I've just returned from my first year exhibiting as part of the Country Living Christmas Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington.
This year I have taken part in BCTF, The Royal Norfolk Show and The Handmade Fair but this is the definitely the biggest consumer show I've been a part of.
I had been printing like mad for weeks in advance, you really never know how much stock you’re going to need so it's best to over-prepare! My shoulder is absolutely aching from repeated screen printing (this is also probably down to poor technique).
Being part of a big fair like this can be quite a financial risk, so I was pretty nervous in the build up. Being associated with County Living was a big help, the magazine had already featured my Feather & Egg Shopper and Allotment Napkins, so that was a really big boost.
My experience at previous shows had taught me that planning out your stall set-up is essential; arriving without a plan can be a real nightmare. It’s a pretty tricky process; you want to show off all of the different products that you make without confusing the customer and making your stall into a jumble sale.
Before leaving I planned and built a replica of my stall, with a lot of help from my parents. In fact my Mum and Dad were amazing, from sketching out a plan to cutting wood and painting shelves.
It was a two day set up, the first involved drilling and painting and making sure shelves aren’t wonky. The second day was all about displaying products.
On the morning of the opening day I was busy wrestling with one of my lampshades when a nice lady began admiring our stall, I assumed she was another exhibitor. I later realised that she was actually Susy Smith, the editor of Country Living Magazine. An hour or so later Susy returned with a bottle of Champagne and informed me that I’d won her Editor’s Choice Award.
I had been really nervous about doing such a large fair, so this was a real boost to my confidence and took away the pressure of doing such a big show. A massive thank you to Susy and the team at Country Living Magazine for choosing my work.
The actual show lasts five days and is extremely tiring, especially when you’re used to sleepy Norwich.
I had an amazing time meeting up with some brilliant designers and makers, pick up some useful advice and of course sell my work!
I'll be adding new Christmas Products to my online shop this week so keep an eye out.