The Indian Font

Shruti Barton MA Creative Economy

Spot the Difference: A Lesson in Visual Merchandising.

WARNING: This post contains a heady mix of serious self-depracation and self-promotion…antagonists of either need not read on.

Market Trading Part I

One of the most enjoyable learning processes of the Easthetic startup experience was getting to grips with how the general public was going to experience Pozzy, our reusable eco-friendly flower carrier. We’d already become accustomed to buying fresh flowers for prototyping, market research, photoshoots and business presentations so all viewers could see how the product worked. It was also becoming, I must say, rather enjoyable having fresh flowers in our homes at this increased frequency. So flowers seemed like our obvious starting point for any trade fair display. Then came our initial brainstorming:

Thanks to some connections within Kingston (aka art student of Penrhyn Road here’s thanking you kindly), Daisy was able to source  a vintage wrought iron mannequin which, with cashmere cardigan in tow, was used to display Pozzy number 1. It was agreed that the girls Winnie and Shruti would model Pozzy number 2 and 3 (yes, a lot of flowers for props, we got stung with the cost of buying these every time until we finally found decent artificial ones). For  a more playful look, the team opted for a uniform of stripes à la Breton: the French navy seamen boys meet chic Parisien Coco Chanel girls (in our dreams at least).

Now, what to do with the actual table itself?  Our online branding was black and white, simple and clean, whilst our company name suggested elements of the East so in a bid to combine the two I suggested the use of some Balinese sarongs to dress the table. Now I must confess, not everyone in the team was a fan of this accessory (Gott). And given the quality of the table, he was quite right not to be so. Being the only established member of the team not renting student digs (sorry guys), I was able to transport some interesting artifacts from home to include a moroccan lantern to hide our pens and stickers, a wicker picnic basket to keep extra stock in and flora and fauna by way of a pot of mint.  Gott brought his bunting, Daisy printed out our company sign on a board and Yella packaged and priced up stock with hand printed tags to give what became a cross between a vintage tea party and t-shirt memorabilia stand at a music gig (thanks Karin). I guess you could say we were trying to create “meaningful relationships with customers” courtesy of IDEO.

Well, for all this team working, Easthetic won Best Company, with 2 judges whispering in my ear that we would have won other prizes including best Trade Stand too but it wouldn’t have been fair on the other teams (see, told you there was self-promotional content in this blog) . So as you can see, our stall on the face of it did pretty well. Or so we thought. The following week came the feedback session from one of the judges, Yash. Now Yash is a seasoned designer, MACEr and ex Market Trader himself so he knows a thing or two about how to present his wares. He was pretty direct with his feedback: did the Balinese sarongs have anything to do with the Pozzy itself? (Answer: no) Did we really need the pot of mint? (Answer: no) Was the cashmere cardigan for sale? (Answer: No) Did we need ALL our stock on the table? (Answer: you guessed it) . Can you spot any more faux pas here?

Visual Merchandising

With constructive feedback in hand, off we went in search for inspiration utilising the skills of visual merchandisers from our favourite stores. For efficiency, and in true Apprentice style, we each targeted varying boutiques and handmade stores (by boutique I mean TK Maxx and by handmade I mean B&Q), communicating seamlessly smartphone to smartphone via Facebook, Instagram and FaceTime to agree on suitable paraphernalia to use for our stall. The realisation that we did not need to tie in those Eastern roots certainly simplified matters.

It became apparent that the most successful element of our market trading activity was in fact the Breton appareil I mentioned earlier. Given the French have a love of all things sophisticated and charming, we further explored this theme and thanks to Catherine Morel stumbled upon an innovation by Chanel, a pop up Mother’s Day Flower Stall that had appeared in Covent Garden around this time. Here are a few futher leaves from my sketchbook:

Market Trading Part II

Brainstorming done and a dent in the company bank account, we were ready to unveil our new look. But I know what you are thinking, how does all this equate to sales, right? Well, with the understanding that our target audience is largely female professionals aged around 30, who buy flowers to beautify their homes or as gifts for their loved ones, we thought it important to show them how the product was used, and create a market stall which was inviting (so many flowers, how can you resist?), sophisticated (white and beige colour theme), natural (use of wood) and fun (spotty tablecloth). Our sales have been rising steadily and we must have done something right as we won Best Trade Stand at the last 2 competitions. Here’s a selection of photos from the 3 last fairs we attended. Can you spot the difference? Thanks to Yash for our priceless lesson in visual merchandising!

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