Kingston Business School Trade Fair

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After our Dragon’s Den we knew that we only had a few weeks to prepare for our first trade fair and the stakes were high. As one could only imagine when taking part in a trade fair for the first time, there is certainly a lot of pressure from the do’s and don’ts. Call it human nature or just ambition regardless of whether someone is doing something for the first time we always want to do well. No member of my team nor myself had ever taken part in a trade fair before, we had been to many, knew what they were but there were still many things we did not know. Likely we individually read and watched a lot to familiarise ourselves with the concept. We started drafting earlier on what we wanted our stand to look like, what the focus should be put on etc. It is not an easy process trying to find the direction the brand should take because a dew weeks ago in December after the first Dragon’s Den everything sounded easy (manufacturing, developing brand awareness, etc) it was not until we had to get our hands dirty that we realised that there’s too much that has and will go into everything. Perhaps not everyone will experience this but working with a team where each member if a bit of a perfectionist is certainly overbearing at times.

Now, did we get the product ready for the trade fair? YES WE DID!! We only made 8 to sell at the first fair and see how people would react. We made them in a waterproof fabric and offered in either “navy bleu or black”. It is worth mentioning that we tried to make a few units ourselves but did not like the finish considering the price we were planning on asking we thought that the quality had to be good. As a result we embarked on a mission to find a tailor that was both affordable and was able to work within the time frame we would give him. After a few frogs, we finally found someone who was not quite our prince but who could do for the time.  We were still not please with the end result and decided that for the next fair we will go back on the hunt for our prince.

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Thankfully, we were told not to buy banners because I can see why it is easier to just put your money into banners hopping that it will help you stand out. We were instead encouraged to use our imagination to come up with something which was hard. We settled on the suitcase, as if it was not hard enough we kept thinking until the day of the first trade fair of how we could improve. My advice is stick to what you’ve agreed and wait for the first people who approach you , get them talking to see how they like it and people as surprised as I was are not afraid to tell you what they think. When we were told that it was confusing to find or know what the product was, that the stand looked like a boutique we quickly took down the packaging, the bin in what the product was and the end result looked like this:

Before:

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After:

Although there is no picture of the after but as mentioned above the following were removed:

  • The bags
  • The suitcase
  • The small white bin
  • The treats

Did our stand help tell a story? We thought at first that our stand was communicating a story but our product was drowning to say the least, it was not easy to spot.  We got a lot of “So what are you selling?” or “where is your product?” “Are you selling suitcases?” Yes, we had suitcases as part of our décor to sort of guide or hint the people that our product was related to travel. We had pictures clipped onto those suitcases as the pictures show.

Thankfully we were allowed to struggle first and were given guidance the day after to know the do’s and don’ts for the fairs to come. Something that was a bit hard to comprehend at first because it sounded like a doctor telling a patient, yes I want you to get sicker first before I can operate on you. We had to trust in them and allow ourselves to make mistakes before we could understand what they were trying to tell also I think that by allowing us to that first it will stick and will surely not be forgotten.

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