TOP DRAWER

Top Drawer is the UK’s leading retail trade event for creative lifestyle buyers, showcasing a curated edit of 1500 brands to top international retailers.

Find Sky Siouki on stand B31 in Home.

DIARY OF AN ARTIST: Exhibiting at British Craft Trade Fair 2018

 

Earlier this month I exhibited at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate for the first time. It was my second ever trade show after exhibiting at Top Drawer in September 2017 and quite a different show in contrast. As a designer-maker I know it can be really hard to know what these shows are like before attending them and to choose what is best for your brand. Hopefully this post may give a little bit of useful insight into what this show was like for anyone interested in exhibiting there.

Me on my stand at BCTF 2018
Me on my stand at BCTF 2018

 

Much like it was at Top Drawer, everyone was given the day before the show opened to set-up their stand which was the Saturday between 9am-6pm. However, unlike Top Drawer, the walls are not so solid so it is not possible to screw or nail anything into them, only to stick things to them and use hooks to suspend things from the tops. This meant I had to think a little more creatively about how to display my heavy stone coasters and placemats. In the end I prepared a shelf panel that could be hung from the wall which actually made set up much simpler on the day and I quite liked the appearance of. Hanging framed artwork on the other hand was really tricky as everything wobbled about and I managed to break one frame in the process. I used zipper hooks suspended on nylon cables which were difficult to keep in place being so lightweight so a lot of sticky fixers and gaffa tape ended up getting used behind the scenes. It worked in the end but took a lot of time and I ended up finishing at 6:15pm.

My Stand at British Craft Trade Fair 2018
My Stand at British Craft Trade Fair 2018

 

The show was open Sunday, Monday and Tuesday which was the same as Top Drawer again. The atmosphere felt quite different though. Overall it was quite relaxed and friendly. I felt less intimidated by buyers this time although this may have been due to having more experience by then. I think the time of year was probably a factor as well though as in September a lot of buyers were keen to get orders in in good time for Christmas.

The British Craft Trade Fair is fairly small but very well curated and has a much more niche craft and artist led focus than some bigger retail events. It was clear that most of the buyers had come from galleries and from a lot of rural places in the UK. Buyers were predominantly from the North and Midlands area which suited me well as I mainly had stockists based in the South before the show. Unfortunately the footfall did feel sparse and by the Tuesday the time really went by slowly. I got a really great outcome out of exhibiting but I feel fairly uncertain about whether I would exhibit there again due to what I gathered sounds to be a decline in attendance and the long distance to travel.

Dawn Maciocia and Joanna Coupland BCTF Stands
Dawn Maciocia and Joanna Coupland

 

Here are a few images of my favourite stands of other exhibitors there. There was a beautiful array of work on show including ceramics, glassware, artwork, textiles, sculpture, jewellery and greetings cards. There was quite clearly a lot of nature inspired work which explains why the show attracts a lot of rural based retailers.

Karen Risby and Rachel Thornton BCTF Stands
Karen Risby and Rachel Thornton

 

Pack down is on Tuesday between 5-9pm immediately after the show closes. I was very glad to have booked my Air BnB for one extra night so that I could make the journey home when I was fresh in the morning. Doing BCTF was a great experience and I’m very glad I tried it out. I wanted to use the show to gauge whether selling my original paintings with galleries would be a viable opportunity and it certainly helped me to answer that question. I had a wonderful response to the paintings I took with me from several galleries so I will certainly be continuing to do more painting in future which is really exciting! Otherwise, I am sticking with Top Drawer for now as far as trade shows go and will be exhibiting there again next year in January.

Sky x

 

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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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SKY SIOUKI 2017 EVENTS

I’ve got a few new 2017 events in place now so here is a little update of where you can find me and buy from Sky Siouki in the coming months. I’m making an effort to try to push myself to do more events so I can meet more customers, learn what you like and of course keep Sky Siouki thriving so hopefully all of the events will bring lots of good things!

