Blustery weather and rail issues can’t stop trend-led tradeshow as visitors battle through
Birthdays, bumps and goodbyes summed up a very blustery Top Drawer S/S22 as exhibitors and visitors battled the elements and the transport system to enjoy the trend-led London show.
And there was a lot to see with 98 greetings exhibitors at Kensington Olympia, where the 135-year-old venue is undergoing renovations that include proposals for a logistics centre and cutting-edge logistics management system to reduce exhibition congestion substantially.
The works mean the adjacent station is currently closed so, coupled with the trio of storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin striking over a few days to cause chaos across the wider rail system, exhibitors and show organiser Clarion Events were very pleased with the numbers who successfully navigated the travel difficulties.
The Art File’s James and Ged Mace came up against the problems head on when their train from Nottingham was brought to a halt by a tree across the line at Stevenage. The family firm’s sales and marketing manager and managing director had to continue on to Olympia with a 40-mile taxi ride to arrive in time for setting up, while company director Karen Mace was forced to travel a day later than planned due to the rail difficulties.
First-time stationery and card exhibitor KaRiniTi had even more of a bumpy ride when co-owner Karin Kaufman flew in from their Tel Aviv home to meet husband and co-owner Itai in London for the show.
Karin told PG Buzz: “We came in through the storm and I was holding on very tight – it was very bumpy weather and we had to wait when we landed for a very long amount of time because the jet bridge couldn’t connect in the wind, so we couldn’t get off the plane. But it was worth to get here for the first time.”
Itai added: “We started the company five years ago with the first edition of a Hebrew calendar, which starts in September, and we’re working out how to adapt for other markets, possibly with academic calendars.”
There was a fond farewell for Janet Stevens from G.F Smith as she realised Top Drawer would be her final trade show given her upcoming retirement in April from her long-time greeting card consultant role, and many of her publisher pals took the opportunity for a cuddle and to wish her all the best.
With Cath Tate Cards beginning planning their 40th anniversary celebrations, Sarah Lewis celebrated her actual 40th birthday on her bright Alphablots stand with the news that she’d lifted the PaperAwards Exciting Use Of Colour award, as well as being an Engaging Print runner up – and had a bit of a scary moment.
“It’s my 40th birthday today (Monday 21 February).” Sarah told PG Buzz, “and it was really cool because my boyfriend sent me flowers to the stand – but it was scary because a man in a black jacket with a walkie-talkie came up and said ‘is this your stand’, and I really thought I was in trouble! He then said he had a package for me and it was the flowers, so it was actually really sweet.”
The full PaperAwards trophy list is:
Emotive Design: Winners Raspberry Blossom; runners-up Ricicle Cards and Katrina Sophia.
Engaging Print: Winners Type And Story; runners-up Raspberry Blossom and Alphablots.
Exciting Use Of Colour: Winners Alphablots; runners-up Raspberry Blossom and Sister Paper Co.
Best Stationery Design: Winners Elvira VV Designs; runners-up Crispin Finn and Coffee Notes.
It was also Coffee Notes’ first tradeshow outing as the new ethical stationery and card company has just been born out of the print company run by founder Sarah Downey.
“We have a printing business as well,” she told PG Buzz, “and we have started Coffee Notes more recently but we have 30 years of expertise that we believe has allowed us to make things that are more sustainable than other people. Our paper specifically uses waste product so we’re trying to educate and encourage. I’m comfortable that it’s all very traceable and sustainable – and it’s been going down very well with visitors.”
The last word for the event, which had returned after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic as well as being postponed from its usual mid-January slot, should go to Ohh Deer’s co-founder Mark Callaby, who said: “I love tradeshows! I know many people think I’m crazy, but I always come away feeling revitalised and feeling more in love with Ohh Deer.
“At Top Drawer my team completely smashed it. We don’t do the hard sell because we truly believe that being friendly and making the experience fun for everyone will win – especially when we’ve got products that can sell themselves.
“Tradeshows give us the opportunity to meet our customers, spend time with industry friends and see how people interact with our products. We even had a customer tell us that they came back to place an order with us because we were the friendliest stand at the whole show and she felt compelled to order from us!”
Top: GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson (in blue) was busy at TD meeting (clockwise from top left) The Seed Card Company, The Art File, Objectables and retailer Sarah Laker, Ohh Deer, Alex Sharp Photography, and Stripey Cats