Trade Show Special
Preparing for Pulse: a first timerâ€™s experience What buyers expect Pimp your product shots
Could you benefit from joiningMakerhood? A maker’s life can be rather isolated, working away in your studio (or back bedroom!), wondering about the direction of your work, wishing you knew where to get advice on tax... Makerhood is all about creating local connections, and our Makers’ Club helps you do this through: - regular meetings with expert speakers, where you can also meet like-minded creative people to share information and collaborate - promotion through newsletters and social media - a profile on our website, where local people, organisations and businesses can Design by moderneccentrics.com 'Vessels with Tendrils' Anna Jackson/Black Cactus
find you. Include links to your website, - online shops and social media pages, show off your latest work, or announce the markets or shops you sell at, classes or workshops you teach - access to our closed Facebook group and makers' newsletter, which includes details of selling opportunities, some of them exclusive - exclusive/collaborative selling opportunities with local retailers and markets to promote our members. Previous examples include free stalls at local markets as part of the Love - Your Local Market campaign, and exclusive promotions with Diverse Gifts in Brixton - discounts from local businesses, including art supplies, framing, car hire, website development, PR advice and packaging. Membership costs £25 a year – for more information see: makerhood.com/join-makers-club
hello Welcome to the first issue of Makerhood magazine! As a showcase for makers in Lambeth, our aim is to bring together makers, businesses and the community in the local area.
best light, Gabriela Szulman and Jonny Dredge give their top tips for DIY product shots on page 14. Finally, we go behind the scenes with Kim Winter, one of Makerhood’s directors and founders, on page 17, to find out what makes her tick.
So in this issue, focused on trade shows, we talk to a couple of makers about what it’s like exhibiting at their first show and also get the buyer’s view from Brixton retailer and longtime Makerhood partner Anita Thorpe of Diverse. On page 9, Anita also explains how her business has benefited from collaborating with Makerhood over the years.
This issue also highlights two great opportunities for Makerhood members – the chance to take part in the Diverse Christmas showcase, and a free business account at Zipcar. If you’re not a member but are interested in joining, have a look at the other benefits of membership opposite.
Customers who can’t see your work in person at trade shows or other events rely on photographs, and poorly lit, out-of-focus shots taken in a hurry on your phone just won’t do. If you can’t afford a professional photographer to show your work in the
We hope you enjoy the magazine – if you’ve got comments or ideas for future issues, we’d love to hear from you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
making trade shows wor
As a successful small scale maker or designer, one of the most daunting challenges is how to expand and take the next steps. One way of growing your business is by scaling things up and selling wholesale, and the most obvious way to do that is to attend a trade show, such as Pulse or Top Drawer, which can be a terrifying prospect for a ‘one-man band’. Shows require a significant investment of time and money, and one might ask - is it worth the risk?
With these thoughts in mind, July Makers’ Club welcomed two fantastic speakers to give us a low down on trade shows, from both a maker’s and a retailer’s perspective. Rosa Pietsch (a South London based designer and maker) and Anita Thorpe (owner of Diverse gift store, Brixton) joined us to discuss their experiences of trade shows,
and to try and pin down the ‘dos and donts’ to help you make the most of your trade show debut. Anita started her first shop in 1999 on Atlantic Road and was there for 13 years in three different locations! Then the opportunity came up to be somewhere more central, on Coldharbour Lane, where she’s been since 2013. Rosa began selling her own handmade jewellery in 2012 but it wasn’t until 2016 that she first took the plunge and attended her first Pulse show. Since then, she has been back to Pulse and also attended Top Drawer twice.
How was it, doing your first show? Rosa: I was very nervous but choosing Pulse as my first show made a lot of sense. Firstly, it's relatively small compared to Top Drawer. Also, they don’t just show big established brands, they have a specific section for new designer/makers which means you don’t get lost in a sea of larger or more established exhibitors. It was the first retail trade event to dedicatea space to emerging creative talent. To qualify for a spot, you have to apply within the first three years of your business, which I just scraped into!
