Gosh what a past few weeks these have been!

There is so much to tell you but firstly I want to talk about the Stonyhurst Country fair, and the amazing time I had there. 

The fair happened back on the 6th and 7th of April at a most prestigious and beautiful college in the deepest darkest Lancashire, near to Clitheroe. It’s an absolutely stunning place, a bit like being at Hogwarts without the magic!

We arrived on the friday to set up, which was a dream, all very easily sign posted and the staff on hand were brilliant and very informative. I was in the upper gallery and luckily had been placed in front of a huge window with lots of light, sadly there were places at the fair that were incredibly dark. Whether they’ll offer stands in those places next year, or offer free lighting I’m not entirely sure.

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The good thing was I got to test my new lighting kit out. Thankfully my husband has some knowledge with electrics and helped build a lighting strip from Ikea with their +365 range. I have the diffused spot lights, so they give overall light, rather than concentrated light and you could really tell the difference without them. The lights work with a strip that is screwed to a wide board, measuring 1m, the lights are slid onto the strip and then a wire is clipped to the end and then plugged into the mains. The whole thing cost about £130, though I initially baulked at the cost, it proved it self in so many ways on that weekend.

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My stand was 4m x 2m with a 2.4 metre table included. When we arrived we had two chairs and we set to at getting everything sorted, hung and displayed. It was great to have so much space, though I now know that for my products, a 3m x 1m stand is ample room. I much prefer people to wander into the stand and so I dress it in a lifestyle look. I want you to be immersed in an experience, so for this show I incorporated textiles using curtains, lamp lighting as well as strip. I also set up ‘lifestyle’ scenes, which all seemed to be welcomed because everyone commented on how lovely the stand looked.

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I also brought along my printing press, I tend to only use the Adana for one off jobs and display now. It was great at getting people to understand the process of printing by showing them how it all works. On the other end of the stand I had my vintage till, which was another draw for customers. I feel I’ve reached a good place with my stand design and well placed props, that it engages most people.

I had opted to stay at Stonyhurst for two nights, the accommodation was fabulous, clean tidy and far better than I could have imagined. The first night Kirsten and I wandered into the local village for tea, which was about 1.2 miles away. Kirsten was exhibiting with her work from Quernus Crafts  and we had a lovely evening putting the world to rights!

Saturday the fair started and though the footfall was steady, sadly it didn’t seem to reach the upper gallery as much. Also whilst I was sat there I started to realise that despite the sales not being brilliant, if I was feeling negative, then surely others would pick up on it. So I started to actively hand out my cards and postcards, anyone who showed an interest in the press I gladly showed them how it worked. If someone wanted the till to ding, then I’d gladly oblige.

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I’m not a fan of aggressively selling to people, I do firmly believe that if you want to buy, you will; I don’t need to force you to make a decision. I will however explain in detail how I work, what letterpress is and the quality of the work is reflected in the price. Most often than not people are intrigued and take a card or buy something. It was at this fair, that the importance of having a great personality combined with a positive attitude is essential. This fair was a great tool for promotion and marketing, it was a good way for me to explore stand design and layout and sizes. Due to the low cost, I was able to learn a lot about myself, DYP and most importantly my expectations of what I want to achieve.

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That evening we wandered into the village again, this time Neil from Sci Art Images joined us and a lovely couple of ladies from Germany! Again we all put the world to rights and talked about craft world domination.

Sunday was a different day, more footfall and the organisers were guiding people up the stairs. It was a different feel to the saturday and I met a lot of graphic designers who wanted to work with a printer, in short print runs at reasonable prices. I’ve had a lot of work of recent where I act as a printer to designers but it’s a more personal service and because the print runs are smaller, it can be cost effective but we retain high quality print.

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It was also at this point, that I came to realise that it’s very difficult to show my personalised or bespoke service. So a germ of an idea formed that I really need a small brochure with order forms and photographs of examples. Now, sitting here writing this, it seems the most obvious thing in the world but at the time it was like a lightbulb coming on!

Break down at the end of the fair was smooth and easy, Dave from HTG events came to help with his van, even though he had man flu!

So on reflection, I found Stonyhurst to be a viable financial investment, I didn’t do amazingly well at selling but I engaged my audience, I learnt a lot about demographic but most importantly I changed my attitude and outlook. Of course we need to make money but we also need to not just measure our success on our bank balance.

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Since the fair, I’ve had three commissions and two interviews from the press. These were plain and simply because I was there and I will definitely be signing up for next year if it doesn’t clash with the BCTF!

In other news: I have signed up for four HUGE fairs this year, I will be at the Great Yorkshire Show from Tuesday 9th July until Thursday 11th July on the Made in Yorkshire stand.  I’ll also be at the Autum Flower Show at Harrogate Show ground later in the year with Made in Yorkshire too.

For the end of the year, I will be at the Country Living Fairs in Glasgow and Harrogate, which are 21st to the 24th November and the 28th to the 1st Dec respectively. These are massive fairs for me and DYP and I am so excited to be doing them! I have already started working on Christmas Cards and gifts! If you have any ideas that you think would work for Christmas, then feel free to drop me a line!

Right, I better get on with some work! All this talk of printing is making me twitchy!

Bec 🙂





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