels not being white enough tops the list). We are really excited for the trade show to get started and to be able to show the world what we have been working so hard on. Fingers crossed for us and we will see you on the other side!!
For more information about the show, it is on 7th-9th April in Harrogate and is the British Craft and Trade Fair (https://bctf.co.uk/).