Dragons in training reveal top picks and delights from their den experience
The recent GCA Dragons Speed-Dating event was a major triumph for all in the den with the 20 retail dragons all fired up by the 72 publishers who showed off their ranges via a series of fast-paced pitches.
PG Buzz chased up some of the dragons to find out more about their experiences in the Den and what delights caught their beady eyes…today we feature House Of Cards, Heirloom, and Sainsbury’s.
Miles Robinson, co-owner of House of Cards, seven shops in the Home Counties
The Dragon experience: “I’ve been a Dragon before, but felt that this year’s participants were much better prepared and their ranges were of a higher standard, which bodes well for the industry.
“I think it’s such a great event to network, spot potentially emerging talent and see progress on others.”
Den delights: “Of those I saw Aardvark impressed again as well as Sea Glass By Archie, Huxley Jones and Hype Cards, and I’m sure there will be some more gems in my sample bag!”
Shelley Sheridan, owner of Heirloom, Teddington
The Dragon experience: “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but being a Dragon was so much fun and a really good way to meet publishers that I’ve not seen before. I’ve never talked so much at a trade event!
“When the GCA’s Amanda Fergusson said to bring a suitcase, I wish I’d listened! Carrying home a bag and rucksack with over 200 sample cards plus brochures on the Underground was quite a feat in itself, but my daughters, who are 10 and 15, and I had the best time sorting through the card samples and making a list of the companies to contact and place orders.”
Den delights: “I’ve already been in touch with Say It With Songs to place a cards and gifts order. I went all out and spent £814.08 on the order across 28 card designs, a pink spinner, tote bags and two sizes of cosmetic pouches.
“Other companies I’ve short listed are Klara Hawkins for her All Things Nice and Pattern Delight ranges; Alphablots for its birthday cards; Marina B for its Jack Spratt male-focus birthday range; Chadbrook Cards for its art cards; Helen Richmond for its female adult age cards and Penguin Ink for its Mini Hearts range.
“It was also good to see Paper Salad participating, from whom I regularly order, and Hype, as I’m just stocktaking my kids’ ranges with a view to ordering new designs after Easter, and Meraki as the event reminded me to look over any new designs, resulting in a new order arriving instore today!”
Abi Wilson, buying and design manager of Sainsbury’s
The Dragon experience: “I so loved the buzz of the industry being together again – so intense to see people after so much time apart!
“While we saw some publishers who are happy to work with larger-scale retailers and can manage scale, to those really starting out it was more of a case of giving advice on developing their brand by sharing what we look for and routes to market, knowing who they are targeting, etc.”
Den delights: “I’m excited by a couple of people I can see us working with soon. These were publishers who had a real point of difference, but understood what their brand stood for, and how it stacked in the existing market – but I’m not naming names just yet!”
Top: A thumbs up from the dragons at the recent GCA event