Diary 1: 6 weeks to Melbourne show- a designer’s diary & behind the scenes look into preparing a collection of homewares & accessories for trade buyers

This has been the fastest year ever– and a very challenging business year.

I’m so excited about the year to come with loads of new design ideas and places to take the Kahuna Bay brand.

Sacha (owner and designer of Escape to Paradise hand bag and accessory brand) & I are exhibiting in Melbourne at the Gift & Home show in August… I’m trying to attempt a calm preparation for the show this year.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to blog about getting ready for the show– something a lot of designers and brand owners don’t share.

This is the biggest show of the year– have you ever wondered how these gorgeous products show up in your local boutique?  Well if it’s a good boutique the owner goes on “buying trips.”  The Melbourne show is open to “trade only.” That means the owner has to prove they own their store with documentation and an application to come to the show.

This is my 5th Design show in the last 2 years.  I remember my first show– I was totally unprepared and had NO IDEA of the amount of detail and preparation that goes into a show.  Imagine the most beautiful in store display you’ve seen– and multiply it by thousands…

A design show is where designers demonstrate to store owners and buyers their amazing products, designs and ways of displaying- or selling their designs.

Today I’m in contact with a new supplier of sea shells from the Philippines.

I’m really excited by this– as it means I’m going to get to bring to the market place a lot of new quality shells and with good packaging.  The supplier is air freighting me from the Philippines some exciting new designs including a “shell garland” — which design originates from the late 1700’s.  I e-mailed him the Kahuna Bay font type and logo as well so it can go onto the sample packaging for the show. This is going to be great as well for our beach wedding customers.

Yesterday I was touching base with another designer- Cristina who owns the Absolutely Gorgeous body care brand out of Melbourne.  Cristina is now using my agent– an agent is someone who sells Kahuna Bay products to trade only clients…  But I’ve also got the amazing range in my showroom– and she’s couriering up more samples of just the tropical range.  We are doing some creative collaboration at the show to get more stores on board– as Cristina has a display in another area (of the same show.)

All in a days work for a designer– at least a couple hours of invoices, phone calls, lead enquiries from stores and e-mail responses.

Last week I managed to dedicate a few hours to painting and sketching as I need to come up with some new original art for my art collection which is stocked in Sydney by well known stores SeaWeed and  Sand as well as Jedos… the art can be found around Australia from time to time in around 30 boutiques and galleries.

The trick with designing a new art collection is the colours have to appeal to a lot of people- or the “average” shopper within a niche market- my niche is tropical and beach design.

You can see some of my first design sketches and mock ups for the show on the Facebook page for Kahuna Bay.

I also looked at flights this morning– as somewhere between now and the next 5 weeks I need to dash off to Bangkok for meetings and some new product idea sourcing.  I could go as early as next week or as late as the last week in July– but that’s pushing it since just packing for the show alone takes 2-3 days.

This afternoon I need to touch base with my jewellery manufactures… I’m designing a new piece that looks like the pearl choker on fabric Carrie wore in Sex & the City… It seems fabric necklaces with ribbon string ties are so in this season.  I don’t like to usually do “what’s in..”  but I try and go for timeless pieces made of stone, natural materials and shell and are beautiful forever and hand made.

Until tomorrow…


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