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A with Rosa Pietsch & Anita Thorpe Was it very expensive to start with? Well, as a new ‘Maker’ you pay less than you would if you were exhibiting in one of the other sections (Brands, Living, Fashion and Found) plus you don’t have to pay for everything all at once. I paid a deposit up front when I booked my spot and then the rest of the fee in a series of instalments. Also you can minimise the cost by bringing everything with you (rather than renting shelves, tables etc and other essentials from the organisers), as there are different stand types. Another great thing about being accepted as a Maker is that you have the opportunity to exhibit in the section for three years. The application process can seem a bit daunting but it’s really just like applying for a market spot. And don’t be afraid to ask if you’ve questions or need further support the guys at Pulse were very helpful and used to dealing with new exhibitors. Are there things you need in place before you apply? How did you know you’re ready? Only you know when you’re ready, and even then sometimes you just need to take the plunge and go for it! What I would say though, before you start, is to research the show and previous
exhibitors, so you have a good idea of the level and quality of fellow exhibitors' stands. Make sure you have a good online presence so there is somewhere for the organisers to see your work. Also, make sure you have a good idea of your prices before you apply.
Pricing is always a challenge for designers… I know! The rule of thumb most people use is a mark up of 2.2. But remember, you have to make sure that your wholesale price covers costs, time, materials etc otherwise there is no point doing it at all! Also remember to look at comparative competitors' products to make sure that you have a realistic price in the market place. A quick way of working it out then is: (Labour + Materials) x 2.2 = Wholesale price.
Yes, and make sure you’re happy with both prices before you apply. Retailers don’t want to sell your products for more than you sell them, what would be the point? And do you have a minimum order number? When I started, I didn’t have a minimum order at all. After 3 trade shows, I decided to make my minimum £100. The main thing to make it a realistic figure for both you and your prospective buyers. Also, don’t be scared of larger orders, just make sure you are realistic in what you can produce and deliver in the time scale. Buyers in general are more understanding because you are a new brand in the Maker’s section, but be clear if you don’t think you can ‘do’ a big order or if it would take longer to deliver. It’s far better than not being able to complete or deliver on time. What things do you need to remember when you’re talking to prospective buyers? Being presented as a small brand is a great opportunity but you have to be prepared. It is important to be honest in the way you present yourself and your brand. When planning your stand, make sure you have examples of your packaging
(if applicable) so your prospective buyers can see a desirable and sellable complete package. Also, have your pricing and product information to hand. You don’t need to have a printed catalogue. Have your contact information and an online catalogue link on something visual like a postcard, so it’s easy for people to remember you and your products and to get in touch. You’ve done 4 shows so far, you obviously think they’re worth doing. Oh yes, it was definitely worth it. The orders taken during my first show easily covered the cost of exhibiting several times over, so for me that was a great success. I got onto 12 buyers’ stock lists at the first show. It’s also a great atmosphere to speak to visitors about your products. They are an interested captive audience, and so they’re very easy to engage with. It’s not like emailing them or cold-calling them - they are there and ready to place orders. Also I reached buyers I didn’t know existed and would never have known how to contact, such as the small independent gift shops. Any other top tips? Before you apply for any show, register and go and have a look around. Then you’ll have a better idea of what’s in store, and you can have a look at exhibitors and their stands. Make a note of what looks good and works, and use this to inspire you. Don’t skimp on the time you spend on planning your display. The better prepared you are, the less likely you are to find yourself in a situation that will make you panic! And don’t try and do a trade show on your own. You don’t want to leave your stand
