Bossing Wholesale Workshop with Studio Cotton

I am hosting another small business workshop in everything wholesale once again. This time co-hosted by Studio Cotton in their gorgeous new studio on Corn Street in Bristol!

The workshop will be aimed at informing small business owners, freelance creatives, makers and sellers on my experience in wholesale. This 2-hour session is perfect for anyone hoping to get started in selling wholesale and makers who want tips to improve preparation for their next trade event.

Tickets and more info here.

TOP DRAWER TOP TIPS

Yesterday I hosted an informal advice session about my experience of exhibiting at the Top Drawer A/W 2017 trade show for the first time last September. I learnt an awful lot from it and a lot of people have asked me to hear about it since… So I put out an open invitation to ask me all of your questions within a small group meet up and people actually came!

I love to share what I’ve learnt and it was incredible to receive such a lovely response from those who came. It has made me seriously consider hosting more events like that and whether I could even give my advice as a sideline to Sky Siouki.

Anyway, I thought it may be useful for the people who attended yesterday and for anyone who unfortunately couldn’t make it to summarise my key tips here on the blog. There were some things I didn’t get to say yesterday (a grumpy waiter kicked us out well before the advertised closing time) and some that may not have been heard by all.

Top Drawer Spotted Footer

 

1. HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY

I applied for the Spotted section of Top Drawer which is especially for first time trade show exhibitors and benefits from a 30% discount. The application process was pretty easy via an online form and I got offered a spot the next morning! I applied at the beginning of February and was able to have a fairly broad choice of stand position so I think it was a good time to apply. Trade show spots are allocated on much more of a first come first served basis in comparison with markets so it’s worth getting in early. The Spotted section is popular with buyers because they all want something fresh and new for their shops and so it’s a whole section of brands they’re guaranteed not to have seen before. It’s well positioned right next to the VIP Lounge and the Craft section too.

2. SEPTEMBER (A/W) VS. JANUARY (S/S)

I’m sorry I don’t have a definitive answer for this one as I’ve only done September but we discussed it yesterday. At the show a lot of other exhibitors told me they usually find the January edition the busier of the two shows. From what I can gather, larger retailers will be doing their Christmas buying in January and plan much further in advance. All of my orders came from small independent shops and galleries who were mostly stocking up for Christmas so it could be worth considering what type of retailers you want to attract.

Top Drawer Wild Woodland Trend Board

3. DISPLAY EVERYTHING CLEARLY

I kept my stand layout fairly simple. You are allowed to paint the walls, add wallpaper and screw into them so I put up shelving and a rail to show most of my products. However even then, I found that in practice it still could perhaps have been clearer. Buyers often wanted to look at every design of every product all at once and I had stacked my prints in a wooden box for browsing through as I do at markets. A lot buyers ended up lining them all up on the floor in order to make their choices which wasn’t a problem but it would of course have been better for them to be able to immediately see everything together and just point out which designs they wanted.

Sky Siouki Stand Top Drawer A:W17

4.  KNOW YOUR PRICES

Buyers will ask you the wholesale price of everything on your stand and knowing them through and through rather than relying on skimming through sheets of paper makes it much easier for both of you. I in fact found myself blagging my way somewhat with my pricing. My listed RRPs were set as a 2x mark-up of my wholesale prices. I quickly learnt from interested shop owners that a mark-up more towards 2.5x was necessary in order to accommodate for the VAT most retailers are required to pay. In the end I verbally explained my new understanding of this to each buyer who showed interest and promised to amend my pricing accordingly. Knowing my costs well allowed me to make those promises on the spot so I was glad I’d done some memorising first.

5. PUT IMAGES ON YOUR ORDER FORMS

When a buyer decided to make an order it felt like a real whirlwind. Suddenly all of my products had been moved around and I would be rushing for my clipboard to take notes of what they were asking for. It made such a difference when a buyer would point at items listing quantities of each to be able to quickly find the matching item on my form by recognise the image rather than reading for the names. We’re all human and they were of course happy to repeat, but it’s a huge show and you can understand every buyer has an awful lot of stands to go to so time was somewhat of the essence.

