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Making the most of a trade show

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

With September comes trade shows! For all my friends in retail you'll have had a keen eye and probably a couple of feet on at least one trade show this month already. A wonderful opportunity to not just make your orders for the coming seasons but to chat to unique brands from around the world, meet makers & hear about their design process and spot new trends to excite your customers.

This is a harder job than it sounds with bigger shows than ever to explore and lots of similar products to try narrow down what will fit best for you. The job of exhibiting and visiting needs to become more thought each year. So here is some of the reasons I stopped during my wander around Top Drawer to provide some options to consider for your next trader show, whether its things to look for or prepare yourself to stand out amongst the rows.

Zoe Sherwood a UAL Graduate I saw her on the Top Drawer stories feed before my visit. Now this is sometimes outside your control as the event organiser will post what they want to but giving them plenty of options with an email of info and images gets them in the right frame of mind. If you can complete your own listing on the event website, fill it with top line content many visitors check the exhibitors list for hints. The show collateral from pre-show magazine to event guide all have ad opportunities to consider before you get to the event. And don't forget to tag them in your posts, as they may repost or act as a reminder to come find your stand on the day.

Lara Gorlach is a familiar face that I was keen to catch up with. Don't forget those you know already! Invite people to come see you on your stand; whether its past/current stockists, others in the industry it's an opportunity to be found & seen in a central London location all ready to chat. If there is a stockist you'd love to meet, message them your stall number and the number one product you think they'll like. It doesn't have to be over the top but the more people who know where to find you the better and if your visiting don't be afraid to get in touch with the list you want to meet to try not miss anyone out.

UWP Luxe represented by NorthLightDesign, I was given one of their cards in a press bag years before and stopped for a closer look at the brand as their previous product stuck in my mind. Now stationery is a hard one as the items themselves are small plus there is usually a lot of choice available but with small products there is also a plus side, samples. There are always press zones & goody bags that you can submit to but also at Top Drawer they have a selection of trend displays, awards and even venue decoration that you can be involved with. The more visibility you have across the show the better.

Liga had a display that stopped heads. Sometimes the best impression is the visual one, with Liga I knew of their brand & their product but they come back each show stronger. More products on show, developed to appeal to their stockists customers all made from one amazing material that they know all about. I can always see how I could display and use they products instantly from their display and left the stand with a list of easy choices and loads of ideas.


A couple of interesting conversations I had whilst I was at Top Drawer this week.


Offering the best of both worlds wonderful minimalist stationers ola had more wrap designs for their usual collection but also a newly launched fabric range. Inspired by the Japanese art of furoshiki these tonal wraps with geometric patterns are a re-usable option perfect for the conscious gifter. Now sustainability was very visible across the show with lots of replacements for your favourite guilty pleasures as well as new items made from more eco conscious sources.

Jan Constantine

A very interesting topic I have been discussing recently are heirlooms, how we aren't manufacturing pieces to last for the future. Vintage items are constantly being revived and appreciated but what item have you bought new recently that you can imagine having in your house in 50 years time? Though there are many investment brands and purchases being made today they don't produce the same sentimental attachment that come with heirlooms. Along with many other factors like family dynamics, brands are so often having to change up their products style to please a demanding customer that it's hard to share the importance of a single item.

Jan's tagline is 'heirlooms of the future' items to enjoy, keep and then pass on. A mantra that strikes at the heart of this issue and her new Christmas collections are just the sort designs I could imagine buying and making part of my seasonal traditions.


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