 

The Frome Independent 2017 Events

THE FROME INDEPENDENT

When: Sunday 5th March, Sunday 2nd April, Sunday 7th May

Where: Frome, Somerset

What: If you haven’t been to the Frome Independent before then I’d highly recommend a visit! On the first Sunday of every month, as they put it – something wonderful will happen! The whole town is taken over with an amazing array of handmade wares, artisan food, vintage treasures and family friendly entertainment. I’m excited to be selling at the market again with my new Flight collection this time having missed out last year.

All being well, I’ll be back in Frome in April and May throughout Spring with my mini-stall on Catherine Hill. Waiting for confirmation on the Summer markets for June, July and August still but hoping this one may just become a regular thing each month.

 

The Bristol Artisan 2017 Events

THE BRISTOL ARTISAN

When: Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th March

Where: The Arnolfini, Bristol

What: Brought to you by Designers / Makers, you may have already seen my previous post announcing that I would be selling at this exciting new event in Bristol where you can read more about it. With 50 designer makers taking part and taking place across Mother’s Day weekend it’ll be the perfect thing to do in Bristol with your mum!

 

 

Top Drawer 2017 Events

TOP DRAWER

When: Sunday 10th – Tuesday 12th September

Where: Olympia, London

What: This one is just for looking I’m afraid as it’s a big London trade show for those who aren’t familiar with it. It really is huge though and it’s been a long time goal of mine to attend so I am SO ecstatic to reveal that I’m going to be there with my very own stand in the Spotted section this September! So nervous and excited at the same time, still doesn’t quite seem real!

 

That’s all of my 2017 events for now but there may well be even more things to come. Although I’m trying my best not to overdo it or you may find me without any hair left by Christmas! Keep following the blog and join the mailing list to stay updated with what Sky Siouki has planned next!

 

Crafty Fox Peckham, Dec 2016

Last Sunday was my final Christmas market of the year in London at the Crafty Fox Market Peckham. I have to admit it feels pretty relieving to have finished up my markets for the year as I am well and truly knackered now but it’s been a lot of fun and a lot of success which is wonderful!

Crafty Fox Stall

As it turned out Crafty Fox was actually my least successful market this year which I was quite surprised by since it was very busy all day. I perhaps a little naively expected London customers to have a little more spending money in their pockets. The event was really well run with upbeat music playing and a real buzz throughout the venue from start to finish. I was only just about set up before customers were already coming through the doors when it opened. It was lovely to meet new fans as always and learn from other traders at the event so there was certainly still a lot to take away from the day. The crowd seemed significantly younger on average than I would usually see at the Made In Bristol Gift Fair which I think was down to the area of London and I feel may have had some effect on my sales. I also couldn’t help wonder if the wildlife based theme of my work may appeal more to people who choose to live in an area with such a large amount of surrounding countryside like Bristol has.

Crafty Fox Peckham

I had always wondered if I’d been holding myself back by fearing driving in London and missing out on events like Crafty Fox so the purpose of going had always been intended as a bit of a test. It’s very interesting to now know, and a little comforting even, that I don’t need to feel I’m missing out on too much through living outside of the capital and it also reminded me of just what an amazing thriving creative community there is in Bristol. For now I’m undecided if I may revisit Crafty Fox as a trader but I’m certainly feeling more ready to conquer a London trade show now I’ve managed driving around in the city a little.

Crafty Fox

Like a lot of the traders at the market, I only had a small square table to work with so this was another challenge I conquered through doing the market. I’ve felt like my stall displays perhaps could have done with an upgrade since launching a lot more products this year so this gave me a good reason to invest in some new display props. I was pretty pleased that I managed to put everything on display using height to my advantage. This is another aspect that’s got me excited about exhibiting at a trade show as good presentation will be everything and I’m excited to start planning how I could lay out my stand.

That’s nearly it for me this Christmas but you can of course still order from Sky Siouki online! My final order date to get gifts in time for Christmas is Dec 19th. Shop here!