The British Craft Trade Fair

Ah-ah-ah-ahhhhchooooooo! I am on the sofa with hot water bottles and a couple of blankets – I think this is definitely turning into a cold– so a big “arhhhhhh there now” from everyone please!

bctf logo

It is little wonder, I’m pretty whacked. I had Reetsweet on Saturday and on Sunday I went to the British Craft Trade Fair at the Great Yorkshire Showground. It’s an event bringing together buyers for shops and galleries and the UK’s finest designer-makers. I’m thinking about doing it next year and I was invited along.

The quality of work was of course astounding and it was great to meet some people I have long been a fan of including weaver Nick Ozanne of Leto & Ariadne who, not for the first time, won an award for his glorious silk scarves.

One of the great exhibitors at the BCTF
One of the great exhibitors at the BCTF

The organiser of the event met with potential newbies and had superb advice to give and it was clear she had our backs and would be there all the way. I thought I was pretty much on the ball with pricing. I knew I had to establish my cost price (how much it costs to make an item in materials and time), wholesale price (cost price + some profit, the price shops pay) and RRP (Recommended Retail Price) and I had spent a lot of time trying to get my pricing right. I thought that the wholesale price had to be about 40% of the RRP so it was a bit of a shock to learn that they in fact expect 100% and 20% VAT also has to be taken into consideration! The 40% figure is for sale or return, not wholesale.  So I am back at my spreadsheets but it has really made me think for the good about what I am offering and looking at how I can make things more efficiently, and how to design products that are still financially viable for me to make, resulting in a palatable RRP for the customer yet one which can still accommodate my costs, the wholesale commission and VAT. The event has also made me think a lot about providing repeatable ‘ranges’ of goods, rather than my somewhat haphazard way at the moment, using whatever fabric has come off the loom.

Another Souper talented designer maker at the BCTF
Another Souper talented designer maker at the BCTF

I could have done with a day off on Monday to recuperate, but I had some serious tidying up to do as well as getting Boris (my loom) dressed because on Tuesday a lovely lady and photographer from the Yorkshire Post came to do an interview and take some snaps for a feature on artists and their homes for their weekend supplement. I hadn’t expected to be in the pictures myself – I’m a very shy gal at heart but they were very gentle with me! When it comes out I’ll pass on the details (as long as I don’t look like a lunatic, obviously!).

This afternoon I had a meeting at Handpicked Hall in Skipton, an interesting enterprise offering retail space to small local businesses and it was all very positive and exciting, but by the time I got on the train to come home I began to feel pretty bad. With the Saltaire Arts Trail looming (see what I did there) the last thing I’ve got time for is a cold so I am going to try to nip it in the bud. But before I curl up under my blanket I just want to give a bit of a shout out to some fellow Craft Soupers who took part in the BCTF. Do check them out – there are some flippin talented people in Yorkshire and apologies if I have missed anyone out!

Dove Street Pottery, Leigh Shepherd Designs, Ruby Spirit Designs, Sprink Lark, Swirlyarts, Sarah Westwood-Thurlow, Corinne Lapierre, Blueberry Park, Brownberrie-Art, Silver and Sparkle, Alison Young Jewellery, The Red Corvid.

ETA: Thought I would add an example of how the costings malarkey works. You make an iten for £4 (cost price), with a bit of profit you can sell it to the shop for, say, £5 (wholesale price). The shop at 100% would then expect to ell it for £10 (net price) but would then have to add on £2 VAT (20%) – resulting in a RRP of £12. If you were sell it as sale or return you’d expect the shop to take around 40% of the net price (ie before VAT) so you’d sell it to them for £6.

4 thoughts on “The British Craft Trade Fair

  1. Thanks for the post. I think a lot of people will be interested in that pricing formula you shared. If you exhibit next year, what do you think you will offer for sale?

  2. It would be the weaving – scarves and small gifts – I think they would be more commercially viable for shops and galleries and I do enjoy making things out of the woven fabric. There were no rag-ruggers but I think they would be a hard sell. I could offer my starter kits but I think it would be difficult to sell both the kits and the weaving, I think it has to be one or the other so it is less confusing. Perhaps this is something I can talk over with the organisers, she really did seem open to give advice – one kinda felt one wouldn’t be buying just a stand but a bit of a business course too! I think I’ve caught her cold though, so I will be wanting a discount! My internet by the way was not a success. There is ‘something’ in the house interfering with the signal so it looks like I’ll be back on the dongle…

  3. Thanks for this post! I found it very interesting as I have been a designer maker for 6 years but although I account for a 100% markup I have never considered the added vat that stores would have to add. This makes my retail price lower than theirs…which is not good as I would be under cutting them!
    I am also reviewing my cost prices for the new year, wholesale is really where I want to be for 2014 so everything needs seriously reviewing…unfortunately!
    Looking through various internet posts your info is the easiest to grasp, thank you 😉
    Have you attended other trade fairs since this post, how did you find them?

    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for taking the time to comment . Alas I have not done any shows or visited any others since this post – I am moving in a bit of a different direction at the moment, focusing on single large pieces rather than things suitable for wholesale. If the BCTF is something you are intrested in doing then I strongly urge you to get in touch with the lady that runs it – she is very friendly, and incredibly knowledgeable and you’d get an invite to go and visit it and you can see how it all works. Do be aware that not all places are VAT registered so it is always worth having a frank discussion with shop owners about what they expect and at the end of they day they often have different ideas from each other! Best of luck! x

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