This Sunday the 14th May sees the kick off for Pulse London, an annual trade event for inspired living accessories, gifts and fashion. It is located in London Olympia which I personally love to visit as it is always so well organised, spacious but not TOO big. So you can definitely see the lot in one morning or afternoon. As always, wear comfy shoes and have a backpack with you to store all of the brochures; and don't forget to have your biz cards ready!
If you are just entering the scene as a new designer maker and considering exhibiting during Pulse, I would highly recommend it. Like Top Drawer, it is very focused as a show, and there is a general friendly buzz in the air, with lots of visitors making the rounds and lots of orders being placed. As a buyer, it has a great mixture of more established and new brands so you can always see first hand the new collections for those you already buy from as well as meet the makers and get some fresh inspiration for the shop(s) you look after.
I wanted to focus a little bit more on the benefits of attending this event if you are starting out your journey as a new maker/ brand. There are plenty of talks that take place every day that can help you navigate the world of wholesale trading as well as offering plenty of advice on how to connect with your audience through successful marketing and online/ social media.
Kicking off on the 14th May at 11am, is decorative artist and maker, Bridie Hall, one half of Pentreath & Hall, one of the most unusual and exciting shops in London. In this ShopTalk session, Bridie will tell the story of her transition from artist and maker to successful independent retailer, how she balances her time between the two, and the lessons she’s learnt along the way.
Photo: Anna Stathaki Photography
Then stay around because at 12, a panel of experts will give their insights on Getting the Media On Your Side. Among them are Katie Law from the London's Evening Standard, blogger Kristabel Plummer of IwantYouToKnow and fashion PR guru Rosie Davies who recently launched PR Dispatch, a subscription service that helps product-based brands DIY their PR.
In the afternoon of the 14th May Laura Perryman (one half of Daniel Heath Studio and Colour, Material & Trend Forecaster and owner of consultancy Colour of Saying) joins Geraldine Wharry of Trend Atelier to discuss forthcoming trends during "#Trendcast In Conversation with the Experts".
Photo: Anna Stathaki Photography
Also focusing on small businesses is Rosie Freshwater through her "Achieving Growth Online" talk on the 15th May. Rosie will take her years of experience in digital strategy and deliver her top tips for smaller retailers and how they can win market share from their bigger competitors online on a limited budget, by putting their customers at the heart of their business. Rosie is the Managing Director behind Leapfrogg PR, who looks after Rockett St George (and we all know how well RSG is doing in the press!) and she has recently written this great article about taking content too far when you're a small business.
If, as a designer, you thought that collaborating with a retailer might be something worth pursuing, head back to the theatre to listen to Heal's Kirsty Whyte, Product & Design Manager. In this ShopTalk session (15/5, at 2pm), Kirsty will tell you what exactly a designer collaboration looks like and why it can be mutually beneficial for both retailer and designer.
The last feature on social media is given on the morning of the 16th May through the last Panel discussion. We Built This City’s Alice Mayor and digital marketing expert Florence Eves will join the Evening Standard’s Rachael Sigee to speak about the social media platforms on offer and how they can be used effectively in retail.
See the full Talks schedule on the Pulse website here.
Obviously, I am not visiting simply to get some much needed insider info on all the above! I also want to see up close (and touch and feel) some new products and talk to the designers and makers! First up I'll be visiting the homeware section (obviously) and here are some of my top picks.
be&liv was established in Helsinki in 2012 with the aim to bring the poetry back to everyday life. Who can say no to that! Combining contemporary Scandinavian design with European elegance they bring together a great mix of both worlds. And not only do they collaborate with leading European designers like Ilkka Suppanen, Alberto Meda but also with up and coming young designers. Here are some of my hero pieces from their collection. You can find them at Stand J10 in Living.
Trained at the prestigious KLC School of Design in London after a brief stint as a fashion and textile designer, Bhavin Taylor is no stranger to bold colours. It seems that he is at ease designing residential havens as much as launching new products. His latest collection includes a lot of royal blue and magenta.
New for this year is Botanical home fragrance brand SUN.DAY London. With environmentally friendly products and apothecary jars that are made in Britain, GMO-free coconut and plant waxes, pure cotton wicks and a lavish dose of their uniquely formulated blends of pure aromatherapy-grade essential oils these candles are best described as a hug in a jar... I will try them and let you know!
Many textiles designers use Pulse to showcase their collections and this year there's plenty to satisfy every taste. From Blue faced Lancashire sheep wool used by Adriana Homewares, to the upcycled hard-wearing grey and blues of Anneka Textiles. For something more 'shiny' try the block print cushion covers of Claribel. And for something funky, try the Tic-Tac Scottish lambswool cushions (below) by Giannina Capitani.