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A Week At The Harrogate Flower Show

The Harrogate Flower Show is a hugely prestigious event – the largest independent flower show in the UK. It has a footfall of 50,000 visitors in the springtime alone and hosts significant competitions in the floristry and garden world.

So, as you can imagine, when the organisers of the Harrogate Flower Show reached out to me this February to ask Kettle & Quill to exhibit in their Home & Gift marquee, I couldn’t turn the opportunity down.

The Harrogate Flower Show was by far the biggest event for Kettle & Quill to date. I spent the best part of a month preparing – buying in new stock, designing a beautiful banner to have on the stand, trying out different display layouts…

But how did the actual week go?

1.        Amazing Customers and Visitors

By far the best thing about the Harrogate Flower Show was the wonderful feedback I received from customers and passing visitors who loved my art. Many people remarked that they’d never seen anything like Kettle & Quill before because we had such a unique, colourful, illustrative style. It was so encouraging testing out Kettle & Quill on a big stage and seeing that it could not only hold its own but stand out in the crowd. Tobias and I had lovely conversations with our customers, and it was so wonderful to meet people face-to-face.

2.        Fantastic information-gathering

As a small business owner, I am constantly learning more about who my customers are, what they are drawn to, and what they want/need from me. The Harrogate Flower Show gave me an opportunity to see first-hand what my customers loved, what price points they needed, and what drew them to my art. It also gave me an opportunity to meet other stall-holders and learn some of the tricks of the trade from them – I now have the name of a new manufacturer who could halve my giftware costs. As mundane as it may sound, this aspect of the Show was probably the most important gain for us in the long term.

3.        Incredibly physically and emotionally demanding

One thing I didn’t expect was how physically draining the event would be: five long days leaving before 7am in the morning and returning at 8pm in the evening; standing all day in a freezing cold marquee; and constant customer service. Tobias and I were shattered by the end of the week! The first day was particularly tough because we only made £40 in sales, and I was convinced I had made a huge mistake in bringing Kettle & Quill to the show. Luckily, things only got better day on day and we ended the event on a high with our weekend customers.

4.        Puffin Collection

After the first day, I decided to bring along my paints and do some live demonstrations. It was a complete hit – customers loved seeing the process of the artwork being created, and I felt 10x more relaxed in my happy place painting! The upshot of this was that I accidentally created a brand-new collection over the course of the week – celebrating puffins! They went down a real storm with everyone, and two originals sold before I even had a chance to put them on the website! (If there are any left, this is your chance to snap a puffin original up for yourself here).


In Summary

Harrogate was an intense whirlwind of a week that transported us out of normal business for a while and taught us invaluable lessons along the way. It was fun, motivating, encouraging, draining, emotionally taxing and unexpectedly productive in ways we hadn’t foreseen. It’s probably going to be a while before we do another event of this size, but we are so grateful for the lessons we’ve learned and the amazing customers we met. Thank you to everyone who visited us and supported us! You made our week!

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