The beginning of the year is exciting here in the Box Office. Christmas shakes everything up but now the dust has settled, plans start to be formed and that most boring but necessary part of running a business – its growth forecast – starts to be discussed, pinned down and agreed.
Of course you can only grow as a business if you are giving your customers what they want, and for a creative business like Boxcitement that means we have to tap into the trends and designs that will be popular and will attract newcomers to us as well as keeping our loyal group of subscribers happy. Luckily for us, this time of year is also when some of the main trade shows occur – meaning we can meet face-to-face with companies who have committed to the production of goods that will set the trends into the next year and beyond. So I head up and down the motorway during January and February visiting shows that will help us connect with new suppliers and, most importantly, make sure we are getting our themes and designs spot on for our upcoming boxes.
This week, I attended Spring Fair, a HUGE wholesaler and trade retail fair the the Birmingham NEC. If you have ever been to this behemoth of space you will know it is absolutely gigantic – the Spring Fair takes up hall upon hall of exhibition space, stuffed full of everything from diamonds to doghouses. One huge room was dedicated to Christmas trees while another was full of the decorations that you will see in shops next Christmas. I passed these by quickly as the spaces I was there to see – stationery, jewellery and contemporary gifts – lay beyond them and I was keen to discover what is going to be huge in design terms over the next few months.
As I wandered amongst the stands, I couldn’t help but be excited at all the beautifully presented goodies in front of me. Boxcitement is an artisan brand, concentrating on small productions of items that aren’t available in shops, and so I was naturally drawn to the stands that fit with our ethos. I watched a pewter manufacturer from France create some exquisite little pewter angels (yes, I took their details!), I chatted to an importer of the most gorgeous recycled beads from Ghana (look out for them in a Boxcitement box very soon!) and I chatted to a company from the Ukraine who make stunning decorations which manage to be contemporary and very traditional at the same time – I made an order for some using my own designs right there and then!
It was an inspiring, if exhausting day and it seemed everywhere I turned I saw items that I know our customers will love – and I made some useful contacts which I may never have come across without being there in person. New packaging ideas for our jewellery items? Check! New, 100% recyclable envelopes and boxes? Check! New ways to use colour, pattern and texture – oh yes!
Days like this are so necessary if Boxcitement is to continue to create original, on-trend themes and items for subscribers – after all we can’t grow if we don’t get that right! I now have bags full of contact cards and a head full of ideas – my next job is to sieve through all the information and get to know some of these wonderful suppliers with the aim of working with them in the future. Watch this space!
Deb – Creative Director, Boxcitement