Preparing for a big retail fair - Country Living part 2

Well only just over a week to go until my first big event. Although I am really looking forward to it, at the moment I feel exhausted! I am really pleased with what I have done so far but as you can see there is still some way to go. This isn't all of it...

My very exclusive 15 teatowels are done and my miniscule stickers from, just need to bag up the former and work out how to deal with the latter. Still more prints to do and cards to make but all that I have done so far is framed or bagged. Just  a few boxes of wood to varnish or decorate! A breeze! I have actually started making small piles of things to do only if I have time rather than piling on more pressure, which is quite positive I believe.

I know when I come to bag and price things I will be pleased with all the new designs I've managed to create in the last few weeks. Even commissions coming in has been helpful in a way, for example a customer emailed me to ask if I did any red and white designs for doorhangers and I offerred to make this for her:

(the new horse print to be fully revealed at the show!) Of course I made another sample and sent that one off! I have created a huge job for myself in that I now have quite a few new things to ask Tony to photograph for my shop on . I think if i had a superpower it would be to stretch or freeze time to suit me....

These are a few new tags for trade customers but I will be offering them on Noths too, I really love them! I did lots of these at Christmas but all these are everyday; my Christmas ones are shaped like holly leaves.

Something I will say about Country Living - they are very organised. You receive a large A4 ring bound book full of instructions and forms to complete and send off to arrange all aspects of the show. You are given deadlines for each form. As soon as I read those I filled in all the most urgent ones immediately. As a first timer I really want to get in there early - particularly as I have my stand to paint and I shall probably be doing the set up alone. I've been so efficient that I didn't remember receiving my car pass and  when I chased it in a panic a few days ago that I shall be the fourth person to unload in the first slot.... later that day I found my pass "filed" under some stacks of miscellaneous papers!

There was the lighting to organise ; I went with hiring a socket at the show in the endand have sourced two downlighters - I shall add the web address later when I have time but do prompt me if you are interested in where I found them. I'll be borrowing some lights from a friend to arrange on my shelves. Another tip - I sorted out my mobile payment option - but only just in time. You need a merchant number and then you need to ignore the address that they tell you to send to the direct debit forms to and send them all back to them with the forms. Yes. I did as it said on the forms. So they weren't with the application. It took a few attempts and nearly two further weeks to receive and send back new ones! Finally sorted - thank goodness.

There are a lot of costs I didn't take into consideration and I haven't yet toted it all up but I estimate that even with the discounted  WiRE stand I have probably spent £1500 on the whole thing - may be more. Bare all that in mind if you are going for it next year!

Other costs I incurred of my own volition were joining the GCA and ACID. Both organisations will be a huge help to me in the future and I have to get serious about what I am doing.... don't I..?! Here are just a few of the cards I've designed recently:

Doing the show - whilst I have found the preparation physically challenging has helped me to clarify where I am going. For example, yesterday I painted a few campervans. It had been my intention to make about 10, by the end of the day I'd made five. Admittedly I am tired but I just realised - I can't offer them to trade. I would make no money for the time it takes me! They will stay a bespoke or direct to customer product!

I am sure doing this show will prove to be really invaluable for me as I will find out over 5 days what my customers really like or not... I certainly don't regret the investment in time and money this all represents for me (of course i'd love it to be cheaper!). Really the only downside is the same problem all artist makers or those building their own business - that of not having enough time for friends and family.

One thing, no two things I want to say about the preparation. It is hard, hard work when you do it all on your own. Secondly I am so grateful to my very patient husband both for his gesso painting help when he has time and for putting up with my mess in virtually all rooms in the house!! For being a general star.

I will report back after the event and would be delighted to meet any of you on W8 at the Business Design Centre Islington, from March 23rd - 27th ;

best wishes Gabs



  1. Wow Gabs you have been so busy. Wishing you every sucess at Country Living.

  2. You sound very organised and I'm sure you'll be fine and enjoy it - you're definitely looking at it the right way, a good way to learn things if nothing else.
    Good luck, Ruth x (@ocean_design)

  3. Wishing you the very best of luck - can't wait to see everything for real! I'll come and say hello on Thursday - get you a coffee and give you a loo break! Fingers crossed you'll have enough stock - make sure you keep one of everything back - so you can at least display what you do, if you sell out of everything! It all looks FAB! I'm sure you will be a HUGE success!

  4. I am only sorry that I can't make Country Living this year and come and say hello! All the best, I am sure the hard work will be worth it. It is expensive (as Heidi and Steve can vouch) but I think for 'getting yourself known' it is certainly a good stepping stone. Enjoy the experience.
    Best Regards
    Jenny x

  5. I am watching your every move on this one Gabby as I am thinking about doing this one next time - it all sounds really hard work and theres that worry that its all for nothing but then Im sure that people wouldn't go back time after time. Cant wait to hear all about it and I would be coming to see you but I am away.
    Cant wait to hear more,

  6. Wow - good luck with it. Not sure I am ambitious enough to go in for all that hassle, sorry I mean 'hard work'! You deserve your success.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story, you are such an inspiration cant wait to hear the final chapter after the show! As others have said you seem very organised & on track so keep going and enjoy it! good luck x

  8. Good luck, I didn't realise how much effore goes into having a stand at country living. I already worn out just reading what you had to do. I will check out your stand when im there. Cant wait x

  9. Hi there! I do hope you have a fab show! We met at the Ladder Club...i'm a 'newbee'too and just joining the GCA and going for a trial printing run of my cards. (The Fallen Angel Co) Will be in touch when you get back from the show. Moira x

  10. Hi there. We first met in Aylsham Town Hall, I think way back when and since then I think we have both designed for Flax and Finch. Hope the Country Living Fair went well - I would be grateful to hear if you thought it was a success or not. Found you via Dots and Spots - great blog.

  11. Thanks for all your wonderful comments, I promise to blog again soon. just up to my eyes in preparing for the next show - to trade - very different so i will compare and contrast next week! x Gabs


Post a Comment

I love to have comments and read every one.. thank you!

Popular Posts