Case Study:
Lisa Weller: Go & See – Scotland’s Trade Fair Autumn

This September, Emergents supported Caithness based Designer Lisa Weller of Haven House Art to visit Scotland’s Trade Fair Autumn in Glasgow through our Go and See scheme. Read Lisa’s report of her time at this event:

Lisa Weller, Haven House Art
Go & See Visit – Scotland’s Trade Fair Autumn, 17 – 18 September 2017
SECC, Glasgow 

I’ve just returned from a visit to Glasgow to visit the Autumn Trade Fair. This was my first time ever at a trade fair. I have been trading as an artist since 2009 and thus far have grown my business by selling online, at local events and in local outlets and galleries, mainly in Caithness. This year I have been working on expanding my product range to include a wider range of items such as mugs, prints, cushions, bags and coasters. This means that my work is now accessible and ready for a wider customer base so a visit to a trade fair was necessary to discover how they work in order for me to be ready next year to take this next step into expanding into more outlets.

The knowledge and insight I gained from the trip was invaluable. I feel more confident now and know exactly what I need to do to ensure that not only my products are the best they can be but that my stand during the two day event is eye-catching, attractive and professional. I won’t be so intimidated when I do the Spring Fair and it was lovely to meet and chat to other creatives who are further along the business path than me.

Lisa Weller

The venue was a good size and it was fantastic to see so many varied businesses and trades being represented. It was also good to see that there are other visual artists who are doing similar things to me, which is encouraging, but also that no one is doing exactly the same. I have different products and naturally my own style and subject matter. It was also great to see some well-known, established brands like Sheila Fleet and Pocket Mountains exhibiting alongside the smaller, up and coming businesses. There really was something for everyone.

I chatted to a lovely lady from a jewellery business called Twiggd. Her display caught my eye because it was so simple and her items were particularly stylised giving her a strong identity. Tara was very helpful and patiently answered my many questions! In particular I wanted to know what system she implements if a customer places an order on the day and what she would recommend for a minimum order. She answered in regards to her business but it made me reflect on what I would do.

Another lady who was very helpful was Katy Mai ceramics whose stand again stood out for me for its simplicity…and the fact she had used pebbles to display her lovely jewellery. Obviously a sea lover like myself! Katy was in the Launch zone of the exhibition and has only done a couple of other trade fairs but she was very encouraging and said to just go for it!

Wandering around the exhibition I could see the many different ways that these businesses were exhibiting their products. I can take some of these ideas and adapt them to suit my products. I like the idea of stacking crates that can give height to a display without being too blocky and I can see that fishing wire is going to be my best friend when it comes to hanging prints. Generally the idea is to showcase the best of your products and to keep things simple. I’ll try to remember less is more when it comes to display.

As I have also completed one of Patricia Van Den Akker’s virtual online courses on pricing I feel more confident in this area too, Because of this I now know how to price my products and ensure that I am making a profit. Before doing that course it was all guess work and making it up as I went along. This means I am more than ready and eager to do my first trade fair.

I really am grateful for the opportunity to visit this trade fair and I am excited for next year when I get to be part of it myself. As much as I love living in Caithness I know that I need to travel to tap into all the opportunities that are available in Scotland. I look forward to meeting all the lovely people again who were so helpful and I look forward to meeting lots of lovely new customers.

Lisa Weller, September 2017
Haven House Art