Go La La goes la la at Top Drawer 2018

Having been trading for just over 18 months, Go La La! is fairly new to this trade show malarkey; we’ve exhibited at PG Live twice (2016 was our launch show) and Spring Fair, and plenty of people suggested that Top Drawer is a good show to do, so a little later than we should have we booked our stand (ZA59 in the Gift area to be precise).

Top Drawer takes place at Olympia in Kensington, London and is one of the UK’s leading retail trade events for lifestyle buyers.  As a result there are some beautifully designed and crafted trade stands brimming with amazing products – for me The Sex Pistols – 1977: The Bollocks Diaries coffee table book was the top item on display.

Getting to the venue for us is easy to from Glastonbury – the coach outside our house runs into Hammersmith and then it’s just a short taxi ride to the venue; we would have walked but laden down with so many bags it was impossible.  We travelled up on Friday, anticipating 2 days to set up, but once we had actually found our stand in the cavernous building, Laura painted it in about an hour – I just watched the paint dry (about an hour), and the velcroed shelves took us another hour to put up; so, by early evening we were in the pub; and then had most of Saturday to explore West London.

We weren’t turning cartwheels when we saw our stand, but that is no-one’s fault but our own; we had booked late, and there was very little choice left, so we ended up with a 2m x 1.5m stand, which as you can picture is a bit boxy and uninviting – even worse when we measured it, as it was actually 2m x 1.46m – in the sneered words of Johnny Rotten “it’s a swindle”.  We were probably conned out of 50 quid by the measurements – though I’ve not drilled down into it ;-).  Our stand also looked a bit cluttered to us (it’s amazing how much stuff you can chuck into it, and that we did), although others said that it looked fine.

Finding somewhere to position yourself on a trade stand like that is tricky – I felt I was always in the way wherever I stood, but I guess that’s nothing new!  I personally felt it seemed like a bit of a backwards step for us, as we really would have liked a 3m x 1m stand which looks more stylish and demonstrates our excellently designed and presented cards perfectly.

We launched 3 new ranges at Top Drawer (Blunt Instruments, Nice Little Ditties and Laugh a Minute), as well as additions to our bestselling Bawdy Banter range, and a totally revamped Rules of Engagement.  We also had our non-humour range, Found in Translation which we released in December.   Feedback for all ranges was extremely positive, and we managed to attract several lovely new stockists as well as some great potential leads, as well as renewed orders from previous customers.  It is always satisfying when you see people stop to look at your products and burst out laughing.  One lady was actually crying with laughter at Nice Little Ditties, while explaining HRT and the word Cumbubble to a German distributor was a challenge I left to Laura.

The Greeting Card industry is a friendly one and we had great and creative neighbours in our area; these lovely people included Memelou, Arch & Ivy, Paper Sole and Kapelki Art who kept us smiling with silliness and laughter (as well as being very professional with the customers of course).  We also managed to catch up with old friends from previous shows: Jelly Armchair, Papagrazi, Pabuku, Sarah Lovell Art and Objectables.  All of these publishers have created a wide range of cards and some really fantastic offerings to appeal to the most classy and discerning retailers.

It was also interesting to talk to 2 old pros in the area, Penny of Penny Lindop Designs and Ge Feng of Forever Cards; both have been in the industry for 20 years, and had some useful knowledge to impart; they also told me how Trade Shows have evolved over the years, and unfortunately how much more difficult the industry is now.  Ge was also hilariously funny and kept me entertained with jokes and quips throughout.

Weirdly there was one publisher nearby appeared to have a severe allergy to the show.    Despite having a beautifully presented stand, they turned up late and went home early on the first 2 days and didn’t even materialise on the final one.  They made little attempt to socialise with anyone around them, and were pretty non-communicative with customers.  I assume they paid for their place at the show and had money to squander.

At the moment, we haven’t decided on whether to return to Top Drawer; on balance we think we preferred Spring Fair, and we would also like to trial other shows like Glasgow or Harrogate.  Shows are very expensive and time consuming at the relatively young stage of our business we’re not sure if we can spare the time or the money, so ask us again in a few months.

Michelle and Rob – Memelou

Lara of Arch and Ivy

Jenny and Susan of Paper Sole

Liz and Cat – Jelly Armchair

Tim of Objectables

Emily Brooks

One of our well received new ranges – Blunt Instruments

By |2018-03-20T07:26:29+00:00January 18th, 2018|General, News, Trade Fairs|

Top Drawer London – 12th to 16th January 2018

We love exhibiting at Trade Shows, and next week will see us travelling to London for Top Drawer, which takes place between 14th and 16th January at Olympia.

We (especially Laura) would do a trade show every month if we could, but for newish publishers they are very expensive, with the cost of travel and accommodation also adding to the cost of the show itself.  It would also mean being away from our business for long periods of time, so (for now) we can only manage a couple each year, and for 2018 Top Drawer is one of our choices.

Top Drawer is the UK’s leading retail trade event for creative lifestyle buyers; and being a new show for us results in an exciting prospect as we have the chance to showcase our products to buyers from both the UK and internationally – hopefully many of whom haven’t seen us before; and we also hope to reconnect with previous buyers.

We have been working extremely hard over the past few months, and have a plethora of new card designs to show to potential purchasers – we have developed four new ranges, as well as adding to our bestselling Bawdy Banter range, and in addition there is also one totally revamped range which we are extremely pleased with.

