Last Sunday I presented 5 awards for the best stand display for Pure London at Kensington Olympia. Whilst this was an unexpected opportunity passed on by a very good friend I grabbed it with both hands. I am very much a positive person and grab most opportunities as you never know where things may take you.
My role was to walk round the fair and select my top 3 stands with a winner from 4 categories with one overall winner:
FOOTWEAR & ACCESSORIES
Having worked in visual merchandising for 20 years, I have seen many shop/window displays. I have my own personal preferences and selected favourite stores or windows with colleagues on different levels. To be asked to judge and be a critic of the industry was an honour.
In the beginning, it was difficult to be critical while looking at the overall picture, being objective and taking consideration of the varying sizes, spend, quality and creativity of each stand. In a time when large stores are closing, retail is struggling, its amazing to see so many brands building there empires and listening to the positivity they have. There is a real sense of passion in each designer/owner
Unfortunately there is still a real disconnect between “creativity” and “business”. You have the majority that understand that without the 2 you cannot survive, if you go too far either way you can slightly lose sight of what your message to the client is. In my opinion there is still a few brands that don’t take Visual Merchandising seriously and just spread product out so that you just cannot see the wood from the trees.
The brands that stood out for me were the ones that clearly found that middle ground and that bit extra. These brands used their space wisely which created a stand that was compelling and stood out above all by been playful, engaging and on brand.
The actual presentation was a bit nerve racking if I’m being honest. I thought I’ll have a cheeky glass of wine to settle the nerves.
Julie Driscoll MD of ITE-Experience introduced me to the crowd of 200+ exhibitors. I gave my slight awkward wave to the crowd and we began. Having given my reasons for selecting each winner, they were called up individually handed their cut glass trophy and we had our pictures taken. I began well, stuck to the script a little but as I looked up at the crowd my mouth became drier and drier, it was quite nerve racking standing there in front of people that don’t know who the person is critiquing there hard work.
What got me back and gave me the confidence to continue was the 20 years experience gained working with great mentors and the strong belief i have in my own ability.
What felt like an hour actually passed quite quickly and afterwards I actually felt very good about my time in the spotlight. It was a great experience and I very much appreciate the opportunity to grow, learn and develop further as an individual. If you are not moving forward then you are standing still.