Why I’m saying no to UK trade shows in 2014

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Jessica Flinn on taking a personal approach to meeting new customers.

By Jessica Flinn

As a young designer who is relatively new to the industry, it’s really important for me to make a name for myself in the jewellery world.

I know that I need to work hard to maintain my profile and ensure that people know me and my brand, but after giving the matter some long and hard thought, I’ve made the decision not to exhibit at any trade fairs in 2014.

I know that trade shows are seen by many as an excellent way to network and get your product noticed. The fairs are also very well respected and extremely important for nurturing valuable business relationships.

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Over the past three years I have attended events like IJL and I’ll be the first to admit that I have managed to set up many meetings that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

But the cost of attending shows is always very expensive, especially if you are just starting out and even more so when you factor in accommodation, food and parking.

For new young designers, trade shows are too expensive and it might be the case for some smaller operations that the money made doesn’t match the outlay – and when the figures don’t stack up that’s the time to question why you’re there.

Something else that has deterred me are the changes taking place at the shows. For example, IJL is on the move to Olympia in September which means the designers will be on a balcony away from the main entrance; at Earls Court the designer area was a success because it was the first thing retailers saw.

I have always believed in getting out and meeting independent retailers personally; they’re some of my keenest supporters. So I’ll be doing even more of that in 2014, writing to clients to explain why I am not attending the fairs and then booking a series of personal visits. I was particularly impressed by Andrew Geoghegan’s national road trip in 2013; having read how successful it proved for him I hope to emulate that success for myself.

But if I do feel the need to do a trade show, I think I’ll head for the international market. So it could be bonjour Paris or hello New York. 

This Guest Column was taken from the February 2014 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.

 

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