Well I've done it! All those months wondering if I will ever do a trade show, worrying over the costs and whether or not my product is good enough and I finally did it!
So what was it like?
The lead up to the trade show was highly stressful, like with most things that you have never done before, it's the fear of the unknown. How will people order?, what stock should I take?, how will I display it?, are my prices in line with others.....etc. Worry, worry, worry. Well, looking back, like with most things in life, it's never as daunting as you thought it would be.
I must admit that when I arrived the day before to set up, I did feel very intimidated. Life Instyle is pretty amazing and there are some unbelievably well designed products out there. I left wondering what the hell I'd let myself in for and that my product just did not belong there.
On the first day I realised that all the other First Instyle exhibitors were also feeling pretty apprehensive and they too had been nervous wrecks for the months leading up to the event. We were all pretty exhausted, stressed and nervous. We had all spent a LOT of money and had put our lives pretty much on hold for months, working extremely hard, getting ready for the show. Both emotions and expectations were extremely high and I think at the end of that first day a few tears were shed and a feeling of "am I doing the right thing, wouldn't life just be easier if I gave up this business thing" was running through a few peoples minds. The first day was pretty quiet and I think we did all expect a lot more.
With the second day came more traffic, more sales and interest, which was a fantastic boost for morale. Suddenly there were smiles and laughter. I think by this time we had all relaxed a bit, had brought our expectations down a little and were making the most of the experience. As well as orders, being there was a fabulous place to gain lot's of invaluable information from other designers. That night we all went to the pub and just laughed and laughed. It was a real energy release and I think it was very much needed.
The last two days were hard work, we were all super tired and ready to go home. More orders were coming through, contacts, ideas and leads were being discussed and I think a lot of designers who were new to trade shows were waking up to new ideas and seeing lights switching on as to which way their businesses were heading. It's a great place to test the market with your product, but it's also the place to realise what isn't working and to either tweak what you have or go down a completely different path. For some trade shows were just not where they should be, whereas others were already planning their next idea and their next trade show. It was wonderful to see these designers buzzing with their plans to move their businesses forward.
For me personally, it was a great achievement, something I thought I'd never do. And yes I did belong there and I yes I did belong with those people. I have a better idea who my customer is now and that helps me to move forward. I have plans now and I do think that if I hadn't done the show I would still be doing the same thing a year from now. I won't fully know how successful I have been until I follow up all of the contacts I have made, but I feel very positive about the future for Cheeky Pickle. I have a clear path I can see now. It's a bit scary as my dreams are now that bit bigger than they once were, but they are in my head and once they are there, well, they will most definitely become a reality!!
A huge thank you to the many new and gorgeous friends I made whilst I was there (Please head on over and have a nosey at their amazing work), including:
Hearsay - Jewellery
Unearth - Homewares
Beau Est Mien - Art and stationery
Cherish by Elevi - Jewellery
Form and Fable - wood and ceramics
Ella Leach Designs - Stationery
Hannmaid - Fashion
Mooku - Jewellery