unmanned - everyone eventually needs to grab something to eat, or answer the call of nature, so rope in friends and family or anyone else you can get to help. Anita, as a buyer and retailer, have you anything to add to that? Anita: Yes, make sure that whoever is on a stand is informed about the products as it’s essential that everyone can field questions and can take an order. It’s unlikely that the buyer will come back later for more information so it’s important that your ‘assistants’ are as organised and professional as you. What do you think helps makes a good impression? Be approachable and friendly. Don’t sit playing with your phone as it really doesn’t help you come across as a competent professional. And you need to speak to people as they pass. Making a good connection is essential. Everyone prefers to buy from people they like, so show an interest in a potential buyer’s business and what sort of products and price ranges they sell. And what else is useful on the stand for a buyer? It’s a great idea to have all your prices on display. If your price point doesn’t fit with a buyer’s price range, it can save everyone a lot of time. And don’t worry, your product won’t be a good fit for everyone. From a buyer’s perspective, it’s important that you have a range of price points, so they can test customer response. What selection criteria do you use when choosing new products? Well first of all, I’m looking for something special that will grab my attention and that will produce a good reaction from
customers and hopefully lead to sales. I am also aware of existing gaps in the ranges I sell, which I am always looking to fill. It’s important for me to know which lines you are supplying in my area, and to whom. I don’t want to sell the same items as my competitors down the road. I like to have a clear agreement with my suppliers that they aren’t selling the same items or ranges to other stores in my area. I don’t insist on exclusivity, but I want to have that ‘uniqueness’ in the Brixton area. What is important once you’ve placed your order? As Rosa said, it’s a good idea to try and be as flexible as you can regarding order quantities. A large minimum order won’t work for everyone - your buyers may not have space to keep large amounts of stock. Also it won’t help anyone if your stock sits on the shelf for months on end. Lead times are also important. After I’ve placed an order I would expect to receive the goods within 2-3 weeks, though if your products are handmade or this is your first trade show I know that things may take a little longer. It’s a good idea to send proformas (an invoice that has to be paid before goods are delivered) for any orders
taken at the show when you get home. And you may have to chase a business for payment after you’ve invoiced them - don’t take it personally, we're all busy people. Once you have been paid, follow up with a call to see how your customer is doing with the product. It’s a good way to start building the relationship. Find out if your product has worked and if it hasn’t try and work out why. Keeping in touch with the retailer also helps you remain in the forefront of their minds - retailers deal with lots of suppliers. Are there other benefits of going to trade shows, apart from searching for new products? Well it’s a great chance to catch up with
Photos: Jonathan Dredge & Rosa Pietsch
existing suppliers, say hello and see their new lines and products. It's also a way to get a sense of upcoming trends, and what's new in the market. And it's good to remember that actually calling people and arranging to go and see them face to face is still a great way to make contact. I meet an increasing number of my suppliers that way, or through Instagram or other social media sites. Many thanks to Rosa Pietsch & Anita Thorpe of Diverse. Diverse, 390 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LF 020 7733 1488 facebook.com/diversebrixton/ instagram @diversegifts www.rosapietsch.com etsy.com/uk/shop/RosaPietsch twitter @rosapietsch
Diverse Makerhood Collaboration In 2012, Anita tried a 'Makers in the Hood' promotion for Christmas, mainly but not exclusively with Makerhood makers. “It was phenomenal – it worked really well. We got a lot of attention through the press and social media – one of the benefits of partnering with a local initiative is it creates a story.” We asked Anita to list the benefits of collaborating with Makerhood: • Giving customers what they want – they like to hear about the provenance of what they’re buying and the story behind local makers. • Press/publicity – featured makers and Makerhood spread the word through social media and press. • Helping people to learn – I enjoy helping the makers to become better business people. That makes for an easier and more profitable relationship for both parties. • Helps keeping both the makers and my business in touch with trends and needs – I can give the makers customer feedback; they give me more insight into how things are developing in the creative world. • I’m a showcase for Brixton talent – as the area gets more visitors, this is important, and it helps keep money in the local community.
