For the uninitiated, the BCTF is THE trade fair for giftshops looking for unique, high-quality, British design for their customers. No mass-produced items or bought-in goods are allowed, and exhibitors are selected according to the show’s high standards. So naturally, we were delighted that Barley Bay was ‘allowed in’ for the second time running.
We’re also something of veterans at the show, because Myra has also exhibited her own textile artworks in the past, some of which are inspired by the Yorkshire countryside. Saying that, we had a potter behind us who said he was onto his 32nd show – now that’s commitment for you!
Not only was it a fabulous opportunity to share our latest greetings cards with trade, we also thoroughly enjoyed the chance to catch up and connect with other craftspeople and see what’s going on in the world of craft.
And of course, we couldn’t resist sticking around ‘oop north’, visiting Ilkley (our spiritual home and where Myra studied textiles) and catching up with old friends.
What does BCTF have to offer greetings card trade customers?
The BCTF is a cornucopia of jewellery, glass, homewares, textiles, ceramics, leather, wood, and more, so it’s the ideal place for giftshops looking to stock up on a range of products, rather than focusing on just one product category.
Those on the lookout for trade greetings cards were spoiled for choice – at our guesstimate, there were over 70 stands selling cards! These were not exclusively greetings cards companies, but also craftspeople such as potters and glass artists who either incorporate their main craft onto cards or are also pretty nifty with graphic design.
Animals were a hugely popular theme, with artists presenting their own unique takes on the theme. This is hardly surprising – after all, almost everyone has a favourite animal. So, it was the perfect time for us to show our Animal Fair range and introduce our latest collection Animal Messengers, which features favourite animals against a white background with witty slogans.
One of today’s trends is for paler colours and word-centric designs designed to appeal to a wide market. While this was evident at other trade fairs this year, we thought that, on the whole, the hugely varied greeting card designs at BCTF were truly art driven rather than simply being a slave to trends.
You probably know already that Barley Bay is bucking this trend, keeping true to our art and providing something a bit different with our rich colour and diverse ranges that can add POW to greetings card spinners!
A lovely chance to chat to greetings card trade customers
A big plus with shows like these is that shops who sell greetings cards can talk directly with the makers face-to-face – something that is often only possible when dealing with craftspeople in the surrounding area. And of course – it’s always a pleasure for us to meet new and repeat customers, as well as new faces.
As a small business, we thrive on feedback. It gives us inspiration, and it gives us our ‘why’. We are flexible and have added designs in the past, following conversations with retailers, especially greetings card shops in more touristy areas.
Retailers were particularly impressed by the complexity of our images and appreciated the detail and sheer amount of work that had gone into each and every design. In fact, one comment we received was from a retailer that was looking for something a bit more rustic! The polished and professional finish wasn’t ‘handmade’ enough for them!
On the flipside, we were also told that our fine art greetings cards were a nice change from the more corporate designs that saturate the market.
After a hectic three days, we finished the show with a well-deserved pint (and glass of wine – no not Prosecco!) at the local dog-friendly pub. Will we see you at BCTF next year?
Like what you see? Drop us an email or call 01908 583316 to discuss our trade greetings card options.