A week ago today I was in an Airbnb in Glasgow nursing a very sore case of tendonitis in my knee. I was literally putting my feet up with an icepack on my knee after a long day setting up for Scotland’s Trade Fair at the SEC.
For the first time ever my partner agreed to be my roadie and drove me to Glasgow, helped me unload the car and diverted a meltdown when I discovered the wooden stands were a lot taller than the ones I was used to and also not as wide. I panicked and thought my amazing banner wasn’t going to fit. His level headedness, logic and calm got me to think straight and we got the banner up in no time and in the end it was a perfect fit! Phew….it was plain sailing from then on.
Here I am in my happy place. I love a good trade show and the set up is particuarly exciting. A little bit like theatre, setting the scene and then the lights come up and it’s time to perform in my own one woman show…
This was my first time at Scotland’s Trade Fair and to say I was a little excited would be an understatement. I grinned through my pain, as I sat there with an icepack on my knee and looked forward to the next two days of launching my work to a new audience. I’ve been wanting to do the fair for years, but other things always got in the way. Or maybe I deliberately put them in the way to avoid committing to doing the fair.
I was never sure whether I’d fit into Scotland’s Trade Fair, not being Scottish myself, as well as the fact that, even though influenced by the Scottish coastline, my products aren’t remotely Scottish either. My work doesn’t feature any tartan, thistles or tweed.
I’m a huge believer in fate though – being in the right place at just the right time – and something inside me made me apply this year. I’m so glad I did. My application coincided with the creation of the new Autumn Craft aisle and I was given a stand here and it suited me and my work perfectly.
I’ve been doing trade for a number of years now, but have only ever attended the British Craft Trade Fair in Yorkshire, the show I’ve done every April since 2015. So most of my stockists are down in England.
I had no idea what the Scottish buyers would be like and the first converation I had with a buyer at the show set a very negative tone. It was very dismissive about my Antique Silverware Collection and the buyer mocked my prices and put my work on par with hobbyists at a Christmas Craft Fair.
I’ve heard it all before and this snobbish negative attitude towards my material of choice – the humble teaspoon – has plagued me for years and follows me around and rears its ugly head in the form of imposter syndrome. I’ve talked about this so many times, but each time I come face to face with it, I get better at dealing with it.
So I was able to easily dismiss the negative comments from this buyer and turn his words around so that the fault was not in my work or me, but his attitude to craftsmanship and the quality of unique handcrafted jewellery, like mine, that dictates a high price tag. As he walked away I wondered if he had set the tone for the rest of the show. What do you think?
Here is what my completed stand looked like, with the new flat-packable plywood table, side cabinet and shelves I designed and built myself, based on an idea I’d had in April on my drive down to BCTF in Harrogate. I was so chuffed with the way it turned out.
In hindsight one extra shelf for my Hashtag pins would’ve been better than having them so low on the side cabinet, but that’s a easy thing to change for the next fair.
Even though it’s a small show that only lasts two days, it was incredibly busy, and I got lots of orders – before the show, during the show and since I got home. So although that initial contact with a buyer at the start of the show was negative, it was onwards and upwards from that moment on.
I really enjoyed every minute despite being in immense pain most of the time. The organisers were amazing and provided me with a chair so that I could rest my knee as I’d forgotten to bring my own chair with me. They also pursuaded me to visit the First Aid centre. Here I got my knee bandaged up, which really helped, along with the copious amounts of Nurofen I procured from RSMcColl on the way back to my stand.
I met some really creative people, made some fantastic contacts and I’m really looking forward to starting on my orders next week and sending my work out to Scottish shops and galleries very soon.
I’ve also got the prospect of some really exciting work in the new year, but I can’t reveal anything about that right now and need to keep shtum.
So I’ve decided to get a stand at the January show, but I’ve still to get my application confirmed. I’ve left it quite late to apply and there aren’t very many stands left to choose from, but I’m sure that’ll all get sorted next week and I can ink the dates into my diary.
The first day of the show is the 19th January – that’s my birthday!
Must be a good omen…