Showcase Ireland is Ireland's Creative Expo, a place where the best of Irish creativity gather to showcase their wares to the trade. This January Hairy Fruit Art headed off to the RDS Dublin with enthusiasm and gusto! Here's my story...
Overall it was much easier preparing for the show this year because I had done it once before and this saved me a lot of time. In the run up, every spare moment was taken up designing my leaflets and putting together paperwork, creating stand mockups on the computer, making up shelves for my greetings cards, and so on. I was really looking forward to meeting existing and new buyers, fellow designers, along with the many other fantastic people you tend to meet at such an event.
Last year's Showcase was my first ever experience at a trade fair and it went without a hitch. Ahem, I have to admit, this year there were a lot more heart attacks along the way. But what is a story without a little conflict?!
The first heart attack came about because I nearly didn't get into Showcase (a long story but suffice it to say I got there at the last minute). In fact, so relieved was I to get a last minute cancellation that one or two 'wee' things got overlooked by me, principally not properly checking out my stand in advance.
When I arrived to set up my stand I noticed I had two (not three) walls which brings me to Heart Attack No.2. However, since I brought my kitchen dresser and luckily only needed to hang things from two walls it actually worked out fine, even to my advantage, because people walking past could see right through into my stand. Also my stand was right beside the restaurant entrance so many people got to see it passing to and fro.
Heart Attack No.3 was when I realised I had a 'soft shell' not a 'hard shell' stand which basically means you cannot screw anything into the walls. I was in a position to organise some panels to be added at a cost of €60 +VAT a pop x 4 which was going to add a whole lot of extra expense. This is where the hubbie comes in.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, my husband is a wizard with a screwdriver and pretty much every tool in the box. I knew he was my No.1 best chance of putting this stand together right. After many headaches he was able to pull the rabbit out of the hat and hang my prints perfectly which was a true miracle. He made up a wooden structure allowing my prints to hang. I had no fingernails left but my stand looked great! Let's just say lessons were learnt!!
stand and deliver
I was very pleased with the standard of buyers who visited my stand this year, and the orders and the feedback I received about my designs both during and after the show. There was a noticeable increase of interest in my greetings cards this year which is a collection I intend to develop and expand over the coming year. A few buyers also gave me great suggestions of designs I should add to my collection, valuable tips about things they know there is a demand for. Where else would you get such wonderful advice from the horse's mouth?
If you are a designer contemplating taking the first step into a trade fair it's a big consideration. You have a choice of either jumping into the car with lots of samples and travel the country selling your wares which is great if you have the time, or you can set up a stand in Showcase and have people come and visit you there. You will never meet these people anywhere else and all in one place, or get the real feedback you need from the people that count. That is what I love about Showcase.
everybody needs good neighbours
A blog post about Showcase must include something about your neighbours. It is the people at your neighbouring stands that enhance your experience and keep you going when the feet are aching and the clock is ticking backwards! This year I had the privilege of meeting some very experienced exhibitors who passed on lots of advice and stories which were invaluable. They were also fantastic company. Photos: John O'Brien Irish Turf/Peat Incense Co. from Nenagh Co. Tipperary selling little Irish cottages that burn turf inside bringing the smell of turf into your home and out the little chimney (brilliant!); Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves, Ireland's premier jam/preserve maker from Thurles in Co. Tipperary, basically Ireland's very own Mrs Beeton; the lovely and talented Amy Sherwin of Popzle based in my hometown of Greystones, designer of the most superb 3D interactive activity cards; last but not least is me at my stand looking sheepish baa!
My thanks to The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, Local Enterprise Wicklow, and everyone who visited my stand at Showcase Ireland 2017. Here's to a creative and busy year ahead!