• The work is unique – it’s not all over the high street; that gives my business a point of difference. • I get to make links with other businesses – for example, I had a call from a maker about another gift shop that might be interested in working with local makers in a similar way. • Positive perception of the business – partnering with local people really helps to integrate your business in the community. I often hear people referring to Diverse as “their” gift shop! • Social responsibility – it’s a way of building and giving back to the community that supports your business. The Diverse Makerhood promotion this year runs from 2 December 2017 to 6 January 2018. It’s a great opportunity to be featured in a lovely retail space with preferential commission rates. To join Makerhood, see: makerhood.com/join-makers-club.
tradeshow Deborah Colman takes the plunge Six months after the final show of my textiles course at Morley College, I did an open studio sale and received lots of nice comments and a few orders, but I was still floundering when I tried to think of what to do next to get my work “out there”. I then read about the makers section of Pulse London, a trade fair that takes place annually at Olympia. Makers is specially targeted at small designers just starting out. I sent in some images of products I’d made (cushions, bags and a chair in my fabric) and was accepted - the roller coaster of my first trade fair began.
I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single aspect of the show that wasn’t a massive learning curve. It was expensive and a lot of pressure but it forced me to progress from someone fresh out of art school with plenty of ideas but not much clue to someone who is actually running a business as a designermaker. The first vital thing I needed was high quality photos for the Pulse website. As a design student it’s all about the art-work but I quickly learnt that having publicity shots for websites and press is the most vital thing even while you’re still working on your collection. Building up a nice following on Instagram with your own gritty shots taken on your phone just isn’t enough… Luckily for me the guys @moderneccentrics did a great job and were really fun to work with at a good price!
w newbie at Pulse Then there was the stand. Should I pay more for a good position but risk exposing myself too much with not enough to show? I spent ages looking at the floor plan of the fair and threw myself at the mercy of the very helpful woman who booked me in to ask advice about the best position (I turned down the stand right in front of the entrance as just too daunting but did decide not to go for the very cheapest, a good decision as some fellow first timers found themselves stuck in a poorly lit space slightly away from the main action). Then there was how to pull together a proper collection of designs that really look streamlined and coherent and not just like a sample book of different techniques Iâ€™d tried. Pulse was a good first show to do as they have a collaboration with UAL and the group of exhibiting Makers recieved free
entry to a series of talks by the Design Trust and other experts on everything to do with setting up a design business from protecting your designs legally, pricing to how to sell at trade fairs. Those talks alone were worth a lot of the entry fee and also gave me a chance to talk to other designer-makers for advice and support. On set-up day it all took a lot longer than you can ever imagine and while some fellow exhibitors had obviously done it all before there was a lot of sharing of step-ladders, hammers and double-sided
tape for the rest of us. By the time it was done at the end of months of frantic preparation, I felt like a holiday, not 3 days of taking part in the show and trying to actually sell my work! When people ask about whether it was “worth it” doing a trade show, I think that it’s actually quite hard to quantify. I’d spent a lot of money and worked hard to prepare so when Pulse opened I was determined to be shameless about getting people to come and look at my work. I’d had loads of postcards printed with my designs which I gave to everyone who so much as looked in my direction (even though I felt like a waiter in a tourist holiday resort touting for business by handing out fliers!). I reasoned that even if they didn’t come to the stand they could at least keep the card and look at my website later (400 people did look
at the site during the show). I also made sure to talk to people about the artists’ studios I work from and the ideas behind the designs so they knew they’d be buying something creative and original, as that’s what I reckon we Makers had over the bigger more commercial companies. I did meet many people on my stand whom I wouldn’t have been able to contact otherwise. When I looked round the fair at what was on show I realised that I’m aiming more at interior shops, galleries and interior designers whereas Pulse has a lot of gift and stationery products. So that was a lesson learned about who my target market should be and this has helped me become focused. In terms of numbers I definitely haven’t made back the cost of doing the fair YET although I have sold to some shops and I’m in talks with a stately home about selling to them. On the plusside I feel like doing the fair forced me to up my game. Taking part helped me take my presentation skills to the next level – a huge boost for my work. Would I do it again? Absolutely! deborahcolmandesigns.com, instagram: @debs.colman
