March was an incredibly busy month and I am relieved that I coped with both the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and the big international craft trade show in Cologne being so close together.
I completely surprised myself, normally, I would have been a nervous wreck: hair falling out; breaking out in a strange rash; worrying about every single detail and planning for every possible crisis scenario – a throwback to my days as a conference producer.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival
The Yarn Festival was really good fun though, it was so laid back and so well organised, I have to congratulate the organisers and the volunteers on their success, most of whom were from the Purple Pig Cafe knitting group in Tollcross, Edinburgh.
There wasn’t much time to reflect, as I had to re-focus almost immediately for another event which was taking place in Cologne.
h+h Cologne is an annual trade show for the leading European yarn and craft supplies manufacturers to showcase their new products and to take orders from retailers from all over the world. It is a very corporate affair with beautifully themed and very glamorous stands.
This is the third year that I have been organising the Lotus Yarns stand at the Cologne show, but this year I only had to fly from Scotland which made things a lot easier – no jet lag!
I would describe myself more of an East/West business culture facilitator, my Mandarin Chinese is not brilliant, but I understand Chinglish and international marketing and business practices.
I needed to be on the stand practically the whole 3 days, I knew the products inside out, because I have been working with them for the last three years, so it wasn’t difficult to demonstrate and explain the collection to potential buyers. I brought a long most of the projects that I had made for myself to the show, this really helped them visualize the potential.
It is not easy to build any brand, but when a company is of a Chinese origin, it immediately faces intensive scrutiny and questioning, which is totally understandable, considering the bad publicity China gets from the press, sometimes justified, but quite often it is just because of the “made in China” label that makes us prejudiced, before we have given it the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this is one of many reasons why Chinese cashmere companies are keen to buy traditional but struggling European spinning mills.
Insight into the yarn business
Taking an exhibition stand at these international trade shows is very expensive and especially if you have to make the journey from China, but visibility and accessibility are both very important for any company big and small. Customers need to see and be able to touch samples and meet the company’s representatives.
Helping Lotus Yarns, does have its benefits, as I get to test out some of the beautiful yarns and from a personal perspective, I get insight into the international yarn business.
New distributors and patterns
It is good to see that Lotus Yarns is becoming more well known and to see old customers come back and re-order. Just seeing the faces and reactions of the show’s attendees when they touch the yarns is enough to make me feel that it has been worth the effort and stress. This year, Lotus Yarns has signed up Schmeichelgarne to distribute in Germany and Karen Noe Designs to distribute in Denmark. In fact, http://karen-noe.dk/ and her design team have come up with a truly beautiful pattern collection, which uses the complete range of Lotus Yarns. The patterns are currently in Danish, but will be translated into English later this year.
Sourcing products for Be Inspired Fibres
The show was a great place to source products and I have my eye on a few new brands I will be stocking. But firstly, I need to find a studio/office space, because I really need to have a bright space to showcase the yarns and to organise special events.