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It’s been a while since I’ve written for the blog and that’s more to do with lack of time than topics to share!
The last few months have been incredibly busy as the growth of JoJo globally continues at a pace.
The first few months of the new year are always busy for us in International. There’s no space for January blues or a slow, easy launch into a new season. Pretty much right up until Christmas we were meeting with key accounts in New York, Seattle and Vancouver giving them sneak previews of the gorgeous Autumn/Winter 2014 ranges.
A whistlestop tour across North America with 6 huge bags and 8 large boxes of samples was not just an energy test but a logistical one – so much so it was only when Alaska Airlines saw us with our luggage that was practically bigger than the plane, that they refused to let us fly and we had to rethink and hire a VERY large car to drive us over the border from USA to Canada.
Despite the snow and the cold, such a frenzy seemed to prevent me and my trusty colleague Emily from feeling Christmassey. Other than the odd glimpse of a tree and baubles out of taxi windows, we would never have known. Whilst everyone back home was shopping for presents we were working out how to persuade a taxi at Vancouver airport to not charge us double just because we looked like we were moving house!
As soon as Christmas is over it then slips into trade show season with all the major shows around the world taking place at almost exactly the same time !
Our first show of the year is the ever-busy ENK show in New York. After so much success in the last 18 months we opted for a bigger booth – the biggest yet – with two entrances, four desks and enough space to comfortably work with customers without fighting over samples. This was BY FAR the busiest show we have witnessed and the larger booth paid off with back to back appointments for three solid days.
Of course making the booth look great in the first place was no easy task as we found ourselves this time on or hands and knees putting our own new flooring down as well. But it looked great and we were the talk of the show.
We then returned to a round of key account meetings in Germany where we just happen to have three very large customers who just can’t make it to London. With slightly fewer bags a crazy three day trip started with a stop in Munich, then into the depths of German countryside finishing with a stop in Berlin with an hour spare one night to at least see what’s left of the Wall! Again, all worthwhile and all successful – just not the best of timing when the next big trade show is two days later in Paris. So whilst half the team flew straight to France from Germany the other half drove from London and took the ferry complete with a truck ‘full of JoJo’.
Playtime Paris is a new show for us – and a little bit of a risk because for years it has been about start-up brands erring on the side of artsy and crafty, contemporary and cool. We can hold our own but we’ve always wondered if we were not quite right for such a ‘showy’ show.[/caption]
Other than a distinct lack of interest from the French retailers we had three glorious days of new European customers fall over themselves with excitement about the new kid on the block. A show we will definitely be returning to in July.
A week later and we were back over in New York for the huge NYNOW gift and home show. A show where retailers can buy anything from cards and lighting to baby clothes and jewellery.
As our non-clothing offering grows and grows, it’s a good show to let customers see the other side of our business but we also take a lot of orders from stores who only go to this show and despite the shocking combination of horrendous snow storms in Manhattan and much of East Coast America, plus the Superbowl happening at the same time, we still produced some great new accounts and orders and five days of awful conditions still gave us a good show.
A week later and as I write this I am currently sat on a plane on my way to South Korea and then Japan. The former to entice new customers and possible distributors, the latter to support our current distributor at the Playtime Tokyo show. More of that in a separate blog to follow!
And then once back we are off to New York for the March ENK show which seems so soon after the last one! We already have appointments booked in and we’re looking forward to a hiatus for a few months before they kick off again in July.
An exhausting few months but thoroughly rewarding. Thanks to our attendance at all these shows and with the help of our fabulous Sales Reps across America and Canada we have taken on 97 new stores in just 7 weeks. This is the most pronounced spike of growth I’ve witnessed in the department and has brought with it a whole new set of challenges which we all relish with the opportunity to triumph.
We’ve also had the launch of our amazing trade website which makes shopping for retailers super slick yet this one lets you buy last season, current season and the next season. No easy feat for our IT team to master but one which they’ve conquered and is up and running and revolutionising how our established accounts can buy from us.
So a great start to the year with so much yet to come…