AUTUMN//WINTER 2018 45 44 AUTUMN//WINTER 2018 AS OVERALL WINNER OF THE COMPETITION, I WAS AWARDED A FREE STAND AT STATIONERY SHOW LONDON IN APRILTHIS YEAR,TOO;AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITYTO GET MY PRODUCTS IN FRONT OF LOTS OF BUYERS!! One person who has taken full advantage of the opportunities industry awards can offer is Rani Moochhala, founder of Paper Mirchi. Her business is just over a year old but she is already supplying to some major national retailers thanks in no small part to her getting her product in front of her target buyers by entering industry awards.   Rani describes her journey so far: “I started my business in handcrafted giftwrap in June 2017. I knew I had a product that was different and unique but didn’t have a clear idea of how best to bring it to the notice of retailers and buyers. Being a small business I had a very limited budget, and therefore heavy advertising is something I was not able to afford. So I had to think of other ways of getting my products noticed. “I entered the Manchester LaunchPad competition in 2017 and won a free stand at the Manchester Stationery Show in October and, as overall winner of the competition, I was awarded a free stand at Stationery Show London in April this year, too; an amazing opportunity to get my products in front of lots of buyers!! “My first award in 2018 was the Giftware Association’s Gift of the Year Award and I was thrilled to win the competition in the Design & Craft category, which meant my products were featured in many industry magazines.  As I was exhibiting at Stationery Show London in April, I entered the Stationery Awards, which also allowed me to have my products on display as part of the New Product Awards display. Not only that, but I won the Gift Packaging & Wrap category – more fantastic PR. My business is only just over a year old, and bagging all these awards has boosted my confidence as well as giving my brand a presence in the retail world.’ AWARD WINNERS CASE STUDY: PAPER MIRCHI When the awards are linked to a trade fair, I find the focus created around the entries is really helpful to me as a buyer. However diligent I am walking a show floor, I’m bound to miss something, either because it’s tucked away in a corner of a stand, or because it’s just one relevant product masked by a stand full of otherwise irrelevant products, so I don’t even stop to look. In my role I judge many different awards, across cards, gifts and stationery, and it is very common for the judges (usually buyers) to note down all sorts of products they see while judging, and then visit the relevant stands or contact the suppliers later to follow up on products of interest. There are often additional benefits to entering awards. As Rani Moochhala, founder of Paper Mirchi mentions in the case study opposite, Stationery Show London gives exhibitors an opportunity to showcase their products to all visitors on the New Product stand right at the front of the hall. Many visitors to the show have learned to use this as their starting point. For someone with just an hour or two at the show, it’s a great way to find the one or two standout products needed to make the visit worthwhile. Laura Stoddart is another supplier who has benefitted from being ‘found’ at Stationery Show London. Several influential buyers saw her products on the New Product stand, because she had entered the awards and won, in both 2017 and 2018! Entrants for the GA’s Gift of the Year have the opportunity to showcase their products on the GOTY website from the date the entries open until they open for the following year. This is, in effect, a virtual showroom open to retailer members and non-members. In addition, the winning and highly commended products are displayed on the GA stand at Spring Fair, which is another great new product hunting ground for buyers! Judges at the Henries judge the categories not knowing who the publishers are, but are able to request information on publishers of specific cards after the event. For the buyer judges, this is a helpful way to find new publishers, particularly when you know what you’re missing, need or want to try in your range. Shortlisted entrants or award winners are listed in winners’ brochures and on websites, and often featured in industry publications like this one. So instantly your business or product becomes much more visible, both within your sector and more widely within the industry. Michael Owen’s Lime Stationery & Art is well-established in the market. He always enters several products in the Stationery Awards at Stationery Show London and often wins! He comments: “I love winning awards! Not only does it offer some very nice positive publicity, it’s also a fantastic verification that we’re making the correct choices when we choose brands and products. As a small distributor in a very niche market, the choices we make are very important to us. We only sell what we like ourselves. The judges are always well regarded and have lots of experience within the industry. Winning is like a little pat on the back.” I would suggest that any reason to share a positive story with your customers, staff and other local businesses is worth taking. I believe awards are of huge value to businesses of all types in their various sectors, and I will certainly continue to be involved in any way I can. Lime Stationery &Art’s award- winningTROIKA pen Laura Stoddart’s 2018 award-winning In Bloom notecards Rani Moochhala,founder of Paper Mirchi, receiving her GOTY 2018 award StationeryAwards 2018 winner Rani Moochhala Award-winning giftwrap from Paper Mirchi STATIONERY BIZ:AWARDS SPECIAL STATIONERY BIZ:AWARDS SPECIAL