Monday, March 26, 2007

Home from the fair.....

Aaaaaah, home at last and into my own bed, but returning a very happy bunny having had the most amazing few days down at the Country Living Fair! This is my second attempt at this post, I sat last night for almost 2 hours typing out this huge post with loads of pictures, only for it to disappeared into thin air, bloody blogger, so here goes attempt no. 2!
The cars were rammed full on Tuesday night as well as a roof box and we thankfully had a more successful start than last year (the battery in my car was flat- picture it, me having kittens and a major panic - not good!). We headed off down to the "big smoke" and were setting up by 8.30am. We painted the stall again this year, trusty F&B, it makes a huge difference as our customers always comment on how much we stand out from the others that don't paint. We were a lot better prepared for it all this year so I think that's a big reason why we enjoyed it so much more, plus knowing what's in front of you is a huge help! Even though you get 12 hours to set up, it's still never enough, we were still titivating by 8pm and had lots to do on opening morning!
I had the help of my friends Ann-Marie, Ali and my sister Nicola, so between us all we made a fab team over the four days. Thusday and Friday were pretty busy, but nothing could have prepared us for the madness of Saturday, it was soooo busy but totally fantastic! I also met a few blog friends, including my cyber twin Rachel, more on that another day! So thank you to you all for coming and introducing yourselves and purchasing a little bit of Primrose Hill, it was lovely to put faces to the blogs at last!
The best bit for me about the fair is getting to chat to all of our customers, many returning from last year or having seen us at other fairs, often to buy something for themselves as they'd previously bought for friends or vice versa. They love chatting away about our adventures in the country, doing up the "shack" and about our brood of chooks, I even had some interesting chats about our problems with the mink! But the best bit of all was that so many people have commented on the quality of our hand made products, head and shoulders above others in the same game. Now I'm not one to blow my own trumpet, but receiving a compliment like that is just fab, it means that all those hours of hard work that go into designing and making our products special has really paid off, so thank you all for that, it really does mean a lot to me.
So many of our products sold out very quickly, especially the little china cups and saucers filled with violas and spring bulbs, they recieved so many lovely comments! I had plonked some branches of flowering currant into a jug on one of the shelves, the heat of the hall had brought the flowers out and they looked stunning! If I'd had a £1 for every person that wanted to buy them I'd be a very rich girl! Why is it that people always want what they can't have? As you can imagine, the pottery went down a storm too, the fact that it is completely hand made and hand painted gives it a very rustic, organic feel and each piece is completely individual, one customer has already commented on how she loves her mug! As is always the way, I only got a very quick chance to look around on Sunday afternoon (to buy some sausages actually!) and chat to other stall holders. I was so pleased when I found out that Hume Sweet Hume had won the Best Stand Award, I feel they truely deserved it, they design and make the most amazing knitwear collection from hats, scarves and bags to cardigans, cushions and purses. The girls come all the way down from a tiny island in Orkney and exhibit at both the London and Scotland Fair, so by the time I got to their stand on Sunday afternoon it was looking a little bare! (sorry I don't have a decent photo of their stand on the first day as that would have shown it at it's best!) The girls make the most wonderful little brooches that look like thistle heads, they had had this made into a stencil and also a beautifully handwritten slogan "handmade in Orkney". This had been hand painted all over the walls of the stand and gave it a really special touch, but you had to look closely to notice it. I think it's the little details like this that make you stand out from the rest. They also took the time to display their wares nicely on painted and aged shelving, so many of the clothing companies just roll in the clothes rails and off they go.
A lot of people probably don't "get" why they won - to me it's quite simple - they are what Coutry Living Magazine is all about. They are a small rural business based in probably one of the most remote places in Scotland, yet they have succeeded in running a successful business from there. They could have quite easily chosen to stay on the mainland but they didn't, they returned to the little island that was home and set up their business in the old Fish & Chip shop - how fab is that? Also, every piece of their work is completely hand made, nothing on their stand is bought in to fluff it up (unlike myself!), even down to the buttons they use, they are pebbles collected from the beach with two holes drilled into them - you don't get much more original than that. Also, they employ a team of what I call "little sewing ladies", so by doing this they are supporting what is probably a very fragile economy on a tiny island in the Orkney Isles. Well done girls, I think you totally deserved it.
So, now that the fair is over, it's time to get back into work, it would be so easy to just have a couple of weeks pottering around, but we've got to hit the ground running I'm afraid! The website needs to be updated with all our new products that we launched at the fair, plus I've got loads of orders to get out the door now - no rest for the wicked! I am looking forward to getting to spend a bit of time in the garden though, it has been seriously neglected - but at least the front door is looking particularly fetching at the moment as all of my display pots are flowering away, I'll show you a picture of them all tomorrow!

L x


Ragged Roses said...

So pleased for you that it all went off so successfully! Your stall looked gorgeous, if only Sussex was nearer to Scotland, would have loved to have been there. Glad you enjoyed it too! Hope you manage to have a little rest though.
Kim x

Katherine said...

It was lovely to meet you and your stall was so pretty.

Glad to read that Hume Sweet Hume got a prize, I love their stuff and finally bought one of their cushions in a sale a few weeks ago. I spent my childhood in Orkney so it was lovely to have a chat with them and hear a familiar accent!

