Sunday, August 26, 2012

BabyButton - Their first ever trade show with Reed Gift Fair

Welcome to part two in our blog series on First Trade Shows (Australia). Today we have the lovely Janell from BabyButton, who decided to go with Reed Gift Fair rather than Life Instyle. Janell had a rather different experience to our previous blogger, Amor Amor (read their blog here). This is what she had to say...

BabyButton began when my daughter was 6 weeks old and I attended my first mothers group with the Breastfeeding Cover I had made. As they were not common or easily found, I left that meeting with 8 orders for the other mums. I continued to sew breastfeeding covers and selling them through word of mouth and slowly grew my range and business from there. I made the decision a year ago that I was going to take my business from sewing products in my spare bedroom- at nap times, after bubs is in bed or on my 2 allocated work days, to manufacturing offshore. It was a decision that would change my business as well as my goals and possibilities of where I could take my Brand and how it could grow.

What made you choose this particular trade show and not Life/Kids in Style?

To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Kids in Style before I had already committed to doing Reed. I heard about Kids in Style 2 months before the show. By the sounds of it, that was a tradeshow my brand would probably do well at considering my products are all baby/kids and therefore a tradeshow based on that would be ideal. However, I knew I wasn’t able to be in 2 places as once, so attending both unfortunately was not an option.

When did you know you were ready to do your first trade show? Had you been thinking about doing a trade show for a long time before you jumped in?

The idea of doing a tradeshow came about when I knew I wanted to take my business from a home based business and make it into something more. When I began to produce products overseas, I knew the quantities being bought meant I would need to be selling them straight into stores. Without going to every shop individually I did start thinking of the best way to meet numerous stores was through tradeshows. I don’t think I ever really felt ‘ready’ but decided I had to jump feet first in order to move forward with the growth. I think you have to have the idea of how you plan to grow your business and then move to the idea of a tradeshow and how that can benefit your business.

How long did it take you to prepare for it and what sorts of things did you have to do? Had you visited before to get ideas? How did you decide what stock to take? How did you plan how your stand was going to look?

The preparation seemed to take a lot. We set up a mock stall within our lounge to map out where items were going to be displayed, where the furniture would go. We even had products hanging from the curtains to really grasp what they would look like. I wanted to be sure to showcase various products as well as show the different fabric choices available.

I also had to get together all the proper paperwork, eg: brochures, order forms, business cards, post cards, banner, pictures and prices to be hung near products etc. That was a time consuming process. I wanted to be sure we had all bases covered and yet it was simple and easy to buy from us.
The stock we knew we would take was our new range done from overseas. Because it is only 4 different products with 4 different fabrics it made it simple. However, making sure that I had a sample for them to touch, see packaged and on display was quite important to remember.

What markets had you done before to prepare for the show? Mathilda’s, Magnolia Square, The Finders Keepers...... Did you already have many shops stocking your work?

The only market I do now is the Piccadilly Market in Geelong!  I had tried and tested my products as well as the new fabrics there and had a great review of both.

I had a handful of online stockist prior to the show. I was not trying to push to be in too many stores prior to the tradeshow, mainly because I was still making the products myself and I was not prepared to take on the volume that can come with going into stores. Therefore, I chose to wait until my products from overseas were available to really begin to market and join the retail world.

What advice would you give to others thinking about doing a trade show? What would you do differently? What have you learned?

I learnt lots and have a few tips of advise:
*Research all tradeshows! Don’t just go with the first one you come across or someone mentions, as it might not be best for your business.
*Look at the Stats of each tradeshow (they can be provided upon requests generally) to see how much traffic they had through the previous years.
*Attend the tradeshow prior to being a stall holder if possible. That way you are able to see how it is ran, if your products would suit that show, what the atmosphere is like.
*Contact other businesses who have attended the shows and ask their impressions. Ask more than one company as everyone’s experiences can be different.
*When you do book your stand, ask which stalls are still available and see if where you are going to be is in a good section or are you tucked away and no one will see your stall.

If I were to do anything differently I would have simply done more research before committing to anything. The learning experience was great and one I appreciate and accept.

Has the show lived up to your expectations? Have you had many orders come through since the show? What was the highlight for you?

I took a lot from the show and where I need to go with my Brand from here. The show brought exposure and was a great launch platform to bring BabyButton into the Retail world.

We have had a great response to the products and follow through orders and shops coming on board. It was a great show to launch BabyButton Range at and am excited for the shops I am working with! A highlight was the first large order of the products- signifying I had made the right decision and I was no longer a hobby business.

What next? Will you think about another trade show? A different one?

Next up we have various Expos to attend to bring further brand awareness. I will also be going straight into shops and speaking to them directly. I know the types of stores that seem interested and will be dreaming big to be within the larger stores soon too.

I will probably not do another Reed Gift Fair unless my products start to grow towards that way. However, I will look into other Tradeshows and am looking at perhaps attending the Kids Instyle in Sydney.

Thanks so much Janell, we wish you all the best with your future plans.

Next up we have the lovely Hollie from ZZ Totz and the gorgeous Fi from Fi Fy Fo Fum designs. Very exciting stuff!

Finally, don't forget the BIG Cheeky Pickle Facebook sale next Sunday, 2nd September, 8pm (EST time)

Ali xx

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