This is the Wonky Chair Design Studio's first Christmas as a trading business, and more importantly, this is our first external blog post.
We don't really consider the Wonky Chair Design Studio as a 'Christmassy' brand. Christmas for us is so saturated by tacky, dreadful and cheap decoration; and that's something we didn't want to be associated with. So to begin with, we didn't even give Christmas a second thought.
However, back in October we were approached by a set designer working on a project for Ted Baker. They were looking for plywood Christmas reindeer to feature in one of their photo shoots. We were very excited to be working with such a brand, especially so soon since setting up. We designed and created the plywood reindeer in the photo above, they use a slotting system so there are no fixings, they simply slot together.
Without any marketing or branding for the reindeer the response and feedback was unbelievable. People were asking if they would be for sale closer to Christmas time. It was an obvious decision for us to make more, so we decided to give Christmas a go.
At this point it was late October, so we had missed the opportunity to make this venture huge, all big retailers get their Christmas items months before Christmas. We knew to make money from this we had to go direct, straight to the end user. You could call this the hard way, not to suggest there is an easy way of course.
Ultimately we're all designers, so sales aren't our strongest trait, especially market sales. But this was the biggest avenue for sales given the time of year. We looked into a few Christmas markets and tried to pick which ones would be the most lucrative for us.
The opportunity to hold a stall at the Cardiff City Christmas Market came through the Centre for Entrepreneurship. It was in late November, which gave us plenty of time to prepare the stock, signage, and the smaller things that often get forgotten about such as packaging etc. It was a great opportunity for us to sell some reindeer and make a quick buck, learn about the market environment, but probably most importantly gain some decent exposure.
We had never been exposed to a market environment before and knew it would be difficult, and it was. Having to quickly develop new sales tactics depending on the assumptions we made from that customer standing in front of us. Having to try and try and try convincing people that they need our product, when in truth nobody really needs a plywood reindeer.
And it wasn't just the market environment that was difficult, it was the whole day, from waking up at six in the morning to walking home in the soaking rain at seven in the evening. Not to mention the thirteen hours in-between of giving your absolute best to sell some reindeer and only being able to convert around one in ten sales.
The experience itself was invaluable to us, three designers with very little experience of sales, really being chucked into the deep end and giving it our absolute best to make a living. We have learnt so much from the experience and perhaps the biggest lesson we've learnt is that selling at an outdoor market is very, very difficult, but none the less great fun.
Blog post by The Wonky Chair Design Studio.