Nonnie said...

So pleased you had a good fair Lisa. Your stand looks really lovely. Are you going to be putting the new pottery on to the website? I'm thinking it would look good in my kitchen next to my red enamelware collection.

Anonymous said...


Nikki here. Would have loved to have come up to Glasgow for the fair but unfortunately London is not close enough. Would have been nice to have seen your pottery in the flesh. Looking forward to seeing the launch of your pottery on the web site soon though. My brother and sister-in-law to be will also be looking out.
So how will the rest of the year pan out for you? Any holidays planned, special ocassions either business or pleasure? It's always nice to have something to look forward to.
I really better shoot, have spent the last wee while viewing blogs, when I should be working!!


Alison said...

Glad you had a great time at the Country Living Fair.
I just love your new pottery range.
Thanks for telling us about Hume Sweet Hume - I'm off to look at their lovely knitwear!

Jane said...

Hi Lisa, I guess this is a response to my post.
I actually love Hume Sweet Hume's products and ethos as I mentioned, I have bought a lot from them over the years (including at the Fair on Thursday). I think that they would have been an excellent editor's choice award.
However I thought, and was also reflecting my customers comments, that there were many other stalls which were more deserving for a stall design award.

I wasn't in the running so it isn't as if I am biased.

I'm glad that you too had a good fair.

carolyn said...

Brilliant, I just knew everything would go well and that the pottery would go down a storm! Also rather interesting to hear your opinion on the winning stall - if only I had been there to judge for myself!

Tracy said...

Your stand looks so lovely and i am so glad that you did well x
When we move we will be so close to the Orkneys and my first visit will be straight to Hume sweet Hume - i love the look of their items and cannot wait to see them - i am thinking a nice cushion to celebrate the new house!!!
Also cannot wait for some of your lovely pottery - sounds like i will be joining a long list of waiting customers - hope you have lots of stock!
Enjoy a bit of a rest if you can.
Tracy x

Victoria May Plum said...

I love Hume sweet Hume too! I treated myself to one of their little purses before christmas. I love the rustic simplicity of their work, it has such integrity.
Well done, your stall looked great. Any tips on holding a successful stall?
Anyway, nice to have a good long blog to read on my evening off (well I am the boss!)
Victoria x

weirdbunny said...

Photo's in this post of your pottery show it off really well. It's not shown on your website shop, will it be on there to buy soon?

Twinkle Pink said...

I would love to have bought those little china cups with pretty little flowers happily growing in them.

What a feat to actually get to London, unpack, paint the stall, display, sell and then pack up. I have heard about the packing and unpacking side of it all my a number of people ... it's not for the faint hearted. I am so glad that you did well.

I have missed the CL Fair for a couple of years now. Just visiting was quite a feat for me and I didn't even have a stall to set up. On leaving I always looked like the bag lady, dragging a huge black sack usually filled with a quilt or cushions. Getting home on the underground, and then trudging through Waterloo and finding a spot on the train for me all my goodies ... oh what memories.

best wishes Ginny

tash said...

It all looks so amazing - your stand was beautiful. I'm glad you've had a good time and enjoyed yourself in the process. Wasn't worth all the fretting, was it?! :)

Primrose Hill said...

Thank you all, it's good to be back and chattering away again with you all!
Regarding the pottery, I'm going to post it for sale on the blog as it may be a few days before Gregg and I can sit down and get it up on the site - so a post will be coming on that shortly.
Ginny, sorry, I've probably mislead you by refering to Glasgow as the "big smoke", as much as I'd love to go down and do the London Fair I'm afraid it was only the baby fair that I did up here in Bonny Scotland!
Jane, you and I are just going to have to dissagree on this one, I thought they deserved the award fair and square. Th stenciling on the walls alone must have taken them ages - all part of the design. Yes, there were lots of other fantastic stalls but as I said in my post they did make an effort to display their wares nicely, they didn't just roll in the clothes rail as many do. And above all their product does speak for itself, beautifully designed and beautifully made, that alone would win them the prize. I think it was a bit unfair of you to say that they only won because of crooked judging.
Right off to get a post done on the pottery - be back shortly!
L x

rach said...

Hi Lisa,

So glad that the fair was a success for you. We had a really good fun day too - so much to see and so little time.

Here's a weird thing - I can't recall the Hume sweet Hume stand at all! Even when I looked at their web site I can't remember seeing it. That's the problem for a visitor who is only at the fair for a few hours. The hall is totally overwhelming, with every stand trying to grab your attention. After a while you get a bit punch drunk and wander past stalls in a daze.

It would be good to go back for a second day - I would probably see many things I missed on the first visit.

Primrose Hill said...

Hi Rach,
Glad you enjoyed the show, yes way too much to take in in a few hours, when I was a customer I used to be there at 10am and take the whole day to go round!
Hume Sweet Hume were easily missed, I had to go and look for them as they were up the back of the hall, not on the toilet run so I hadn't seen them!
L x

Janie said...

Hi Lisa
I've been meaning to comment on your posts since the fair,but haven't managed to until now.
It sounds like it went really well. And if your stock is as good as it looks in your photos, you'd have knocked the socks off a number of stalls at the London fair.
Bye for now, Janie