Hello again! I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time and I do apologise for going completely AWOL. I was taken over by Trade Show Fever and have only just recovered!
As you may know if you read this blog regularly, since I was awarded a place on the Next Steps Programme in 2013, I’ve been focusing on getting into wholesale once more and working towards my goal of doing my first ever trade show – the British Craft Trade Show to be precise – earlier this year, in April.
My last post documented what I was up to 7 weeks prior to the show and I had intended to post regular updates leading up to it, but the trade show fever took over and I just never found the time. So have you been waiting with baited breath to find out what happened?
I’ve been using Instagram a lot since January and unfortunately, as it’s so easy to post image updates on that via my iPhone, my blog has been a little neglected. But I’m happy to say I’ve got quite a small following on Instagram now and I’m trying to figure out how to connect instagram with my blog so that I can keep the blog up to date with my goings on.
Anyway…. Here’s a mini gallery of images showing my pre-show prep the week before BCTF…
I had a bit of a nightmare drive down south as even though I thought I’d chosen the coastal route on my google maps iPhone app, I hard accidently chosen the other option and found myself heading towards Glasgow on the M8. I’m crap at geography but took a swift decision to get onto the M74 towards Carlisle and when the app decided to just quit for no reason, I panicked and took the next turning for Ecclefechan simply to reset the satnav, but also because I thought it was the most brilliant place name! I must make myself a map badge!
After several more geoographical blunders, I made it to Harrogate and to my hotel, totally pooped. I had a take out meal, watched some crap TV and got my stuff ready for the morning – set up day – and then went to bed.
At no point did I feel stressed or nervous and I know this is down to the fact I did so much planning and prep and over-thinking. All that hard work paid off as even when I got to the point of setting up and discovered my poles were too long, my shelves weren’t going to fit etc. I just found solutions, like a man with a hacksaw…
All the other stand holders were in the same boat and we all helped each other out and got our displays sorted. It was non-stop all day and I even stayed way beyond the deadline of 6pm for setting up to finalise stuff, so I didn’t need to do it on the morning the show opened. I did feel a little stressed at the end of the day when I discovered my look book was missing and that two of my antique silverware rings were also missing. I didn’t shed a tear though and just stayed calm – they were either in my hotel room or someone had pinched them. I foundit hard to believe that someone would take a look book and two random boxes (as they were packed up right up until the last minute), so stuck with the thought that they must be in my hotel room.
If they were indeed missing, I had my laptop with me, so could reprint my look book in the morning and I would just need to change the layout of my rings a little – so nothing to lose sleep over and in the end I did find everything in my hotel room – phew.
Here’s a gallery of images from the set-up day. I couldn’t believe how small the stand area looked when I first got to it. 2m x 1m in my head seemed so vast!
On the Sunday, the first day of the show, I just had to get into the zone and meet and greet buyers. I felt a little nervous to begin with, just because I’d never done a trade show before and didn’t know what to expect, but after a while I got into the flow of my sales patter and started to just really enjoy being there, meeting people, talking about my work. It was brilliant.
More images of my stand:
Looking back I’m not so sure the curtain works. I like the colour and it gives the stand a bit of oomph, but I don’t think I’ll be using it next year.
I’m so pleased how my antique school desk turned out. It looked amazing and I think it showed off my jewellery really well.
Those little envelopes on the shelf were my mini buyers packs – all totally hand crafted and unique made from envelopes, maps, music etc.
My antique silverware rings proudly on display – I loved how this display turned out in the end.
Here are some little details of my Enduring Love Collection display. I ended up using old cutlery as well as spoon boxes to display the items in the collection – I got tons of positive feedback about this and I’m really chuffed I put in the effort in the end.
So day one went past – lots of interest, but no orders.
Day two went past – again lots of interest, but not orders…
Until the afternoon when two ladies from Knaresborough, who had popped by my stand in the morning, came back to place an order. I was over the moon.
Day three was mostly full of students meandering about and not many buyers, but I managed to get another order in the afternoon and also met my dream client which made doing the show totally worthwhile as, in the past week, I’ve found out they will be placing an order!
So keep an eye on my Stockists page as it will be updated with a few new places you’ll be able to buy Milomade goodies soon.
I was lucky to have a great quirky bunch of designers and makers as stand neighbours and we all had such a laugh together and I’ll be writing a few separate blog posts over the coming weeks about some of them and showcasing their work.
Anyway, to round up this post. I’ve worked like a dog for about a year getting ready for BCTF. It’s been hard work and I’ve had lots of help along the way in the form of mentoring and online training courses and webinars. I’ve gone through all my products and had a huge cull and focused only on what was working and what would be profitable. I’ve re-thought my packaging and redesiged my product inserts> With my jewellery, I’ve focused on creating collections and the stories behind them. There have been ups and downs, seriously low points as well as amazing high points and moments of clarity – all this to tranform Milomade from something I used to do as a sideline, to hopefully something I can now confidently do for a living.
Believe it or not, I’m still doing BCTF follow ups, as I made so many contacts over the three days I was in Harrogate and all the hard work I put into the show is now paying off. I’m making plans for the rest of the year, as I’ve got my open studio event to work towards, as well as the possibility of starting back on the Craft Fair circuit.
But I’m also looking forward to next year. You’ll be able to see Milomade at Stand 184 in 2016 – I’ve already booked – see you there.