I was in Dublin last week where I exhibited at Showcase Ireland in the Rds. It was a really enjoyable four days, I made lots of business contacts and also caught up with other craftspeople and makers.
Being my first time exhibiting at this trade show I really didn’t know what to expect. Now that I’ve “been there, done that” I thought it might be helpful to write about it and give some tips and hints for anyone considering exhibiting next year.
Firstly, applying for your stand. There are a number of ways you can go about this, the two familiar to me are applying to the crafts council or your local enterprise board. The Crafts Council have stands available in an area known as Creative Island. This space is for Irish makers only and I think only members of the crafts council are eligible to apply. The closing date was in April, I hadn’t realised it was this early so missed the deadline.
The other route is through your local enterprise board. I applied to the South Cork Enterprise Board, who were extremely friendly and helpful. I was successful in my application for one of their stands in the balcony area. They pay a percentage of the stand cost which was great as it would have been a big investment to come up with the full stand price.
As well as this they provided workshops to help us prepare for Showcase. These were invaluable and I learnt so much about what to expect and how to prepare. We did lots of work on our price lists and point of sale material for potential buyers. Having never done a trade show before I wasn’t familiar with how to lay out a comprehensive buyer friendly price list.
It’s also important to plan how you will dress your stand before you make the trip to Dublin. I decided on putting up wallpaper to cover the bare white partition walls. I also got some glass display cases to show my jewellery. The stand I had was 2 metres x 2 metres which made it quite deep. I wanted to draw people into the stand so decided to position one of the cabinets at the entrance and the other at the back corner.
The hall is open from 8am Saturday morning to set up, I would advise getting there early! You would be surprised how long it takes to unload the car, prepare the stand and then display your products. Also the earlier you arrive the quieter the hall. We were able to take up space outside the stand to assemble cabinets and sort stock. Had we left it later we would have been confined to the 2 metre stand as we would be in the way of everyone else setting up.
Once you have your stand set up on Saturday be sure to get some rest, you’re in for a very busy four days! I hadn’t realised how tiring it is to be on your feet meeting and talking to people. Also bring plenty of water, I could feel my voice going by Wednesday!
I’m making it sound like a tough few days but really once you’re prepared you can relax and enjoy the buzz of the show. As well as meeting buyers be sure to talk to other makers. One of the most valuable things for me was chatting to other people in the trade. Working on your own can be isolating so it’s great to meet with other jewellers and exchanged ideas and swop contacts.
I hope that gives you an idea of what to expect at Showcase and all going well maybe I’ll see you there next year!