It's January which means it's time for a trip to Olympia, London for Top Drawer!
There is so much to see and luckily, I didn't have to go alone this year, my eldest daughter and lovely friend Sarah from Graphicologie both came with me. The highlight of their day was meeting the lovely Keith Brymer Jones!
In case you didn't know, Top Drawer offers retail buyers the opportunity to source an amazing array of design led products for their businesses, whether it be homewares and lighting, giftware, papergoods, toys or fashion. Being a trade show means that it is only open to trade buyers and not the general public, so it always feels a bit special being able to walk around, seeing some fantastic products and upcoming trends before they hit the shops.
One of the things I really wanted to do was attend a couple of the Retailfest talks, something I just don't have time to do when I'm exhibiting.
Fiona Minett, Founder of Boss Your PR
The first was an eye-opening 'Social Media Masterclass' led by Fiona Minett from Boss Your PR along with business coach Laura Payne-Stanley founder of Elevate Labs and Charlotte Verdeyen, a Marks and Spencer Insider and fashion stylist.
Now, I am the first to admit that I've not been great at social media in the past, there are just so many platforms and constantly changing algorithms and technology to navigate, it can all get a bit overwhelming. Where is my audience anyway? How do you know which hashtags to use and how many? When should I post? Plus, I have 3 kids and two school runs, designs to create, manufacturers to deal with, a house to tidy and a constantly grumpy cat to feed...I don't have time!!!! You can see why I was so keen to attend this talk!
Fiona led the panel through a really interesting discussion on some key trends for 2020 and 10 ideas for increasing your social media presence and visibility...I think they knew I was coming!
So here's what I learned...Turns out I have let my feelings of intimidation and my excuses of poor time management get in the way of connecting with my audience...yep...that's you. I guess deep down I wondered if what I had to say was interesting to anyone else, but the reality is, I can only find out by standing up and asking the questions, taking the time to actually be 'social'.
Fiona, Laura and Charlotte reassured me that it's not about being polished, or having all the information in front of you all of the time, things change and actually what I need to do is get better at being organised, get better at creating interesting content and be ok with just being...me! The rest, I hope, will follow.
Next up was the lovely, and very pregnant, Rosie Davies-Smith from PR Dispatch. I met Rosie last September when she was kind enough to stop by my stand and have a chat (ie. pass on pearls of wisdom) about what PR is and if my work would be at all interesting to the press. The answer was a solid 'Yes' (whoop whoop) which, aside from being a great response, meant being able to attend her 'PR Masterclass' this year was all the more important to me.
Rosie is so generous with her knowledge, and her passion for getting small businesses in front of magazine editors is contagious, you can't help but come away feeling inspired and with a 'I can totally do this' attitude. I learnt what magazine editors are looking for, what type of imagery I need to send and when I need to send it, gift guides here I come!
I also got to stop by and see some friends that I made in September who were at Top Drawer exhibiting their beautiful work again this year...
Based in Glasgow, Ellie runs East End Press, a wonderfully colourful design and printing studio. Using traditional methods, Ellie creates beautiful, individually handmade paper garlands and wooden decorations. She also works in collaboration with other skilled crafts people all over the world to bring her playful designs to life.
I also got to catch up a bit with the talented Lucy and Martha from Lucy Loves This. Based in Brixton, Lucy's work follows her passion for all things type! each hand drawn design she creates is beautifully intricate, whether it be a piece from her best-selling alphabet range or her cleverly styled maps.
All in all, my little trip up to London last Sunday turned out to be a very big opportunity to educate myself, gather some inspiration and get my mind focused on the future.
Thanks for reading!