Frog & Pencil outside Not On The High Street HQ after her Pitch!

Carpe Diem; My PitchUp2016 Experience.

Hello all.

Last Saturday the day finally arrived. With a tummy full of butterflies, my hubby and I were on an early train heading to London for PitchUp2016!

Throughout the previous two weeks, it felt like I lived and breathed this pitch.  I thoroughly researched, carefully chose my products to discuss and nailed down a good structure that would tell my story, show off my products and also touch upon what makes me unique and why I would appeal to a Not On The High Street (NOTHS) customer.

I was feeling pretty confident about my 10 minute pitch and my first run-through came in at 15 minutes…bugger! Even though I have a background in marketing, editing isn’t my strong point. Thank goodness for Lewie! He listened to my spiel and section by section helped me to trim the fat until we were running at just under 9 minutes; genius!

The day before, I was champing at the bit.  I’d successfully completed several rehearsals without glancing at my notes, found a pitch perfect dress and my bags were packed and good to go by early evening.  All I needed was a quality sleep. Hah, good luck Mrs! Sometimes, I hate my brain. I am prone to bouts of insomnia and it kicked in big time, I think I managed three hours and I was NOT a happy Frog!

Luckily, I’m a positive person, so I managed to shake off the rocky nights sleep and focus.  We made it to the train and settled in for the journey, however I couldn’t get rid of my sickly feeling.

We hopped into Richmond with an hour and a half to wait.  We found a nice quiet pub, bought two orange juices and lemonades and I nearly fell off my chair when a £10 note didn’t cover it…I’ve never made a drink last so long in my life. Nonetheless it gave me time to change, calm my nerves and go through it one last time.

At 1.45pm I topped up my lippy, popped on my heels and made my way to NOTHS House.

I was greeted by friendly receptionists and headed to the 3rd floor. The room was filled with experts and suppliers; the atmosphere was buzzing! Looking around, I felt super overdressed as most people were pretty casual. As I waited, I chatted to a lovely jewellery designer Ruby. It turns out we’d already spoken via my blog and twitter, what a sweet coincidence!

As my name was called, I took a deep breath and I was set to seize the moment.

On reflection, it was a positive experience although I’m not a partner…yet! A few minutes into my pitch I felt like I was over prepared, it seemed like my presentation was a bit unexpected. I didn’t even finish what I had planned to say or ask my questions. To sum it up, she loved my products. I showed her my Little Bespoke Book, Ready-to-Write, Portraits and my Alpaca collaboration pieces (still currently top-secret) to show them what a semi-bespoke collection could look like from Frog & Pencil.

Her feedback was great.  She really enjoyed my Little Bespoke Book, especially how personal it could be and hadn’t seen anything like it before. However, her concern, like mine, was the simple fact that it’s too Bespoke for their website to handle. She liked my use of colour, admired my illustrative designs and thought that I had a great eye for detail which was all a nice little confidence boost. She believed there is a gap in their market for Ready-to-Writes and would like to see me develop those further along with my semi-bespoke collections.

She liked my portraits and suggested I speak with the Home Team and proceeded to sign me up. Thankfully, I brought loads of examples of my work, including other portrait pieces. I chatted with the Home Team who liked my designs but they already have a partner who paints people in a similar style. They suggested I come up with new ideas for designs that include my personal elements but without the garland and then to e-mail those over. This is a tough one. I believe that the garlands I paint are essentially my signature.  I’ve spent years battling to find my style and now I have it, do I want to change it?  I don’t want to discount their helpful suggestion so It’s certainly a point I need to spend some serious time considering.

Overall it was an excellent experience and I’m happy I signed up. Not only to gain their advice but I discovered so much about my business in these last few weeks and that is invaluable.  It’s also always beneficial to push yourself and wander out of your comfort zone for a while. Alongside that, it’s exciting to know that they connected with my work and it’s something that could sell on their marketplace.

Be that as it may, I wish they had given a little more input into what those minutes would be like. All we had to work from was to sign up for a ten minute pitch, bring a maximum of five products to discuss and that they shouldn’t be too big.  It’s quite an open brief. I spent a lot of time working on this and I won’t lie, there were points where I stressed myself out so much I was quite emotional. It didn’t need to get that far. Essentially, it was a casual talk about what I do and I didn’t need to prepare as much as I had.

My advice to those who are going up to pitch is this. It’s a very relaxed environment and I would treat it like a chat. Know your products/business inside out and be prepared to maybe answer questions on why you’re unique and why you would appeal to a NOTHS customer. But I certainly wouldn’t have called it a ‘Pitch’, it obviously meant something different to me. Additionally, wear something that you’re comfortable in. Even though I felt pitch ready in my outfit, being so overdressed did make me feel a little self conscious…which is stupid right!? But it happens.

I truly appreciate the time and guidance. Like I said it’s an experience I’m pleased I went through and I picked up a lot which is always priceless.

I have to remember that I’m still a newbie and everything is a learning curve. My plan now is to work on my semi-bespoke ideas and create new Ready-to-Writes to present on my return. In the meantime, I have products made and waiting to sell, so I may set up an Etsy shop or apply to sell on Folksy; stick around and we’ll see where that leads.

Thank you to NOTHS for seeing me and if you’ve signed up for future events I wish you all the best of luck!

Until next time you lovely bunch,

Cx

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