Event Awesomeness - Our Weekend in MK!
A couple of weeks ago we had our first stall at the Handmade & Vintage Fair shopping event in Milton Keynes, and wow! What a weekend it was! Here's all you need to know about how it all went...
So I first heard a couple of years ago about the Handmade Fair in Milton Keynes, back in the days when I was doing lots of fairs and before we had the shop, and rumours were it was a goodie! For one reason or another (usually a clash of dates with other things) we never actually got around to applying. So when I actually saw amongst my 10,000 unread emails (oh gaaaaaad) back in November that the applications were open for March I thought, 'Yes! Let's do this!'.
So to apply I emailed with all the info about our business and what we do, but I knew the event is REALLY well supported, with a very high level of applicants, so I was both amazed and delighted that we were successful! And then the hard work began....
Getting ready for a big event like this takes months of preparation, I began doodling my stall ideas on the train to Top Drawer back in January. I left my notebook on the train, so that went well. *Rolls eyes*.
With new notebook in hand (good job I know a great little shop to buy stationery from!!), and re-designing my ideas, I went about ordering all the equipment we needed. I wanted really cool pegboards to hang some mugs on, and wanted little peg shelves to sit our concrete letters on. As it is a handmade fair only, it meant we had to streamline our range to the things we make ourselves only (so our cushions, lampshades, mugs, and concrete letters), but this was good as it meant the stall would look focused and stop me taking EVERYTHING we own!
Once all the stall display goodies arrived, I found a bargain piece of white wood in Homebase (no barcode so just a charity donation needed - double winner!). I spent the evening sawing that up, as well as cutting down long pegs for the pegboard. My DIY skills were unimpressive to say the least, but I told myself no-one would be there assessing my skills with a saw, so I tried not to worry too much about it.
MUGS, MUGS, MUGS
Making enough stock for the event was a bit of an unknown as we hadn't done it before, so I had no real idea what to expect. I started printed mugs over a month before, but a week of being ill with tonsillitis (not had that since I was a kid, its evil!) wiped out a week so some last minute cramming meant we finally had 150 mugs to take, that should be enough right? Lee had been really busy with the concrete mix, making sure we had enough letters. He had also begun to make some new door stops which we were going to launch at the show, exciting!
You could set up your stall from 8-11pm on the Friday night which was a godsend, my lovely sister (who is WAY more practical than me, so a wise choice of roadie I felt) came with me to help get the stall display all set up and in place, ready to put the stock in the next morning.
This didn't exactly go as planned!! The clamps I bought to hold the pegboards were entirely wrong, the pegs I thought would fit perfectly were slightly too small for the holes, so it meant the mugs slid off and the little shelves didn't stay in place. Great. So we scrapped that idea and improvised with covering some cardboard boxes with cloths to create a bit of height. Not a bad very-last-minute-plan-B. We organised all the mug stock in number order under the stall, and then left for the night. A trip to the shop to fill up on stock, and some final bits to do at home meant getting to bed at half past midnight ready for a 4.30 am start the next day, eekkkk.
So after a missed alarm wake up (awesome), and this time with my poor Mum in tow, we got there at 7.30 to finish setting up the stall ready for opening. I was really touched by how friendly and welcoming Jen (event organiser) and all the other stallholders were, as the event has been going for so long they have a lot of regular sellers who go out of their way to welcome newbies like me. It felt like we were joining a real community of lovely other small businesses, so the opportunity to sell in a big, main shopping centre (right outside John Lewis no less!), was amazing.
The event opened at 9am and was busy from the start! As they've been going for so long they've built up a real following of lovely customers, who like to come and support the event, plus regular Saturday shoppers, meant the footfall was high.
We were overwhelmed with the response, we had such lovely comments about our stall, sold LOADS (including so many mugs I had to go home and print more Saturday night ready for Sunday), met such wonderful new customers, the highlights of which the guy who saw our 'Basically I'm Beyonce' mug and claimed that WAS him; in the shower, at the gym, he just IS. He was my fave customer by far and was so, so funny I kept thinking about all the lol things he said all weekend, cheers dude!
So buzzing after two days of big trading, and a head full of ideas for everything we need to do for next time, we packed up on the Sunday night and headed back home to a massive cuddle from my Archie (I think he'd missed his Mummy), which was the perfect end to a Mother's Day I'd missed with him. We are keeping our fingers, toes, eyes and ears crossed that we get in next time! I'll keep you posted...