Photos: Jonathan Dredge & Deborah Colman
things to remem
As makers, we don’t always have a spare pot of cash to commission professional photographers for a studio product shoot. But it is very important to show your work in the best light, something that Gabriela Szulman (artist and maker) and Jonathan Dredge (artist and photographer) are well aware of. Together, they have put together a list of the key things to consider to ensure you get the best results in a DIY shoot. LIGHT Always try to shoot in natural light – not direct sunlight - ideally in front of a northfacing window with soft, indirect light. Once you find a good spot in your home or studio, take several photos the day before you’re planning to shoot so that you know what time is best for the light. There’s no point in spending all morning setting up only to discover that the light has gone by the time you’re ready
to start. Place your product so that the window light comes in at a 90-degree angle to it. If you find the light is too harsh, you can hang a piece of sheer white cloth or tracing paper over the window to diffuse it and distribute evenly. Be prepared to get rid of shadows and illuminate details: make a DIY reflector from foamboard or white card, which you can then stand on the opposite side of your product, standing straight and facing the window in order to bounce the light back on the item. Make sure all your artificial lighting is off, as this often gives an unpleasant yellow tinge to photos and will also distort the real colour of your products. BACKGROUND Two ways of going with this: if you need a plain white background it’s best not to rely on white walls but use instead a piece of white fabric (well ironed as otherwise the creases will show), thick white card or foam board. This is useful if you need to have images that will be used as cut-outs by the press, as well as for your web shop listings. Otherwise just having a white background can make a very dull picture, and a way to add interest is by placing your product against surfaces that enhance it by providing texture and/or colour. There are of course photo boards or replica backdrops in different finishes
mber when shooting your own images that you can buy online, but if you want to create your own these are some of the things you can use: . Large rustic tiles in a matt finish . Patterned giftwrap or wallpaper . Coloured linen, mounting board and paper . Old scaffolding or pallet planks, floorboards Keep in mind that the main function of the background is to set off your products by adding texture and colour so beware of creating a backdrop so interesting that it overwhelms what you’re trying to show. It’s a good idea to keep backgrounds light and neutral, as well as stylistically similar to your products. Once you’ve found something that works well, keep it consistent and use it across your product line.
COMPOSITION The Rule of Thirds is extremely useful: split your frame into three equal parts both vertically and horizontally, and place your main object slightly off-centre, roughly lined up with one of the verticals. The grid on your camera/phone will help with this. If you’re styling a flatlay (when you’re shooting items directly from above) you can use the points where the lines meet to place the items that are to be the focus of attention. It’s also important to ensure that all visible horizontal and
vertical lines such as floors, edges, corners and other architectural details are straight within the frame. Always look through the lens to check that your composition works, and if not move things around or change the angle of the camera. Threedimensional objects that stand up are best photographed straight-on, whereas those that lie flat such as jewellery, books, cards, coasters, etc., are better photographed from above as flatlays. Consider the empty space in your composition: negative space is as important as the shapes you’re photographing, plus it’s also useful to have a blank section where you can add text if necessary. PROPS AND STYLING It’s easy to get carried away with props, so do bear in mind what their function is: they are the supporting characters that create context, indicate
Split Traditions Ross Belton All photos: Jonathan Dredge
function and scale, and complement your products. Make sure that the props you use are smaller and less attentiongrabbing than what you’re selling: when people look at your image they need to be absolutely clear what the star of the picture is. Use items that relate to your product both in terms of function and style: for example if you are an artist, use art materials and tools as props; if your product is very clean-cut and modern don’t accessorize it with vintage objects. Props are also useful to indicate scale and suggest where your product would be placed in a domestic setting. Think like a set designer and gather a selection of objects that you can try in your compositions: some may relate to your inspiration, some to how you make your products, and some to how you would expect them to be used. Two
