I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks, and I have been very fortunate to recruit a guest blogger this week! If you are a regular reader of the blog then you may remember posts of a local foodie find I stumbled across last summer – The Wee Croft Shop, which is less than a mile from our own house in Inverness! I’ve been able to have a few foodie adventures with Elizabeth who runs the seasonal shop on the croft where she lives, as well as her year round business – Capability Brown’s. Over to Elizabeth to tell us about an event she attended last year to promote her business (and do check out Tuesday’s post for an introduction!)
Cast your mind back to October 2013, after a fairly quiet Summer due to family circumstances and having to take some time off, I was doing my usual ploughing through FB pages and noticed that Hebridean Sea Salt were heading to Glasgow to the BBC Good Food Show. I had met Nathalie (from HSS) at an event earlier that year and suddenly thought if she can do the Good Food Show, maybe I can.
I knew that I had to think about what product or products I would take, it’s a 3 day show and a good 4 hour journey so there was no going back at the end of the day, and a lot of baking to prepare for it…I was told that about 50000 people would probably come through the doors over the 3 days!
As it was October, I was now in full swing making my usual Plum Duffs, which is a steamed fruit and suet pudding and suddenly thought, this is the product I am going to take to Glasgow, its perfect, I can make them in advance, they have a long shelf life and it’s the right time of year to try and sell them.
So my application form gets sent and then I wait.
After about a week, I got a very nice email asking for more information including a sample, and copies of things like my business cards and any other branding material I had. I sent them off and waited impatiently for only another 4 days before getting a phone call from a lovely lady who was in charge of the Good Food Champions area of the show. She proceeded to tell me that they were so impressed with my puddings, packaging, and cards that they requested me to be one of their Good Food Champions.
After reading all the info she sent, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge!
Then began the task of making the puddings (I decided 500 would be a good round number), booking hotel rooms, hiring a van, ordering pudding bowls, material, ribbons, cards … and then I had to think about how I was going to display my puddings in a 2m x 2m space so had to order tables, more material, and more accessories. I begged and borrowed (but didn’t steal) lots of things and finally had a plan in my head, now all I had to do was make the puddings, wrap them and hopefully sell them!
Each pudding takes between 8 and 12 hours to steam and depending on size I can cook 3, 4 or 6 at a time. So I started the mammoth task in March 2014 (thankfully we have a basement, ideal for storing them).
Most of my summer was spent in a hot kitchen steaming and mixing puddings while trying to keep up with my regular orders.
7 months and £4500 later, it was the day before the show, so we picked up the van at 8am, loaded it up and drove to Glasgow, then spent 6 hours setting up our space (when I say we, I am talking about my husband and myself). We were absolutely knackered even before the show started, so we headed off to our bed for the night. I didn’t sleep a wink, kept thinking “what if it’s not enough?”, “what if it’s too many?”, “have I done the right thing?” and more! This was my biggest event to date, the most money I have spent on any one project and my business was dependent on the next 3 days.
Then Friday morning was here, we arrived early, got some breakfast, spoke to the other traders (who were all lovely) and the doors opened.
All weekend, people were 4 and 5 deep at the stall, I had blisters on my hands from cutting samples and Jim had lost his voice from talking, we were dehydrated, hungry and completely exhausted. Sunday night meant packing up, and driving back to Inverness.
I have never been so tired. Would I do it again? Probably not, the reason being I think you need a team of people behind you and although I had so many wonderful volunteers especially some lovely ladies who came to my wrapping party. Am I glad I did it? Of course I am, it was an experience of a life time, I met some wonderful people, and I can say I did it and I did it with bells on.
The moral of this story is you learn from everything you do and you should never regret anything even if you look back and think it maybe wasn’t the best use of your time. I will never know what last year would have brought, had I not been busy all year making plum duffs but I can’t regret it as it was a hell of a journey and I am glad I did it.