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!
This Sunday the 22nd January look out for Stand #A210 in Shelbourne Hall in the RDS. It's going to be *all *systems *GO for Hairy Fruit Art participating at this year's Showcase Ireland.
I am no longer a newbie since this is Hairy Fruit Art's second year attending this superb trade fair... and I'm SO excited!
All the paperwork and leaflets are ready to go which include my NEW Irish Seasons notepad collection.
My experience of Showcase last year was splendid and I feel honoured to be taking part once more. This year I have again received the much appreciated support from Local Enterprise Wicklow, and instead of the upstairs Enterprise Zone I'll be
downstairs in the 'Home and Gift'.
I look forward to meeting lots of buyers again along with many other interesting and talented people (of which you meet plenty of at this event) ...I really just can't wait to experience the Showcase buzz all over again!
Activities this week include finalising paperwork and tweaking things on my stand mock-ups on the computer, plus I have set aside a room in the house much to the chagrin of my family, gathering all my products and everything else I will need for the set-up this weekend. My hubbie will be helping me with the set up just like he did last year, he did such a brilliant job before with the set up that I'm feeling very positive.
After Showcase 2016 I did a blog post 'Showcase Ireland a Newbie's Experience" which grabbed a lot of attention online. So in February I promise to do a blog post about this year's experience, it will be interesting to see what I can add to it.
For those attending, you will find Hairy Fruit Art in the lovely Shelbourne Hall where I sat many exams for UCD in my past life! STAND A210 is situated on the very back of the Hall on the right hand side (see RED star on the map below).
I love stationery and can't stop myself buying notepads and cards, I've got loads! This leads me into my November blog officially introducing my new notepad collection and what has inspired me.
I set this design project for myself in October. I wanted to design notepads that would be really useful for managing important tasks and everyday note-taking, at the same time helping to cheer up your day by looking gorgeous on your desk or workspace... not forgetting a very sweet gift for people of all ages. The collection would be pretty, botanical and very definitely tied together with an Irish theme. So what theme would that be?
O U T T H E W I N D O W W I T H I N S P I R A T I O N
With paint brush in hand I looked out the window at the beautiful Autumn day not knowing where to start. I thought about the unpredictability of the Irish weather and how so very often we experience the four seasons in one day and then I realised I had my notepad theme, the Irish Four Seasons would be just perfect! Now it was just a matter of doing what I love best, designing pretty botanicals and completing my collection.
I'm really delighted with the way they turned out and I hope you are too :-)
I R I S H S U M M E R C O T T A G E
I R I S H A U T U M N B O T A N I C A L S
I R I S H W I N T E R F R O S T
I R I S H S P R I N G B L O O M I N G
Note: The Irish Spring Blooming notepad is arriving in stock on 25th November to complete the collection
I live on the lovely Blackberry Lane in Delgany, Co. Wicklow and this is a perfect time of year to go foraging on my doorstep for much needed design inspiration. There is so much colour in the ditches right now with lots of berries which the birds haven't eaten yet. There are also plenty of delicious blackberries for the picking.
Apart from the odd prick from a thorn or two, I took great pleasure this week gathering up a few lovely bits and pieces like holly, hawthorn, rosehips, thistles, ivy and more. Then I got out the gouache paints and started painting.
Adding a bit of life to the blackberries...the best part!
After I completed my painting I scanned my work and exported it onto the computer and worked away in Adobe creating sweet autumnal patterns with a personal touch. A nice little design project to start this lovely season and the possibilities are endless :-)
My new funkaaay! map of Ireland design, Céad Míle Maps, launched this month with a new range of kitchen textiles. Introduced at Showcase Ireland in January, it actually took a lot more time than I expected to realise the final product with 'shop ready' packaging, colour accuracy and dye fastness etc etc. A total learning curve for me.
The name Céad Míle Maps (which most of us know means 100,000 maps as gaeilge), was chosen because I reckon it was the only possible name that a repeat pattern of the map of Ireland could be called for so many wonderful reasons.
The colour scheme of the design is based on the traditional colours of the tricolour i.e. green, white and orange, with an added touch of contemporary hues and some brown, which symbolises Ireland's turf and boglands. Each map incorporates a floral design 'hairy fruit style' to add prettiness and interest to the overall pattern.
The design was created especially for those who want to bring a little Ireland home, in this case lots of little Irelands. For those who love, miss or wish to remember Ireland every day Hairy Fruit Art now provides tea towels, tea cosies, oven gloves, aprons and napkin sets for those special Irish gifts that we all search for to send to our Irish loved ones abroad at Christmas and other occasions.
An Irish Brainstorm..the Inspiration
Well over a year ago I took a large look at my Hairy Fruit Art product range and saw a big gap. For an Irish design brand I realised I had few products or designs specifically for the Irish gift market. This realisation got my creative juices flowing. A cute Irish themed pattern on kitchen textiles or other products would work, but where to start?
Since it was my first time investing in a kitchen textile collection I had to be careful not to overstretch myself. I was only in a position to use just one design so it had to be well thought out. I worked on various ideas, some obvious like shamrocks etc., and some not so obvious, and then there was the idea of a map pattern? Mmmmm.
There are lots of great map of Ireland products out there and all very popular but there didn't appear to be a map of Ireland repeat pattern on textiles. Was there a good reason that no-one had done it yet and therefore should I avoid? Was it something that I could effectively do while keeping loyal to my Hairy Fruit style and brand? A lot of procrastination went on I can assure you, it was difficult to judge what would finally work. And this leads nicely to my next bit..
The final judgement
Enter my wonderful Dad to whom the collection is dedicated to. Sadly this summer he passed away at 93 years of age and he is more than greatly missed.
Dad was such an interesting man to have as a father. A man of wit, wisdom and a lover of learning and books. But the most relevant thing to mention in this case was his great love of maps of which he had many.
A year or so ago I showed him my designs including Céad Míle Maps and he immediately loved it and encouraged me to go with it. Being a retired Judge who didn't make decisions lightly, also a man with a wide appreciation for the arts (and maps!), that little chat we had was the 'clincher' decision-making moment.
So here's to Dad, 100,000 maps, and a Céad Míle failte to a new set of (hopefully iconic) kitchen textiles for many happy homes and kitchens in the future.