I thought I would give you guys a little insight into part of the FTLOY working routine, a snapshot into one element of the business if you will, that element being shows!
I remember the first show I ever did and remember being utterly terrified! I think in the run up to the show I was lucky if I got any sleep due to worrying! What I didn't know at the time was that it would be a baptism of fire because our first show was the first ever Yarndale... Yes silly old me thought that would be a good way to dip our toes into exhibiting at fibre and wool exhibitions! What I now know is that show has actually became one of the bigger shows in the event calendar and really wasn't the best one to start out with!
One half of our first tiny pen at yarn dale.... oh how things have changed... and look at how tiny the smalls were!
The one thing that stuck with me from our first experience was that people are genuinely amazing! Yes, yes, soppy as it may sound, but when your business is ran predominately from behind a screen it's hard to truly feel that level of genuine enthusiasm! And that's our sole purpose of doing the shows right there in a nutshell! We want to meet our customers, put faces to names and get to know you all better.
So after our first show, which by the way was a resounding success! I wanted to do more! So we planned to be involved in as many shows as we could fit in.... That might have been an error on my part as I scheduled fibre east, then the British wool show without really looking at the calender, then realised that they were in actual fact four days apart!! Oops!
So that brings me nicely to what is expected before a show, the run up to the exhibition. To set a scene in your head, think mad chaos, thousands of post-it notes, and sheets upon sheets of yarn labels, not to mention the thousands of skeins of yarn you have frantically dyed "just incase we don't have enough" I am a worrier, there I said it! I am not happy unless there is something to I worry about my OH likes to say.
Basically a yarn exhibition or show is just that ... come and show everyone what you do, what do you sell? Who are you? Chance to reach out and speak to real individuals. So we pack up the entire studio... literally! That is no mean feat let me tell you, because as you know FTLOY is just little old me doing all the making, I have an assistant to help with other parts of the business but when it actually comes to dyeing yarn or making hooks, stitch markers, designing packaging.... thats all me! So in the run up to the show you can imagine how much extra workload there can be.
I dye a silly amount of extra yarn - exclusive show colour ways that don't appear in our regular shop updates. So the studio tends to look like a bombsight of wet and dry yarn, skeined and unskeined, labelled and still to be labelled ... literally everywhere! And yes I dye each and every skein myself. I think on last count the most I dyed in one day was 11 kilos. I also like to make sure there is a sample of every product I have under my belt, and the list goes as follows:
- Yarn - hand dyed of course!
- Hand painted sock blanks.
- Polymer clay handled ergonomic crochet hooks - about 10+ different styles and counting.
- Stitch markers - hand made by moi!
- Fibre - hand dyed again... what else!
- Kits - all sorts from cowls to fingerless gloves and everything in between.
- The yarn lovers colouring book - that was a labour of love! I drew 20 illustrations for that one.
- Other products - that covers things like the blocking pins, pin cushions, mugs, notebooks, and more.
Just some of the ftloy hook range
Listing it all like that makes me nervous in one sense because as I type this we have 4 days left before another show! (Shuuuuussssssh if we don't check the list it will all be ok ) but also very proud that looking back to our very first show where we had a few baskets full of yarn and a few ranges of hooks to now where the list is ever growing!
To give you a comparison this was our set up at the last Yarndale, and then also Wonderwool
And thats only one side of the stall!
This looks lovely and cozy but trust me it was freezing!
So once all the show stock has been made, it all gets packed up and we shoehorn it either in our 7 seater, or we hire a van... and we head off to wherever the show may be. Sometimes we camp on the show site - which is never a good idea if I'm honest... lets face it us city girls are just no good at that! well this city girl certainly isn't, queue me driving to find the nearest shop to buy a duvet at the last show lol! yep we froze! literally!
Then normally the shows are over a 3 day period, starting early on the friday to drive down, and set up - and because we are based in Glasgow and most shows are south of the border that early start is normally the wrong 5'clock of the day! and finishing up very very late on the Sunday after we have finished the show and packed up the stall to start the long drive home.
So why put ourselves through all that I hear you wonder... "what just for 2 days" people have said in the past... well I'll tell you, thats because over those two days we meet the most amazing people, get to hug those long time customers who up until that point have been a name on a screen, we get to watch your sheer excitement when you buy a new hook in the perfect colour or design, or how happy you are when you squish that skein of yarn you have picked out just for you! Yep call me a soppy old git but thats it! I do it for that reason, because otherwise I would loose the element of the business that made me start doing it in the first place.... making other people happy!
And on that note I'll leave you there as I say our next show Fibre east is only 4 days away and that to do list isn't getting any shorter... in fact I'm sure its growing!
Happy hooking folks :)
Love Lisa xx