'Ask Kate' Live Q&A on Facebook, including: tips for exhibiting at a trade show and where to go for fashion start-up advice

Here’s the transcription for last week’s Facebook Live. In it we cover exhibiting at a trade show, where to go for start-up fashion advice and an update on the registration for our Meet the Manufacturer event

Sorry it has taken me a while to get this online this week due to half term.

Our Facebook live takes place every Thursday on the Make it British Facebook page at 1pm.

It’s you chance to ask questions about UK manufacturing, buying British and making in the UK. If you’ve got a question to submit please do so via the live chat on our website, send us a tweet, send a message via our Facebook page or even DM us on Instagram.

Today we’ve got quite a few questions to answer, particularly we seem to be getting a lot of questions from people that  have their own businesses, so we are here to help you answer questions about that. We’ve also had a manufacturer get in touch saying that they’re looking for staff for their factory so I’ll be covering that, and I’ll be telling you about all of the fantastic British made gifts and we can recommend for Valentine’s Day.

I’m also talking about where you can go as a start-up if you want to get information about setting up a fashion brand and also tips on exhibiting for the first time at a trade fair.

So firstly, if you haven’t got your loved one a gift yet we are compiling a top 10 of the best British made Valentine’s gifts. We put a call out on our Instagram page asking for suggestions for gifts made in the UK that would make a fantastic Valentine’s present. Please pop over to the Instagram post, find the post with the big pink heart on it and we will consider your British made gift for inclusion in the Valentine’s post that we’ll be running tomorrow. So, you’ve got about another 24 hours to add something to that and we will then be selecting our 12 favourite gifts, so that’s the Make It British Valentine’s post.

While we’re on the subject of what’s going on over at the website, we have several fantastic competitions that are running at the moment. We do these regularly to help tell everyone about the sort of products that are made here and give you an opportunity to win something fabulous at the same time. Currently we’ve got a fantastic leather washbag from Abreption, and a piece of jewellery from Magnus & Bella. On Instagram we’re running a competition just this week and it closes tomorrow night, to win a silk British made pocket square from Geoff Stocker which he has done in collaboration with Grey Fox, so it’s the perfect thing for any dapper gent, so do pop over and enter that too.

So welcome if you’ve just joined us, if you are watching and you want us to give a shout out about your brand and what you do type something in the comments and that’s why I’ve got my glasses on, I can hopefully read it, and I will give you a little shout out. 

So it’s early days of this Make It British video thing and we are finding there’s a few technical hitches, we do need a more professional setup here but unfortunately space doesn’t allow us to have a full-time Facebook Live studio! So, for the moment we’re temporarily mocking it up every Thursday with our lovely Moon blanket in the background.

Anyway, the next thing I wanted to cover was that Ronin Jewellery got in touch just to say can you give us a shout out, they are exhibiting at Spring Fair at the moment and it’s the last day at the show today. I know there’s quite a few companies that manufacture in the UK who are exhibiting there, so we wanted to say if you are at the show today pop over and see Ronin Jewellery.

If you are the sort of person who has a business who exhibits at trade fairs or who is interested in exhibiting at a trade fair, we have had someone ask what sort of things do you need to know if it’s your first time exhibiting at a fair.  So having been to many trade fairs myself over the last 20 years firstly as a buyer, also as an exhibitor for brands that I worked with, and now running our Meet the Manufacturer trade show, I’ve pulled together some top tips of things you need to know about exhibiting at a show. The tips apply to someone that’s showing for the first time, as well as if you’re an experienced exhibitor.

The main thing I would say is how important it is to always smile if you are standing on a stand at a trade show, even if your feet are killing you, you’re really uncomfortable, you’ve been there for four days and it’s getting a bit monotonous, just smile and you’re much more likely to attract people to your stand.  I always know which exhibitors are going to say “we didn’t have a very good show” because it’ll be the ones that have been sitting behind a desk, and not interacting with people, because it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new customers, get out there and get exposure for your brand.

Next I’m going to cover a manufacturer that we know in Manchester called Porters of Manchester, they’ve got a small manufacturing unit, I visited it, it’s fantastic, there’s about six ladies there machining and they are looking for a pattern cutter. They’re based in Central Manchester, so if you are a pattern cutter looking for some extra work and you’re watching this or you know someone who might be interested or who lives locally then please do get in touch.  

And while I’m on that subject I thought actually this could be a great forum, if you do have a factory, a manufacturing unit, a brand, a studio and you are looking for someone to join you then we reach quite a wide audience with this Facebook page so please let us know, feel free to join our Buy British community group and post something in there.  We’re more than happy to spread the word, if you make in the UK we will help you find someone if you’re looking for someone to work with you.

