Salut! Parlez vous anglais? …Oh good!
We visit UK trade shows each season to seek inspiration, find the up-and-coming trends we love, to then purchase products we hope you’ll love! This year, we decided to crank it up a notch and travel to Maison et Objet in Paris, to see if there was anything we were missing out on and to find some new international suppliers. I tried to brush up my GCSE French before our trip, but once we were amongst the fluent French speakers, I soon realised I wasn’t one of them! Luckily – most of their English was much better than my French!!
In the same week, we visited Top Drawer in London and the Christmas show in Harrogate (you can never be too organised!) before venturing to Paris. We got up super early, mentally donned our berets and hopped on the plane from Birmingham International to Paris Charles De Gaulle.
Once we landed, we were able to get a super handy shuttle bus from the airport, straight to the show. We popped our cases in the cloakroom and we were off! As we entered there was a real buzz about the hall, exhibitors were playing music from their stands and for us, as first timers to the show, the feeling of the unknown was really exciting!
I find that trade shows have a certain smell when you walk in. It’s hard to describe as it doesn’t smell of anything in particular, but with it comes a feeling of anticipation to find your new favourite thing! Sometimes, all it takes is one product to make you feel inspired and ideas snowball from there.
We planned our route around the hall and began our expedition around the exhibition (try saying that after a vin rouge!). We started in Hall 1, ‘Smart Gift’, which lead on to ‘Fashion Accessories’ combined with ‘Kids and Family’. Our plan was to look but not buy initially, as we didn’t know what else we would see! As an avid note writer, I take up the role of ‘scribe’ while we are at shows. I try to jot down as much information as possible about the suppliers as we are talking to them, so we can remember which is which when we go back through the notes later. Picture Karen Brady on The Apprentice making notes about the candidates – but with personalised stationary, and that’s pretty much me (but definitely less glamorous!)
Once we had done these three halls, feeling like we had made good progress after seeing and meeting lots of lovely products and people, we sat down for a late lunch and a coffee and had a look at the map to see where to head next. It was then we realised that the three halls we had completed were the smallest of eight! Parc des Expositions is honestly like the NEC on steroids! It dawned on us that perhaps the trip to Paris was slightly more glam on paper than in reality – we were already exhausted!!
It became our mission to make it to the Light & Living stand in Hall 5B before the end of the day.
The stands for Light & Living are always amazing, with this one being three times the size of those we have seen previously at Spring/Autumn Fair. They also have a prosecco bar…which I admit was probably our main source of motivation by this point!
You’ll be pleased to hear we made it! Our rep Martin poured us a glass of prosecco, which we are eternally grateful for, showed us round the stand and we placed our first Parisian order just before they shut the doors for the day.
After a dramatic Uber journey (a story for another time!), we arrived at our hotel, had some dinner and discussed how we had found day one at the show and which were our favourite suppliers so far.
We woke up the next day a bit tired and achy – but excited for the day ahead nonetheless! We made our way back to Parc des Expositions, picked up where we left off in Home Accessories and somehow managed to make our way around the rest of the halls too. Within fifteen minutes we had all decided we needed to redecorate our homes immediately. The stands in these halls were like nothing we had seen before. Some of them were huge! You could comfortably live in them and probably still lose each other! As you approach the stands, you stop to take it all in and try to figure out how they manage to get them into the halls and assemble them. The amount of planning it must take is hard to imagine!
It’s funny how you see themes go from stand to stand. You can find similarities in the ginormous stands and the tiny stands. Even if they house completely different products! So many suppliers at Maison had used dried flowers and pampas grass to spruce up their stands – and before we knew it, we were ordering some for the shops!
We were up bright and early for our third and final day and went back to the suppliers we had seen and loved on the first day to place orders with them. We caught the plane home, suitcases and Toblerone’s in tow and began the waiting game for all the shiny new stock arrive at our lovely little shop. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been buying and hope you love the products as much as we do!
P.S. we may have snuck off to the Eiffel Tower at one point – but it would have been rude not to when we had new passport covers to photograph!!