Scandinavian bedding from Also Home
Also Home

A week ago today I visited London tradeshow, Top Drawer, to get the low-down on the latest trends and homeware designs for spring/summer 2019.

However, halfway through putting my review together, I realised there may be some people who wonder what the heck a show like this is, or how it can be super beneficial to growing your business. I know I once did!

With that said, today I wanted to share a post on what to expect from a trade show like Top Drawer if you’re a blogger, stylist, designer or even a student.

What is a trade show?

A trade show is an event that showcases products and trends within a certain industry for retailers to view and place orders to buy in bulk. For example, Top Drawer is a platform for homeware, gift, and fashion brands to sell their goods to the likes of John Lewis etc, which then leads to John Lewis selling the product to you, the consumer.

Artificial flowers from Grand Illusions
Grand Illusions

How does it benefit you?

As it’s the start of the food chain, if you like, you might be asking how visiting a trade show benefits you? Within the interiors industry, this is where some of the top brands come under one roof. Which means there are ample opportunities to speak to the team in charge of marketing, introduce yourself in person (much more memorable than an email), and discover more about the brand itself.

Hanging planter from Bloomingville
Bloomingville

Not only is it the perfect networking opportunity, but the space is filled with inspiration, from new seasonal trends to niche labels you might not have discovered otherwise.

I always come away from shows like this feeling so inspired, whether that’s listening to a seminar (there are usually talks specific to your field throughout a trade show) and learning something new, or seeing how a brand has styled their stand. I’ll often see styling ideas that I wouldn’t have seen in a magazine, because brands have to be imaginative with the space they’ve bought.

What to prepare for a trade show?

To help grow your business, preparation is key when it comes visiting a trade show. This is how I prepare for Top Drawer each season:

  • I look online at the exhibitors’ list to make a note of the brands I would like to see, and if available, the name of the person I’d like to speak to
  • I schedule in time for seminars that might be useful on the day, working travel around being at the show for the longest amount of time
  • I order new business cards to give the best first impression
  • I plan a semi-professional outfit – I say semi because even though it’s a work event, there are no power suits here. You might, however, not want to steer clear of turning up in a tracksuit – unless you’re at a sportswear show of course
  • I pack a notebook, pen and camera, so I can make notes and take pictures of brands that have inspired me

Pink feather ostrich light
Coach House

What to expect when you arrive?

Most trade fairs are big. I mean, “wow, OK, where do I even start” kind of big. The key is to register online beforehand so you can present either your e-ticket or head to press/registration.

At this point, you’ll have to show your business card to prove who you are. After a quick bag search, you’ll head into the event to start your day.

A note is that b2b events are for business, so be prepared for some brands not to have time to chat to press. In this instance, ask for the marketing contact and say you’ll follow up with an email. You’ve already got one step closer than you would be trying to pitch from home as you’ve got the direct name and contact of the decision maker.

Another thing to note is, ask permission to take photographs before you start snapping away. As trade shows work ahead of season (so, the items you see at Top Drawer won’t be hitting shops for you to buy until March onwards), some brands are wary of copycat designs which is completely understandable.

Finally, be polite, professional and get ready to be inspired. I’ve gained so many amazing contacts from visiting events like Top Drawer, which have turned into both paid opportunities and collaborations.

So there you have it, here’s what to expect from a trade show if you’ve never visited one before. If you’re interested in visiting Top Drawer in September (8-10th) at London’s Olympia, click here for more information.

*I am an official media partner of Top Drawer, but thoughts and opinions of the show are completely my own.

In case you missed it: Highlights of Top Drawer AW19 | How To Use Pinterest To Grow Your Instagram | 8 Ways To Save Money Buying Homeware & Furniture