Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Campervans for the Cushion Competion

A while ago a very nice lady called Suzie contacted me from a company called Terry's Fabrics and asked if I would be interested in getting creative with some of their fabrics, in return for blogging about it... Would I?!? Erm, Hell Yeah!!

This is the range that she sent me:

LOADS of choice (in fact it was hard to restrict myself to less than 25!)

The 4 I chose in the end (it could have been smaller pieces of 8 fabrics, but I had a couple of projects in mind so I went for larger pieces of these materials:

And of course the one I HAD to have.... the Campervan material!

I then discovered that there was a bloggers competition running to make an 18" x 18" cushion cover, using Terry's Fabrics and the winner will win £250 worth of vouchers to spend on the Terry's Website!

So, in super quick time I have put together my entry - inspired by the Blur pop art album cover, with the different quarters being different colours, I give you the Family Campervans:

felt personalised VW Campervans
Each Campervan is personalised with the family member's name

Being shown off on my living room sofa

felt vw campervan images with personalised number plates
A collage of the close up shots of each Campervan

The fab campervan material on the back in an envelope style

Side view showing off my neat sewing!!

I really enjoyed coming up with the design and suspect that this will probably be quite a popular item, so keep your eyes peeled for it in the shop soon!

I will be keeping my eyes firmly fixed on the Terry's Blog to see the other competition entrants and more excitingly, who wins all those lovely vouchers :-)

Edited to add: I'm cheating a bit today - I'm going to add this to the Handmade Monday post as I've been so busy this weekend and not had a chance to get on the laptop till just now (6pm on Sunday evening!!)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

5 Tips to a Successful Trade Show

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have recently exhibited at my first Trade Show, the Harrogate Home & Gift Trade Show 2013 and wowee, have I learned a lot!

I felt the show went really well, especially given it was my first one and I had no real idea what to expect - the people I met were lovely (both fellow exhibitors and the buyers) and the exciting ideas I have come away with are enough to make my head burst!! If you can afford the outlay (it's not just the price of the stand, but also kitting it out, travelling expenses, accommodation and food whilst you're there) then the contacts you make and the leads it generates definitely make a Trade Show worthwhile doing.

I'm going to share the 5 most important things I've discovered this week on my emotional roller coaster ride!

1. Plan out your stand - do a mock layout and take pictures. Come back to it an hour later. How does it strike you as you walk up to it? Would you stop and have a look? Are your items getting lost? Or do they jump out at you? Think about the items you want to be seen most, or that will draw the buyer in for a closer look. Make sure they are placed at eye height with any lighting you are using focused on them.

2. Prepare for the questions you'll be asked - think about what a buyer would want to know and have your answers ready and written down on a sheet of paper that you can easily refer to. You may know all the answers backwards, but if for any reason you get thrown off track (imagine a buyer from John Lewis stops to talk to you!) it's essential to have the facts at your finger tips! So all you need to have all your retail prices and the trade prices you are offering. What volumes of orders can you cope with? If like me you hand make all your pieces and someone (that pesky buyer from John Lewis again!) asks if you could handle an order for 1,000 of a certain item, what would you do? How long would it take you to fulfill? Do you have backup in place for that situation? Do you have a minimum purchase amount? Do you offer free carriage? Do you drop ship? (terms explained in a minute) What are your terms?

3. Expect the unexpected - our exhibition hall was air conditioned, so although the temperatures were soaring last week, I didn't expect to have any problems with overheating - however the air conditioning packed up!!! We spent two days completely boiling, which made it very difficult to concentrate and as a result the pepped up start to our 4 days of exhibiting fell rather flat in the middle. It also meant that our buyers didn't stay very long and weren't all as enthusiastic as we'd have liked! We were being given bottles of water by the exhibition organisers on a regular basis, which was a relief as if you're manning a stand on your own, you can't keep nipping off to the cafe to buy water!

4. Making friends with your fellow exhibitors - as I just mentioned, if you're exhibiting by yourself on your stand, you need to make friends with your fellow exhibitors... not only will they help keep you sane over the course of the exhibition, but you can also then take turns at keeping an eye on each other's stands while you take loo breaks, lunch breaks, fresh air breaks, etc. I had some wonderful neighbours, specifically the most gorgeous couple ever, Jayne & Ged from Jola Designs who make beautifully clever cushions & canvases and Denise from Denise Moloney Ceramics who designs amazing plates, mugs & tea pots. We had a fantastic time - getting to know people under circumstances like this make for very intense friendships which I hope will last a long time!

5. The most important - GOOD SHOES! You are going to be standing up (something most of us are not at all used to) for up to 9 hours a day... I happened to bring with me 4 different pairs of shoes and I was VERY glad for it - a seasoned exhibitor recommended 2 different pairs of shoes per day. One lady did resort to wearing her slippers on the last day because she'd worn inappropriate shoes previously!

I mentioned different terms above... I thought I was fairly au fait with the terms I would encounter at a trade show, but there were some I'd not come across before, so I'll give you a brief summary of the most common terms used this week:

Minimum Amount - you can decide if you will place a minimum value on wholesale orders, so each order has to exceed a certain amount to qualify for wholesale prices

Free Carriage - Will you offer free shipping? Or does the buyer have to pay 'Carriage'

Drop Ship - where the manufacturer ships direct to a customer when an order is placed - this is particularly requested by online shops, so they do not have to hold large amounts of stock. It's also popular where the items require an element of personalisation (like the majority of my items) so this can be done once the order is placed.

Pro-forma - this is when the exhibitor sends the buyer a detailed breakdown of the items purchased and the prices, along with the terms (i.e. payment must be made within 30 days, payment must be made before items dispatched, etc) and the sellers bank details, which then allows for the buyer to make an online payment for the goods.

I hope all of that has been useful - I learned so much this week that I could just go on for hours (but I won't bore you all any further!) instead I'll just leave you with some pictures of my stand and now I'm off for a mooch around the other Handmade Monday posts with a cuppa and some cake!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Christmas In July!

Well, it's turned nice & hot this weekend, so we've been out in the garden or in the local pub gardens almost all the time.

The kids have had a great time playing and hubby & I have had a lovely
time relaxing with friends!

But now we're back to Monday and no more sunbathing for me, as I have just re-opened my Etsy shop after my "holiday" month (i.e. time to panic about the Home & Gift Fair in less than 2 weeks - EEEEEK!)

And very excitingly I'm taking part in the Etsy-wide "Christmas in July" promotion, which is an American tradition, whereby shops offer a discount on Christmas goods halfway through the year for organised shoppers to get a head start!

Here's what Wikipedia says about it:

In some western countries, July has a minor number of marketing opportunities. In the United States and Canada, there are no national holidays between the first week of July (Canada Day on July 1 in Canada and the Fourth of July in the United States) and Labo(u)r Day (the first Monday in September for both the US and Canada), leaving two months with no holidays. (Some Canadian provinces hold a civic holiday in August, but this is not a national holiday.) The late July period provides relatively few opportunities for merchandising, since it is typically after the peak of summer product sales in June and early July, but before the back to school shopping period begins in August. Therefore, to justify sales, shops (such as Leon's in Canada) will sometimes announce a Christmas in July sale.

As a lot of my funny goodies could be bought as Christmas presents, I thought I would offer a store-wide promotion, not just the Christmassy items, although they are all in the shop now too:

So you just need to use the code CIJUK10 at checkout to get 10% off all orders over £10 for the whole month!

Now I'm off with a cuppa for a slightly belated hop round Handmade Monday :-)

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