useful stand-by things are crumpled pieces of fabric in soft colours and natural elements such as flowers and leaves. FORMATS These days we need images in lots of different formats: square for web shops and Instagram, landscape for Twitter, portrait for Pinterest. Think of where you’ll use your photos and shoot them in all the formats you’ll need as this is a far better option than cropping them after. When you are framing your product, take a landscape and portrait of each product, and an image that you can crop into a square. That way you are prepared for every eventuality. When it comes to sizing, keep everything as large as possible – once you’ve reduced the size or resolution of an image, you can’t go back. There is nothing worse than a pixelated picture – it just makes you look unprofessional. Jonathan Dredge will be delivering a makers club session on product photography at home in November, and will be offering a discount to Makerhood members for shoots, retouch and design work. You can contact him at: email@example.com
questions What first sparked the idea of Makerhood? The idea of Makerhood came from Karen Martin and Kristina Glushkova, two of the other directors. The intention was to bring together in one place a whole load of people who made things in or around Brixton. Back then in 2011 there were no local makers' markets and Brixton Village was at a very early experimental stage. We just held meetings in various cafes around Brixton and invited people to come along - we were surprised by how many creative people appeared! We worked with Brixton Market Traders Federation to help set up the first makers' market, which then developed into a regular event. Six years later, Brixton is a very different place. And Makerhood has also developed - we now cover the whole of Lambeth.
with kim winter
patterns in unexpected places, like the marks left by lots footprints on Windrush Square, or leaf prints on pavements. I also get a lot of ideas from mistakes. Often something doesn't turn out as I hoped but an unexpected result sets me off on another path. It's one big learning experience!
What is your creative outlet? I am a textile artist mainly working with wet felting, indigo shibori dyeing, and ecoprinting. I buy scarves and garments from charity shops, jumble sales and eBay and overdye with indigo or ecoprint on them to create one-off upcycled pieces. I love rummaging in charity shops or jumble sales looking for garments to upcycle. It’s more interesting for me, as each piece is different – I’m not buying a job lot of white scarves and trying to make them all different. And my customers know they’re getting something unique, the charity shop benefits, and so does the environment if I can save more textiles from going to landfill. So it’s a win-win.
What do you like about living in Lambeth and what first drew you there? Initially it was the cost. When I was a student I lived in north London but after I left college it was too expensive so I moved across the river. I lived at the Oval for a while but hated the Northern line so moved to Brixton, where I could always get a seat on the Victoria line! I've now lived in Brixton for 30 years and I still love it. It's as much about attitude as place.
What inspires you? Most of the inspiration for my work comes from nature, of which there is a surprising amount in London! I also like finding
What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Lambeth? Did you know there's a windmill in Brixton? I'm on the executive committee of the Friends of Windmill Gardens, which campaigned for the restoration of Brixton Windmill, which happened in 2010-11. We now open the windmill for free tours from Easter to October and arrange other community events in the park - we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the windmill last year. We grind flour regularly, which we sell on open days and in local retailers. Now we're working on plans to build an education centre to expand our education programme for both schools and adults and support the windmill for the next 200 years!
Makerhood Free Zipcar Membership We are delighted to announce that Zipcar and Makerhood have teamed up to give members a great offer on joining. Zipcar is the UK’s largest pay as you go car club giving members access to wheels when they want them. You can take a Zipcar from as little as £4.75 an hour or a Zipvan from £7.92 an hour (prices include insurance, 60 miles of free fuel, and the congestion charge). All members are eligible for a FREE 1 year Zipcar for business account (normally £99), one free driver (£10 each) and a 2 hour free test drive. Join Makerhood to take this up:
Offer valid for the month of October.
Welcome to the first issue of Makerhood magazine! As a showcase for makers in Lambeth, our aim is to bring together makers, businesses and t...
Published on Oct 7, 2017
Welcome to the first issue of Makerhood magazine! As a showcase for makers in Lambeth, our aim is to bring together makers, businesses and t...