Friday, 29 November 2013

2013 London Country Living Christmas Fair

While I was in London last Christmas, I thought that it would be fun and also really interesting to participate at a London Christmas fair and I really liked the idea of taking part in the 2013 London Country Living Christmas Fair which would be taking place from 30th October until 3rd November. So I decided to go for it and I submitted my application form in February and to my great joy I was accepted!  

I knew that I would need to work really hard to prepare enough merchandise to sell at the fair. I had nine months in which to create a diverse and plentiful selection of housewares ranging from tea boxes, serving trays, jewellry boxes, decorative signs, storage boxes and key holders etc.

Apart from creating my merchandise, I also needed to work my way through their huge exhibition manual so that I could comply with the various requirements expected of me as an exhibitor. Plus I needed to make the arrangements for the delivery of what would be a pallet from Greece to the UK and arrange my own flights. I also needed to enlist the help of my very good friend Stella, with whom I would be staying, to turn her house upside down in order to find me props for my stand. Coming from Greece all I would have by way of stand decor were my exhibition panels and shelves. Also in addition to all the paperwork, I had press packs to prepare to promote my business, which would include press releases etc. So I really had my work cut out for me!
Before long, it was time to send my pallet to the UK and I sent it off terrified that it would either get lost or my merchandise would be damaged etc....two weeks later, it was my turn to fly to London.

Now I was getting seriously excited about the fair! Opening day was on the Wednesday and Tuesday was set up day. I was on tenterhooks waiting for my pallet to be delivered. The exhibition center was huge, a really amazing building and it was absolutely chaotic with all the exhibitors unloading their merchandise and setting up their stands. Stella had come up trumps and found me a vintage trunk, a vintage suitcase, several wicker baskets and old wine crates. So armed with these props, plus my panels and shelves (which had arrived safe and intact along with my merchandise) I set about trying to create a warm, attractive and inviting stand. Of course I could not hope to compete with the other exhibitor's stands as they had the luxury of bringing complete showrooms with them and the majority of the stands were absolutely stunning! But as you can see from the pictures I think I managed to do a good job and judging from the comments of the visitors,  they liked my stand too.

 From the minute the fair opened every morning right through until closing time, the exhibition center was packed. I was really lucky to have some lovely neighbors who were more than happy to keep an eye on my stand for me when I needed to grab a coffee or go for a five minute break.

The Gala evening, which was held on the Thursday was nice - there were plenty of customers but the pace was much slower and more relaxed and there was the added bonus of several waitresses wondering around with trays full of complimentary glasses of wine, which needless to say I took advantage of.



All in all I was thrilled that the fair went very well for me. I got terrific feedback about my work which almost sold out (I returned with just two boxes) and I came back home to Greece with clear ideas as to how I want Fiona's Creations to proceed and I'm looking forward to the New Year with lots of new ideas and plans for the future.