Archive for the ‘Markets and Fairs’ Category

Live Local, Love Local, Buy Local – should we endeavour to embrace this concept? Can it be done?

It’s difficult. I know. Our village has a monthly market selling local produce and crafts. Aside from selling at it, I rarely visit. Why? I am lured into the convenient world of online grocery shopping offered by the big supermarkets and I loll there. I can shop on my phone from the comfort of my bed for goodness sake! But, it is possible to get the best of both worlds. Popping along to the village market, picking up a few bits and bobs for dinner, buying the freshest of bread and chatting to friends really can’t be beaten. It might be a tad more expensive and a bit bothersome, but as your shopping bag bumps against your leg on the walk home you feel a connection to your community that can’t be had from an app on your phone.

This Christmas past I attempted to buy gifts from small companies or direct from designer-makers in the UK. It was a challenge. Amazon won out, especially when it came to compiling wish lists for the children. But, if you know where to look (and therein lies the challenge) you can find the most marvellous things. I am proud to say that I sell my lampshades with Love-Local – an online retailer specialising in gifts made in Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire. Here’s some of the best from the sunny South West –

Sherrington Baker Boy Cap

Leather Mini Satchel


Last November I had the most spiffing time at Crikey! It’s Vintage in Exeter. The Thistle Hotel is a sublime venue, with huge picture windows, high ornate ceilings and golden chandeliers that make all the marvellous stalls glitter and glint. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave – bursting with treasures and treats. Fabulously organised and supporting a brilliant charity – The Women’s Land Army Tribute. Check out the extensive list of things you can do during the day. And don’t forget to come and say hi – I’ll be there with a beautiful array of specially made shades.

  • 30 Vintage traders selling everything from vintage home-wares, kitchenalia items, china, decorative items and collectables.
  • 15 Handmade crafters selling vintage inspired hair accessories, jewellery, fabric items, brooches, crochet pieces, origami mobiles, retro/vintage style paintings and lots lots more!
  • Two vintage fashion shows, with vintage and vintage inspired clothes sellers.
  • The vintage wedding emporium.
  • A retro style photo-shoot, from Jennie Hill Photography.
  • A pop up beauty parlour complete with hair stylist Lucy Milton, vintage nail artist Vanessa, and Vintage make over from Jane.
  • A pop up tattoo parlour from the lovely ladies of INK, Exeter.
  • A bookable burlesque ‘stocking removal’ workshop, hosted by Lady Lace.
  • Jive dance performances.
  • A pop up cinema, showing popular retro TV shows. Complete with retro popcorn cart!
  • A mini Tupperware party, hosted by The Vintage Cream.
  • Super cakes from Kiss and Bake up.
  • The Sewing Sanctuary will be providing make and take sessions, whereby you can make a pair of frilly knickers or a vintage style corsage, what fun!
  • J W Bardgett Guitars, performances, and a bookable workshop to ‘make yourself an upright bass’.
  • Make and take sessions; Make your own frilly knickers (priced at £5) and make your own vintage insipred rosette (priced at £3) These sessions will be running all day throughout the day, on a turn up and start basis.   Suitable for beginners with a small amount of sewing knowledge, all materials will be provided

Mollie Makes has a great fabric fortune cookie tutorial over on their blog in honour of the Chinese New Year. If you want a different method, there’s a great one by Megan at Brassy Apple, which I blogged about last year. I use a modified version of Megan’s technique, using my trusty hot-glue gun and pipe cleaners. Every Quincy customer receives a fortune cookie with their order and I always have a stack of them to give away at markets and fairs – they are great conversation openers and act as samples for customers to match up fabrics to their home decor. Plus they are keepsakes for customers to remember my name. I still love making these little favours, especially when I need some encouragement in business. The fortunes, even though I know them off by heart, often give me a kick up the bum and make me do a double take.

Yesterday I visited two trade shows, both at Earls Court London – Top Drawer Spring and Home. Top Drawer showcases design-led gifts, lifestyle and fashion accessories for 2012, whilst Home was all about new homewares and interiors accessories. Both of these huge bright spaces were packed with really exciting stuff – like the bestest, most loveliest shop you have ever, ever seen. Trouble being that, as an individual, you cannot buy! These shows are for retail buyers – people who decide what’s going to be sold in the shops. As an exhibitor you’re there to show off your product and pick up as many orders as you can.

