I feel like Quoats has spent as much time in London as Yorkshire recently – we met loads of lovely people at Balance Festival in The Old Truman Brewery a few weeks ago then attended the Caffe Culture Show at Olympia last week. Larger companies employ specialist organisations to run their show stands but being a start-up we take more of a DIY approach, which brings with it the inevitable bumps in the road, along with the satisfaction of a successful show. Here’s a little behind the scenes so you can see what it takes to get Quoats on the road!
When deciding which shows to attend we like to plan ahead on our giant wall calendar to fit them around busy times on the farm but we always hear about the odd last minute one which is too good to miss. We go to a mix of consumer shows and trade shows, for example Balance Festival, which was a consumer show for people interested in fitness and wellness, and Caffe Culture, which was a trade show where there were a lot of coffee shops we’d love to have as stockists. We’re also super excited about our first music festival coming up in July!
The dreaded paperwork
I’ll admit now that organisation is not my strong point. There’s normally an incredibly large number of forms to fill out, from what sort of electric plug you’d like to booking a parking slot. We then plan logistics such as how we’re getting everything down to London, how we’re going to serve hot porridge samples and how we’re (fingers crossed!) going to sell Quoats. I am not the most creative person in the world so am always looking for inspiration to improve our stand design. To create a genuine farming feel at our first show we took oats dug from the field that morning, and we’ve also taken hay bales down to London (never again, I’m still hoovering the car!). We are now into the apple crate look and top of my wish list is currently some Quoats wall paper – watch this space!
When the time arrives I create a packing list as long as my arm and then play a 3D game of Tetrus trying to get as many boxes of Quoats as possible in the car! I can also guarantee whichever I chose of the A1 or M1 will have a traffic jam on (perhaps as a public service broadcast I should tell people which I chose so they can avoid it!). When I eventually get to London setting up the stand is usually slightly stressful as there seems to be so much to do. I’m always a bit nervous when the show opens until I speak to the first person of the day, who is inevitably lovely and perfectly normal (I don’t know why I get into my head they wouldn’t be!) and from that point the time flies by. My favourite thing about going to shows is talking to people, be that people wanting to try Quoats or the people I meet from the stands around ours – though being sandwiched between three delicious cakes stands tested my will power at Caffe Culture! It is a pretty exhausting few days and at some stage I normally need a cup of tea, so I was a little surprised at Balance Festival to find you could only get coffee (too trendy!). Having a start up has definitely made me more resourceful so I promptly bought some tea bags, emptied a Quoats pot for a makeshift cup and put our kettle on – needs must!
After the party
Once the show has closed everyone is normally in a hurry to get home, only to get stuck in horrendous traffic outside the venue, so at Caffe Culture I had the brilliant idea I would carry everything to the car, which was parked a good walk away. This was going well until I stepped outside with all our show stuff to realise the temperature in London had hit 25 degrees – hot and bothered would be an understatement! Once we’re back in Yorkshire we start to follow up all our leads and the real work starts in earnest!