Alongside meeting new people (both customers and other folk from the industry), Top Drawer will also give us the chance to catch up with old friends from the industry that we have befriended at previous shows, and who are also exhibiting here, and that adds to the fun, although it’s hard work too; it’s daunting showing your product (especially as we are not natural sales people), with long days spent on your feet, and with just the two of us, we are on the stand pretty much the whole time; but of course we don’t mind this as it’s exciting as well as challenging, and we thrive on that.

Anyway, if you are visiting the show, you can find Go La La on Stand ZA59 in the Gift Section, please pop by and say hello.

By |2018-01-04T18:06:50+00:00January 4th, 2018|News, Trade Fairs|

Go La La! at Spring Fair 2017

Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham is one heck of a massive event, and this year it took place from 5th to 9th February.

Billed as the UK’s No. 1 home and gift show for the retail industry it is spread across 20 Halls and showcases everything there is to offer to the Gift trade, and  this year Go La La!  was exhibiting for the first time; a somewhat daunting prospect for us as relative newbies, and with only one other show under our belts, but unphased by the prospect, we spent several months planning; refining our ranges, designing our stand, and promoting ourselves, before cramming our cards, our shelves, paint, tools, clothes, an ottoman, food, laptops, 2 stools, a stepladder and finally ourselves into the Mini.  It is surprising what will fit into a car of that size, yet the faithful old girl managed to take the lot….and us 120 miles to Birmingham, without complaint, and we arrived at lunchtime on Friday.

Go La La stall before work begins

The Go La La! stand before work began

The first person we saw on arrival was Warren Lomax of Progressive Greetings.  PG had their stall dead opposite, and Warren was a great help and very supportive throughout the show, as were his colleagues Sue and Tracey, and of course the endless supply of sweets, as well as the free drinks at the end of the day were a welcome relief.

I’d never been to the NEC before, although Laura went along last year to check it out, and it really is massive; besides the exhibition halls there are sprawling car parks, hotels, restaurants, shops and concert venues: Donny Osmond had a show on Thursday, and local band Black Sabbath was playing its final concert on Saturday, and the contrast in fans was amusing; although there was a predominantly older crowd for each everyone was in pink and glitter one night, and black leather and denim the other…I’ll leave you to decide which was which.

Away from this, we were in Hall 3 in the New Debut Card section, part of a special scheme to help GCA member publishers try out Spring Fair for the first time, and it was an ideal place to be situated.

All the Debut stands were a 3m x 1m traditional shell scheme with white wooden walls.  We spent Friday afternoon painting ours with Farrow and Ball paint (only the best will do) and on Saturday attached our shelves of the same colour, before dressing the stand and putting up our cards etc. It looked very sophisticated and stylish and the shelves were pretty straight.  They didn’t fall down either, which was an added bonus!

Our next-door neighbour was the lovely Katie Phythian and her partner Mike, of Katie Phythian Design, with their delightful hand finished cards; and we couldn’t have hoped for better neighbours; funny, friendly, supportive and easy to get on with.

It wasn’t long before we’d hooked up with old friends from PG Live 2016 and the Ladder Club (namely the girls from Jelly Armchair and Chocogreetings) and during the show made friends with many other members of the GCA on the stands around us (Meany Bo Beany; Lucy Truman, Papa Grazi, Elaara, and Obody Designs deserve special mention).  It really is a friendly industry.

Katie Phythian at Spring Fair

Katie Phythian Design

Jelly Armchair at Spring Fair 2017

Cat and Jelly Armchair

Chocogreetings at Spring Fair 2017

Regina and Indra of Chocogreetings

Spring Fair 2017

Nick and Meany Bo Beany

The Show started on Sunday morning; as were staying in Digbeth (near the Bullring), we caught the train in…although didn’t realise that the first one to the NEC on a Sunday was at 8.30, and the show started at 9.00; nevertheless it was an efficient 10 minute service followed by a short walk from the station to Hall 3, and we made it to our stand with minutes to spare.

The Show was very good to us.  We had set ourselves what we considered to be realistic goals, but of course being our first show we didn’t meet all of them, yet we far surpassed others, in particular we have some very positive, exciting and encouraging leads to follow up in the next few days/weeks.   We also made sales to some lovely small shops across the country, including our first shops in Wales and Scotland, which was one of our aims.

Go la La at Spring Fair

Look at those fantastic Go La La Cards

I don’t think the Show was as busy as I expected overall, and this was the general view of those that we spoke to afterwards; some Halls seemed exceedingly quiet on the Wednesday and Thursday.  On Wednesday some of the bigger buyers were around, but the final day was painfully slow, although we did make sales and it wasn’t without its merits.

By the end of the week our feet ached and our backs ached but there was a great feeling of achievement and we were invigorated by the extremely positive comments from many of the big Card Buyers – even those like John Lewis and Wilko who we knew we wouldn’t be right for popped by and said hello.  So many loved our product and their feedback was valuable.  Our humour cards did cause a bit of a stir, but there is nothing better than seeing people belly laugh at them, or watch their shoulders shake with amusement, and that is fantastic to observe.

The Go La La buzz

We were dreading dismantling and taking down the stand, then loading the car; but this was much easier and less time consuming than we expected; Laura fetched the car and got it to the back door promptly, while I cleared up.  Loading was straight forward and we were off site in just over an hour.

We’d love to return next year…we’ll be evaluating the return on all our leads over the next 6 weeks or so, but overall it was a very worthwhile and enjoyable event!


By |2017-02-14T08:15:06+00:00February 13th, 2017|General, News, Trade Fairs|