Welcome 2020 and the Top Drawer Event
I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and a great start to the New Year.
2020 already! Where did last year go? 2019 flew by as I continued to develop my art practice and grow my business and in a blink, it was gone. So, welcome 2020, I am excited to see what it brings.
I love having my online shop and, even though they are very tiring, I love market days too, especially because I get to meet lots of the lovely people who support my business.
Markets and fairs are such a good way for makers to showcase their work. When I am at these events, I am often reminded of the Just a Card Campaign, which was set up by artist and designer, Sarah Hamilton. The campaign aims to encourage people to support artists, designers and small, independent businesses, by reinforcing the message that all purchases, even ‘just a card’, does make a difference. So, while I can’t buy all the goodies that I come across, buying something small, like a card, really helps creators.
Being able to support myself as an artist and maintain my practice through income generated from my illustrations, can be very challenging. Whilst I would really love to sit and make art all day, the reality is that, like makers of any kind, I must keep finding new ways to sell my work in order to make a living!
So last year, with the hope of increasing my wholesale business, I applied for a stand at the January 2020 Top Drawer event – ‘the UK’s leading lifestyle trade show for design-led brands’ – and I was excited to be accepted into their ‘Spotted’ location in this month’s show.
There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get ready for the show, as well as developing my new Spring / Summer 2020 designs (more of that next month) so I was grateful to have the support of my fiancé, Aneurin, especially with the technical side of getting the wholesale catalogue ready and preparing the stand plan.
The show, held in London, is a regular, bi-annual event where buyers and retailers from all over the country can come and have a look at makers of all types: It is a five day event – two days to set up your stand and three days for the actual show, meeting, greeting and networking.
It was very nerve-racking and exciting. Being quite a shy person, it certainly stretched my communication skills. We had a British Sign Language interpreter with us, which helped. I managed to say ‘hello’ to everyone who passed by and learnt a few things about networking along the way. We aimed to be easily accessible, clear about the range of illustrations available and take orders quickly and efficiently. Adding SKU codes underneath every product on the stand, with a clipboard stacked with printed order forms, a calculator and a card reader at the ready, led to some very positive remarks on our organisational skills!
The show went very well, far beyond my expectations. I met lots of independent retailers and gained EIGHT new stockists. One of them was the Royal Horticultural Society, which is one of my dream stockists. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received an email from them placing an order! Happy, happy dance! It is a great start to 2020 for Katrina Sophia!
Whilst there wasn’t much time to have a look around at all the other exhibits, I did come across some fantastic new-to-me artists. Do go and look them up:
- A ceramic artist with a talent for stories, Kay Van Bellen makes unusual and delightfully painted ceramics – https://www.kayvanbellen.com/
- If you love dinosaurs like I do, then Katie Putt’s dinosaur prints will be right up your alley – she makes super watercolour prints – https://www.katieputt.com/
- I am always looking for a unique gift for my sister and Elleni Canaris creates brilliant hand-decorated berets – https://ellenithelabel.com/
- Alice Acreman’s silk textiles are wonderful – https://www.aliceacremansilks.com/
- Emilia Hunt’s lovely designs are available in a variety of home-ware products https://emiliahunt.com/.
Both Emilia and Alice are now on list for items as we do up the house.
It was an exhausting five days. Luckily, we were glad to be able to enjoy some home comforts by staying with my mum in London! Thanks Mum!
A big shout out to my fiancé, for his outstanding support both before, during and after the show. I am looking out for something special for him for Valentine’s Day!
And lastly, but not least, as 2020 begins its sprint, a massive ‘THANK YOU’ to all of you who have supported and continue to support my creative business, from reading my blog to buying a card to commissioning work.