Welcome to all those that have joined us, please do say hello in the comments and I will give you a shout out, I can see we’ve got quite a few people who’ve joined us now, don’t be shy, say hello.

I should say here that if you have just joined us for the first time and you think what is that woman harping on about, this is my weekly slot every Thursday at 1pm to answer your questions about making in the UK, and buying British.  We generally answer questions that people have given us via our Twitter, Facebook page, Buy British community, live on our website or email us, so send us in a question if you want it answered or if there’s a topic you want us to cover and I will endeavour to cover it the following week. 

Hello, I’ve just seen there’s a note from Victoria @wearerushworth, hello Victoria and hello to Jo Storie Hand Knits,  we’ve got a bit of a knitting theme going on today.  Talking of which, while we’re talking about knitting and all things woolly I did a fantastic interview just this week with Laura from Laura’s Loom. She had a great story – she told us all about how she starts from the fleece and how that process goes from fleece to yarn to finished product, be that knitwear or weaving. So if you do want to find out a little bit more about the whole knitting and yarn process I highly recommend reading the interview that we did with Laura.

Someone else asked us this week, we did a Make It British forum last October and they asked when we were doing the next one.  Now the forum, the last we did was held in Leicester, and it was entitled How to Develop a Made in Britain Brand. It was completely packed out, it was a fantastic day and I think everyone really enjoyed the networking that took part at the show. So we are going to do another one.  We’re already planning where we might do that, it will be somewhere other than London in the UK, if you’ve got a particular suggestion of an area where you’d like that to take place then put it in the comments or send us a message, we’ve got some ideas but it will be October of this year and it’ll be along a similar theme, so yes there is another Make It British forum coming up. 

But if in the meantime, you are looking to develop a fashion brand and want advice on then there are several places that I can recommend to go.

Firstly there is the UK Fashion and Textile Association, they run masterclasses on fashion and product development. There’s also Fashion Angel who are a fantastic company who support start-ups and people going into fashion businesses. 

There’s also Fashion Capital. They have a factory in London, they offer lots of advice to small businesses related to fashion and starting a fashion brand and they’re also doing an event  in Manchester on the 30th March and you can find out more here.

And then finally just if you are a general brand starting out, I think Enterprise Nation is a fantastic resource. It’s not that much to become a member and they lots of things that you can get involved with to find out more about starting a small business.  Brilliant!

Okay, has anyone got any particular questions for me today, I think I’ve covered most of the questions that we’ve had coming through this week, have I missed any out Lauren?

I don’t think so, we have had a lot of people asking about registration for our event.

We run our Meet the Manufacturer trade show once a year in May at the Truman Brewery in London, the registration will be opening tomorrow (it’s now open and you can register here). The good news about this year’s show is it is entirely free, so in the past we have had free entry to the trade show and then a conference running at the same time that you could buy a ticket for, but this year all of the talks will be completely and utterly free and you can drop in at any time. 

I’ve just seen we’ve got a question coming through from Elizabeth Rees, ‘I’m looking for an eco-packaging business,’ oh that’s a good question Elizabeth. I know quite a few packaging businesses, how many of them are eco I’m not so sure, so I will check that out Elizabeth and I will come back to you on that next week. 

I’ve got one more question from Victoria, ‘Re trade shows, I’ve noticed lots of people don’t display their prices openly for buyers, what’s best practice?

That is a good question, I don’t think that our exhibitors for the most part will display their prices when they come to the show. The manufacturers we have at our show are generally contract manufacturers so the price that they quote will be based on the specific product that you order. If you’re a brand coming to the show then generally I think buyers do expect you to have a price list available, or have a good indication of what the prices are. Although I wouldn’t suggest that you would price up individual products at the show.  So it is always wise to know what your prices are in advance I would say, yes.  Does that help Victoria, I hope it does?

Well thank you everyone for joining today, I think that’s pretty much everything I wanted to cover, please do join us every week and don’t feel shy, do ask a question, thank you to Victoria and Elizabeth who asked questions today, Elizabeth I’ll come back to you on the question that you asked. 

We’re here every Thursday, one o’clock give or take a minute or twos technical hitch while we set up, so please bear with us and if you are finding this useful please do let me know, write something in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Right thank you very much everyone for joining us and I will see you again next week.  This has been Kate Hills from Make It British doing Ask Kate Live Q&A on Facebook every Thursday at 1pm, thank you.

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