Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Drawer

The Story behind my first trade fair:
Late last year I was contacted by Charlotte Abrahams (a freelance writer and journalist) and asked if I would like to be part of an event she curates at the Top Drawer Trade Fair, called 'Spotted'. Spotted is intended as an entry point for designer/makers to get a foot in the trade fair door without it costing the earth.
I was initially unsure whether I could take part - aside from the quite scary prospect of putting yourself out there publicly for the first time at such a huge event in a renowned venue such as Earls Court in London, there was also the consideration of whether handmade products would be well received at a trade fair alongside mass produced products. Could I price my items competitively enough to interest people and to still be able to make money for myself? And did I actually have enough money to invest in this initially?
After considering all of the above, I decided to go for it. You've got to be in it to win it, and if I hadn't I would probably always be wondering 'what if...'
Fast forward a few months to January, and with lots of planning, deciding and prototyping, I was exhibiting my soft toys, kits and tea towels at Earls Court:
My soft toys and kits

one of my new tea towels

spotted plus (for last years spotted exhibitors)

This was a really good experience and definitely a big learning for me. It was great to speak to potential retailers and get first hand feedback. One of the big and constant pieces of feedback was that retailers wanted kits - I had just two for the show. I'll definitely be following up on this and introducing a range of kits in the coming months.
I've had a couple of orders which I'll be working on in the coming few weeks, and gave my details to lots of buyers so hopefully I'll see some more orders trickling in over the next few weeks.
It was also great to meet some of the other exhibitors at the show - people in the same boat as me and my new business and people with a little more experience - who had really invaluable advice to pass on to a newbie such as myself.
One thing I have learnt is that trade fairs are exhausting. I think I need a few days to recover.

5 comments:

littletree... said...

Congrats! That is a massive step up, top drawer is a big event, I think I would have been a bit scared! Sound like it was really productive so thats great, go relax with a cuppa tea u earned it!x

selfsewn@summerfete said...

Looks like just the place to start!!

pop-i-cok said...

well done you :-) x

amy said...

Oh good job Vanessa- love how the plushies look!

picciolo said...

I'm so glad it went well, your stand looks amazing! I'm sure you will get lots of orders everything looks great
: )