Top Drawer Olympia

 

6. KEEP IN CONTACT

Being my first ever trade show, I didn’t know what to expect and was overwhelmed by how many orders I received during the show. I didn’t have any stock prepared before hand and in future I will certainly stockpile a certain amount pre-show in order to shorten dispatch times. I don’t want to say I’d recommend doing that to everyone first time, as everyone’s experience will vary depending on their product. The key thing I learnt from it though was to keep every buyer well informed of the progress of their order and reassure them that it would be on it’s way soon.

 

I’m going to leave it there because I reckon I could go on and on and on listing more tips otherwise. Those were some of the main things I was asked yesterday and learnt though. Plus there are certain things I feel more comfortable sharing personally in a small group rather than publishing publicly on the worldwide web.

Hopefully there will be more advice sessions to come as there certainly seems to be a high level of interest for them. I’m by no means an expert but I enjoy doing what I can to help and encourage other business owners and am very happy to be honest and open about these things.

Please do leave a comment below to let me know if you’d be interested in more advice sessions and on what other topics.

Sky x

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Bristol Girl Bosses!

If you follow my Instagram you may have caught on that I have recently become part of a little collective of Bristol based girls in the designer-maker business called Bristol Girl Bosses. I wanted to post about our group here just to help spread the word really and promote my fellow group members’ work as they all produce such lovely things that you may well be interested in.

 

Since we started an Instagram account we’ve been astonished by the support people have shown and number of posts with our hashtag #BristolGirlBosses that have begun popping up. The group is really just about community and support for us. Being an independent one woman brand can be really challenging on a pretty regular basis so having a group of like-minded ladies to talk to and seek advice from means an incredible amount to us all. I’m so so happy to be a part of our little community. We have been trying to meet up about once a month for food, skill-swapping and idea sharing although it’s often tricky getting all eight members together at once when we’re all so busy!

 

Bristol Girl Bosses June Meet Up

 

WE ARE (in alphabetical order):

Corinne Evans Jewellery – Corinne makes stunning handcrafted silver and copper jewellery inspired by nature.

Fiona Clabon Illustration – Pictured below scurrying away at some collaging! Fiona creates colourful collage illustrations and sells prints, coasters and cards.

Jessica Baldry Designs – Jess is a surface pattern designer and papercut artist. Her glass framed floral paper-cuts are my fave!

Skirt All Week – Swedish seamstress and dress-maker extraordinaire. I’m forever amazed by Sabina’s gorgeous self-made outfits each time I see her!

Sky Siouki – That’s me. Hopefully if you’re here you’ll already know I create wildlife inspired artwork and sell a variety of printed gifts and homewares.

Stephanie Male Illustration – Steph creates a variety of printed and handmade products often with a macabre edge about them.

Warmlii – Bee makes traditional Swiss cherry stone pillows handmade with organic cotton.

Yay Rae Flay – Rae creates quirky illustrations and laser-cut jewellery featuring fun things like jammy dodgers and avocado on toast! She’s waving below.

 

Bristol Girl Bosses_Yay Rae Flay at Springfest

Bristol Girl Bosses_Fiona Clabon at Springfest

So that’s us. Six of the eight of us held stalls at Bristol’s SPRINGFEST last weekend so you may well have met a few of us there. The two pictures above of Rae and Fiona are from our day there. We’re all big fans of the Made In Bristol events so hopefully lots of us, if not maybe even all of us will be selling at the Colston Hall Made In Bristol Gift Fairs too!

 

Following the amazing response we’ve had on Instagram we’re really keen to try to accommodate for others to foster their own collectives. It’s been so beneficial to us that we’d love for others to have the same support within their own independent groups. We hope to eventually arrange some kind of networking or skill-swapping event that may facilitate this for other Bristol ladies in business.

We are also doing Feature Friday plugs via our Instagram account for other Bristol Girl Bosses outside of our collective. To submit your work to be featured just use our hashtag #BristolGirlBosses. The hashtag is gaining lots of popularity already so it seems it’s a good one to use anyway!

Bristol Girl Bosses Hashtag Instagram