Exhibiting at the British Craft Trade Fair
What an exiting week!
The best experience was meeting other people, just starting out like me. Starting a business can be a daunting prospect, and with constant decisions to make about things you have never done before, it can sometimes feel like walking blindfolded. I suddenly realised how much I’d been just getting on with my work without realising how internal it can be! Meeting these lovely people and appreciating there are other people out there in the same boat was uplifting and reassuring. We could laugh about stuff that had been stressful or about how crazy our life had become, and share ideas and advice.
Another advantage to showing at the British Craft Trade Show, was how much I learnt about trade and business. We attended a really informative seminar given by Henri Davis on how buyers decide which products to buy for their companies and Emma Richards who spoke on intellectual protection for your work. One reason I have chosen not to have a gallery of my work on facebook, is because once an image is uploaded to facebook, facebook legally own that image. This might not prove such a problem for some companies and be a good promotional activity, however for someone like myself whose work is based on their creative abilities to produce an image, it can start to challenge your intellectual property. Many exhibitors at the British Craft Trade Fair were concerned about this.
For me, talking to buyers about my work, and finding out about how they worked, and their businesses, was really important. I am not the most confident person, and now I feel invincible! (well, nearly). At the start of the show I was so nervous I felt lightheaded; however by the end I was calmly enjoying every minute of it. If you feel at all intimidated by business terms such as margin or turn-around time, then I’d say just go for it, and the more you talk to buyers the more you’ll realise buyers are just people too, and it will become a lot less scary.
When I first enquired about the British Craft Trade Fair, I had assumed that I was too late for this year. However due to somebody dropping out, I found myself with a place and a stand to get ready in just about two weeks. This was a good challenge for me, however on reflection, I feel I will be a lot more prepared next time. I’ve learnt that good old bluetac holds better than double-sided Velcro, double-sided Sellotape and even sticky dots. An exhibition stand of just one metre by two metres looks small but there are many ingenious ways of filling it!
If you are thinking of doing a trade fair or exhibition in the future, there would be no harm at all in first of all, just visiting the fair, doing research and asking lots of questions. The new exhibition hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground was perfect for housing all of our different stalls, and if I’d been a visitor, I could have easily spent the entire three days looking around. I tried to visit all the other exhibitors’ stalls, however there was so much to take in and not enough time! Everybody had made so much effort to present their work well, and I am still going through all the ideas I have collected for future events and how to produce promotional material.
On reflection, I was attracted to the stands where the work simply speaks for itself, with perhaps a touch of individuality. Small touches, such as showing how to use your products or displaying them alongside relevant objects can help set the scene, put the viewer in the right frame of mind, or help frame your work in your own individual style, which could in turn set you apart from others and help the buyers notice or remember you, when they think about what to order afterwards.