Last week ended with a sort of hectic whistle-stop trip to London, we headed down at a ridiculously early time on Friday morning and spent a wonderfully sunny day wandering around Kensington, Hyde Park, visiting the V&A and taking in some of the sights.
The main reason for the London trip was the Liberty Best of British Open Call on the Saturday. I’d signed up for the event in April, booked our tickets and sorted out a cheap night at the Hilton in Paddington (Pro tip, lastminute.com do great ‘secret hotel’ deals where you can get a swish hotel for around £95/night).
Now, being honest about it, I wasn’t holding out much hope of making it through to being actually stocked in Liberty, but there’s always a chance, right? And it’s these chances that make your business grow, you just have to take them and make the best of them! However, when we were last in London we noticed that Liberty had a room where Finest Imaginary jewellery would’ve sat quite nicely. It was full of trinkets and reasonably priced gifty things, so what the hell, there was definitely scope for my things to be stocked!
However, when we went and took a look around the store on Friday we noticed that room had been changed.. erk!
I’d been working towards this event, too, getting new packaging sorted out, creating a sort of press-release style introduction, making big considerations about my branding & prices. If anything, having this event to work towards has made my really consider where I want to take my business and what I need to do to get there!
I joined the queue at 9am, the doors didn’t open until 10am and yet I was still approximately 250th in the (already wrapped around the building) queue. Crazy! Adam stayed with me until we got to the point of going inside the building and up the stairs. It was thrilling to see how many people had come along, and all the different things that they had (homewares, artwork, jewellery, handbags, stationery).
The queue was pretty intense, I think that Women’s Accessories had the largest number of people so other ‘areas’ kept getting pulled out of the queue early. I ended up being seen at around 14.30pm I think, something like that anyway… We got ushered into a holding area where we signed up ready to be called when the panel for our items was available. I’ve got to say, all the Liberty staff did an amazing job! They provided refreshments (I had a vitamin water!) and the event was very well organised.
I met with just one person, other panels had 2-3 people but I think they were trying their hardest to get through the Women’s Accessories so had split some of the panels up. I wasn’t too nervous, the whole time I’d just been telling myself that it is what it is, there isn’t really anything I could’ve said to ‘sell’ my products… really, they should sell themselves! The person I met was very gracious and liked my jewellery, but, as I’d thought, said that since the room where I’d seen them being had gone that there was no natural place in the store for them any more. The only other jewellery section in Liberty at the moment is a place for very fine jewellery, definitely not what my things are!
So there you go, definitely an interesting Saturday! I plan on visiting the open call next time but with different products that would fit in with the store, you never know :)
- Scope out the store beforehand, had I been able to visit the store a few months ago then I’d have realised that the room had gone and would’ve had chance to take some of my other items instead – c’est la vie!
- Be organised. You only have 3 minutes with the panel, don’t spend 2 of those minutes getting all your crap out of a suitcase. I took two of my new packaging boxes but had my jewellery in clear plastic grip seal bags so I could just have them out on the table in a few seconds.
- Take business cards! Not only do you need to give Liberty one if they want to stock your products, but you’re in the queue with people who might be really interested in you..!
- Get chatty, you’re in that queue a LONG time so ask what other people have brought, how they’ve been preparing etc.
- TAKE WATTTERRRR! Jesus, it gets warm on those stairs!
- Spiel-schmeel. I didn’t prepare a 3-minute-lecture on Finest Imaginary products. Hell no, that’s not what my brand is about. I winged it, and for me it’s definitely the best way. If I’d had to memorise some speech or other and ended up forgetting a sentence and getting flustered, well, that’d be dull…
- Don’t get down hearted if you don’t make it, the chances of getting through to the next round are crazy. Take it in your stride, make the best of the experience and don’t forget that you can only fail if you stop trying.