My First floral designs show at MODA Exhibitions.
Last week was my very first exhibition and I would say it was a bit of a milestone, simply because of how much I learnt and the lovely people I met.
It was months in the planning, phone call after phone call to arrange my stand and to get my wall paper printed, and I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I was going to fill my space. I had to get all the right paperwork in place such as price lists, policies, and order forms and I felt very much in the dark about it all but carried on hoping I was doing the right thing.
I had arranged for my mum to look after Isla so Adam and I could set up the stand on the Saturday and although I anticipated it to be a few hours, I spent all day at the NEC. Luckily my first show just so happened to be five minutes’ drive from home so any last minute things that came to mind were easy to get.
Adam had a surprisingly-creative input in the display, coming up with ideas like using props and ornaments from home to bring my stand to life a little more and, it was nice having someone there in times of panic to help me think straight. There was a lot of back and forth but I finally finished setting-up at around 8 PM, and made it home just in time for Isla’s bed time.
We left that day looking at everyone else’s stands on our way out and I noticed my stand was very different. Everyone else’s looked more like a shop, market stall etc with lots and lots of items and products on rails and mine was the only one that looked like a curated creative space. I thought this was the only thing that made me stand out but it made me think that maybe it wasn’t the right audience for me. Only time would tell.
Day one; We arrived at 8.30 AM giving ourselves an hour to get into the zone. I felt reassured because Adam was with me as initially, my nerves really kicked in. I feared that I would be lost for words or would say the wrong thing but the show opened and within ten minutes, I had my first viewers. I’ll never forget the reaction of my first views “How gorgeous are those scarves!” They were really impressed and had nothing but nice words to say – I gave them a price list and off they went. It was a really nice little boost.
The stand next to me was a jewellery stand and it was huge and had the loveliest, most-unique jewellery. I got talking to the man who ran it and little did I know that it would be the beginning of three days of very interesting conversations. His name was Paul, and he was helping his partner Maggie represent the Treaty stand. Paul was a top interior designer (who had done some work in Princess Dianna’s home) and Maggie ran the Treaty business with beautiful unique jewellery. It was their last show as they had been doing it for over ten years and Maggie was handing her business over to her son and, they had just bought a yacht to travel the world. The advice that they gave me was invaluable and with Maggie’s experience in business and Paul’s experience in design, whatever they had to say was gold dust.
The main message I got from them was KEEP GOING, AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR PRODUCT. I have read this a lot and heard this from others but for some reason, it really sunk in when they said it and, partly because they could see potential in my work and in me. There was an irony in that they were at the end of their creative business and I was just starting mine and the little tips and tricks they disclosed were definitely noted.
I had quite a few people stop at my stand and listening to their reactions was just lovely and, it really helped to build my confidence more and more throughout the show. There was a speed dating event at the show where you get five minutes to pitch to a buyer and to talk about your product and although this was initially very daunting, I soon got comfortable in my own skin and did a few sessions where I spoke about my product with passion and enthusiasm where pushing myself out of necessity grew my confidence.
We also got chatting to our other neighbours; Inyati is a vegan bag and shoe company established by Tara who was a designer for Asos before starting Inyati. She designed all of her products and also gave me plenty of great advice and contacts. She was trendy and full of buzzing energy about her products which I loved and Paul (her business partner) was also very experienced in business and gave some very useful advice.
First sale; A man came and stood right in front of my stand – hands on hips, and very serious looking. He stood for ages staring at my mannequin, then a lovely lady came from behind him and said “these are just exquisite!” and I could tell that she was excited. The way she was handing the scarves, assessing the weight and drape; “It’s the first time I’ve been excited about scarves.” she said. “I’ll take two of these, and these, and these, and these.” Adam and I were flapping and you could tell that we were excited and, Adam helped with all the order forms while I handled the sales. They were serious customers – they paid the next day and I got the order out to them the following week and, it was a real high!
Many exhibitors and buyers who came to me mentioned that I needed to be doing shows like Scoop and Pure London, which specialises in high-end customers and on Tuesday [the final day], everyone was winding-down and getting ready to pack up. It was quiet, and it usually is but we made the most of our time debriefing, chatting to our neighbours, and discussing future plans. By 3.50 PM and when everyone started to pack up, it was a strange feeling because we had been accustomed to seeing the same faces and stands for four days straight but, it felt like a milestone and a huge turning point in my career as an artist and designer. It was also a break for Adam – away from his admin and GP work and I’m so glad that he was with me throughout it all and that I had somebody special to share my thoughts and experiences with.