Wednesday, 5 August 2009

'Pure London' - a more glamorous trade (af)fair

Wednesday, 5 August 2009
So, as you know, I run a gift shop in Letchworth, Hertfordshire ( - web site still not quite up and running but should be really soon) - hence the blog title. Part of my job is sourcing new products for said gift shop - something that sounds like a lot of fun, and generally is - except for the fact that there is SOOOOO much out there, and sometimes I get totally overwhelmed with choice and just don't know what to do - I want to stock everything but have only a certain amount of shop floor space and buying budget! Tricky, eh?

One of the most fun and time efficient (not to mention exhausting) ways to do a bit of sourcing is to attend some of the many trade fairs there are on offer. This is a sure fire way to see lots of suppliers in one place. have a good look at their new products, place some orders for the upcoming season and generally do a bit of industry networking. (NETWORKING - yes, I said it! Aaaaargggh!)

Networking is a word that fills me with fear - as a naturally shy person (yes, it is true - I can only write this stuff down because I am faceless on here, you know!), the thought of mixing with a group of strangers, bigging myself up, offering my services in a competitive, disguised as friendly, forum is an absolutely abhorrent thought. However, I am not naive (about everything, anyway) and I know and understand that it is a necessary evil in business. In fact, who am I kidding? It's probably not an evil at all - many people find it very useful and it helps them enormously in business - I'm just not one of them YET. But I'm not ruling it out forever...

Anyway, I digress (so what's new?).

Out of all the trade fairs that I try to attend every year, Pure London - the trade fair for the fashion industry - is the one I find the most intimidating. A trade fair devoted to fashion - full of fashion people - beautiful, trendy, self aware, glamorous, dare I say, verging on superficial *wincing as I type that word, I hate it so much* at times, confident people. A mouse like me quivers at the thought of it!

Of course, I am only a mouse on the inside, not the outside. So, bearing this in mind, I got my hair done, applied the slap, tried to dress in a way that is creative enough for people to believe I belong in this industry yet not so wacky as for them to look at me as if i am sent straight from the outer reaches of a galaxy far, far away, and jumped in my car, heading for Olympia, taking my lovely Lo with me for moral support and another perspective on things! Oh what fun!

Actually, it was!

It might have been the best trade show I have been to since the demise of David's Gifts and the rebirth of Rose and Dylan!

Yes, it was all those things I have mentioned already, but do you know what - that was a complete non issue. That is something that only exists in the paranoid mouse's head, not the confident owner of a successful gift shop's mind!

The fashion on offer was gorgeous and inspiring - exhibitors knew of our shop before we came to them (OMG - can you believe it???) - our confidence in our customers and what we knew they wanted and thus, what we wanted from the fair, was soaring - we took chances on edgier, funkier stock, placed larger orders than we ever done before - found the chutzpah to ask for better deals, more support with displays, marketing materials etc - and generally got an awful lot out of it! It made me feel far less guilty than usual about taking more time off this week to look after the kids, knowing that this day was spent so productively!

Maybe its true what they say - it helps having a pretty girl on your arm! Don't get the wrong idea, but Lo really does look the part - she is incredibly stylish, beautiful - dare I say 'graceful' (without sounding like a bad rerun of a Seinfeld sketch), and her advice was invaluable. I am very grateful to her for accompanying me and helping me so much (all the time actually, not just at trade fairs!)

So look forward to seeing these new additions to our range, in Rose and Dylan over the next few months;

Miyabi - beautiful silver jewellery handcrafted in Thailand

Vendula - cute quirky handbags, purses and wallets

Quintessential - striking scarves and handbags

No Tail / Big Baby - funky jewellery cast in perspex and crystal in bold bright colours

Red Or Dead - handbags to die for - literally...

Ixli - silk slippers fit for a queen

Yakpak - canvas bags and purses in cool, funky prints

Disaster Designs - Design focused handbags with a giftier feel

Irregular Choice - handbags that share the same irrevant humour as the shoe brand that already has a cult following

Oh, and did I forget to mention - we've got NEW Cath Kidston accessories on their way to us VERY VERY soon!

I'm so excited I could just pee...

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Pollyanna (formerly the Laughing Idiot) said...

Sounds like a fun shop! We've got something similar (but different) in Pleasantville. They stock the "out of the ordinary" clothing, baby gear, accessories, decor items that you haven't seen at every mall shop. My most favorite thing I've ever bought at the shop is the Magic Scarf - she sold out everytime an order came in.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower!

Leah Baker said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed Pure! We here (at Pure HQ) try our very best to put on an event that is sophisticated, fun, inspirational, educational but most of all effective for both brands and buyers. You certainly sound like you got everything you could (and should!) out of it. See you in February!

Crystal from KIZZ said...

Too Fun!! Would luv to have my own shop of local artisan work! luved your post and thanx for finding me on twitter! I will come back again!
Crystal from KIZZ

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