If I hadn’t had a list of people to meet, products to see and a car parking limit, I could have spent a long, long time wandering the aisles. Some booths were small and peppered with a select range of the exhibitor’s products. Other spaces were huge and set out like shops, full to bursting. Each space was brilliantly lit and tendered by the designer-maker themselves or by the brand’s representatives. It was the designer-makers who caught my attention – I recognised the fascination on their faces as they watched the visitors eyeing up their wares. I recognised the nerves, the hard work, the attention they gave to each and every enquiry made  – after all, this person could be placing the big order they went there to get!

I learnt some lessons –

  1. Must get business cards printed and carry them at all times (I introduced myself to some gorgeous fabric designers, including Thornback & Peel and Abigail Borg, but had nothing to give them).
  2. Must be more confident with business/trade/retail terminology (I must know what I am talking about).
  3. Do not attempt a trade show for another few years (I must have absolute confidence in my product, brand, business direction and ability to fulfil orders to stand tall in this very polished environment).
  4. Continue to use social media to follow through with contacts (a Facebook mention, a Like and Twitter follow reminds them of me and keeps me up-to-date with their work).
  5. It’s all in the detail. I will start using 12mm tape for the ring set rolling.

So, best of luck to Caroline from Warbeck and Cox, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting, and who found herself in the ‘Spotted’ section of the show – hurrah! (See our collaboration below.) And Lush Designs, whose work is truly luscious and who was just too busy taking a massive order for me to say hi! Take a look at their stand here.

My world grew this year. It billowed outwards and encompassed a world of new friends and touched lightly on the shoulders of business. With this alone, I am happy. I have been delighted by reciprocated kindnesses and taken aback by other’s selfless generosity. For me, this year has been about people.

I have made and sold over 200 lampshades. Selling via 5 online shops, one bricks and mortar, two pop-ups, a load of markets and fairs, and from my own home. I  have supplied wholesale and forged a partnership with an interiors supplier. More on-line shops are lined up for early next year, but they’ll be fewer markets and shows – I have to be pickier. Discovering that my grandfather was a lampshade-maker in the 50s was a joyful surprise. Over 20 people have learnt new lampshade-making skills from me. I have embraced and enjoyed social media, networking, and selling. Lampshades have been ripped apart, sold for peanuts, got squashed in boxes. Pricing and quoting has been difficult (the amount of quotes I’ve given for bespoke lampshades without a reply in response is really quite surprising, and dispiriting). I have got through 12 rotary cutters, 2 steam irons, 2 metal rules, one pair of scissors, 100m of fabric, 50m of PVC, hundreds of ringsets, roll upon roll of tape, corner punched hundreds of compliment slips, price-tagged, listed, and spent many hours ironing! Oh, the ironing.  I have grappled with a gazebo, carted around huge boxes, have frozen and fried to a crisp at various markets. I am in profit, and by a decent margin.

What does 2012 have in store? A new range of lampshades. An e-commerce enabled website. A rebrand. Perhaps my own shop on the Gloucester Road, Bristol, for one week only. What would you do, if you were owner at Quincy Lampshades?

It’s still odd to see Quincy Lampshades ‘out there’ in the big wide world. From a roll of PVC propped up in my hall and a bashed up box full of fabric, these lovely lampshades materialise at my kitchen table and are stored in my spare room. From my little brain ideas arise whilst my fingers furiously tap at my Apple mac. And here they are – nestled among terrific things. Take a goosey gander at the Blog&Buy Christmas Showcase. Tweet me, Facebook share. I could win a prize.

How do you decorate? What comes first? Are lampshades the sugar icing, or the gooey jam in the middle of your cake/room? I have a lovely customer who’s just moved into her new house. She has begun her adventures in decorating with lampshades – seven of them! Two bespoke shades for her living room. Two matching shades but with different diameters for a classy, clean look in her hall. A teeny one for her loo. A birdy one for the bedroom and another for the dining room. She has graced me by saying the shades are like little works of art. She may have had to cart the shades away in not-very-glamourous black bin bags, but her shopping experience in my home was lovelier than traipsing around John Lewis, I’m sure!

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