The other week I went down to Cambridge for the weekend. I spent time catching up with my parents, doing work and then on the Sunday I headed to Top Drawer in London. The event was held at Olympia, it took us about 30 minutes to get there form Kings Cross.
Top Drawer takes place in January and September, it’s a trade event that gives businesses the chance to stay ahead of the latest trends and launches. The event showcases over 1000 British and international suppliers and designer-makers within fashion, well-being, gifts and home sectors.
This was the first trade show I’ve attended. You’re probably wondering why I went. Well, about two months ago I started my online boutique, Indiecana – you’ve probably heard me talking about it lots over on Twitter or you may have seen the post about my lifestyle boutique.
The event was was well organised and not at all stressful. It was easy to identify each section (Top Drawer, Home and Craft) and there were staff knocking about to point you in the right direction.
I made my way though the event and spoke to as many small, medium and large business owners as possible. Not only didn’t I want to get an idea of potential stock for my shop but I also wanted to find out which business models were popular as well as gaining more confidence in talking to people.
As an introvert I don’t always find it easy to approach new people, however it’s something that is essential in many aspects of business. After talking to a couple of people I was well on my way and didn’t feel nervous throughout the rest of the day.
I throughly enjoyed browsing the rows of designers and makers. Everyone was friendly and passionate about their products. It was a real pleasure to find out more about the products as well as the people behind the brand. I think it’s very important to see products in real life before you make a decision to stock them in your shop. It gives you the chance to look closely at the quality and get a sure idea of how well they will fit with your target audience.
When you go to an event like Top Drawer it’s important to take a pack of business cards, a notepad and of course, a strong bag. You’ll be handing out your card to everyone you speak to and be ready to file away the ones you receive. If you really hit it off with someone be sure to make a special note on the back of their business card (you must have a pen) to ensure you don’t forget.
There were lots of talks and fashion shows throughout the day. I managed to catch one by chance and although I wasn’t there to stock Indiecana with clothes it was very enjoyable to see. I suggest you file in some time throughout the day to drop by the main stage and see what’s going on.
On a final point, there were lots of really good local food and coffee stalls dotted around Olympia. I was impressed with the high quality of food on offer, not something you usually expect from these types of events.
I hope you’ve found my overview of the trade show useful. If you have any questions then please feel free to leave them in the comment section or drop me a message on Twitter.
Have you been to Top Drawer?