After winning a place on the "Great British Design in New York
" Trade Mission with the UKTI
, Jin Designs travelled across the pond to research the US home and giftware market with the potential to export products to international retailers. Here's an account by Designer and Founder of Jin Designs, Jinny, as she visited New York for the first time...
Trade Mission to New York
Winning this trip was the best start to the year that I could ever imagine. It was a chance to take Jin Designs to the US and investigate trade opportunities and to research whether there was the potential to grow the business globally. It was also a great networking opportunity. I got to travel and spend time with 10 other businesses, some larger than others, but all essentially with the same goal. To grow and be successful - however that was measured.
A special mention has to go for the flight. This wasn't just a normal flight to the US. We had won a place on Norwegian Air
's new Dreamliner plane from Gatwick to New York. Our seats were in Premium Class and it was the perfect start to the trip. It was an extremely comfortable flight and ideal for business travellers. After a few hours we touched down in NYC and our Trade Mission began.
Day One - Sunday
Visit to NY Now
It was straight to the Trade Fair, NY Now, which is the one of the biggest home, lifestyle and gift events in the world. Having just exhibited at Top Drawer in London's Olympia
I was very interested to see how a US trade show for giftware would compare. I was also there to investigate whether it could be a place for Jin Designs to exhibit in future years.
We visited the British Pavilion area of the show. This section is where British Brands were exhibiting. It was a great opportunity to talk to those who had already made the step. I learnt a lot from this. Talking to other British brands and hearing their stories of how they have managed to overcome the challenge of exhibiting abroad was very inspiring. It certainly felt like an achievable goal.
It was also a chance to visit the Jin Designs Showcase where a selection of products were on display. Each day I was updated by the British Jewellery & Giftware team who were looking after the Showcase on my behalf. I was given contact details of prospective buyers who were interested in further information on Jin Designs products. This was the first step for Jin Designs into the US market.
Day Two - Monday
Visit to the British Consulate
Here we were given an opportunity to find out further information on the logistics of growing a business in the US. For example, how to get the products to market, how to deal with US Distribution, Banking and Finance, how to set up a business in the US. We heard from a number of different speakers who were able to give us valuable insight on these aspects. It was fascinating. There was a lot to learn and a realisation from a few that it wasn't an easy task. However, we were in the right place to find support and advice. We got to meet our UKTI Trade Advisors in New York - a fantastic team who worked hard to help us to establish meetings with US buyers and distributors. They also provided a great source of information on the US marketplace.
Day Three - Tuesday
Back to NY Now plus a Visit to a US Retailer
In the morning we were free to do our own investigations. I went back to the trade fair to get an update on the Showcase and explore the venue. I spoke to a number of different exhibitors across each section. I was particularly impressed with the Accent on Design area of NY Now - an area where the focus is on emerging design brands who are original, creative and contemporary. Maybe somewhere for Jin Designs in the future?
After that it was a visit to the Tabletop section. It was here I discovered Lionel Richie's new tabletop range. Being a keen piano player, I'm a big fan of the man and if only I had gone there on Sunday I would have met him. (See him here
) Alas! You can't win them all.
In the afternoon we took a trip organised by the UKTI to Grace and Favor
in Brooklyn. We met the Founder of this unique home decor store, Andrea, who gave us a valuable insight into what retailers in the US are looking for in terms of dealing with British Suppliers. And also what the US consumer is looking for. It was very informative.
Day Four - Wednesday
Meetings and Investigations
Today was a day to meet up with potential business contacts and New York retailers. I followed up on leads which included meeting a well known sales agent in the home and giftware industry. I also made contact with a US distributor who is able to provide the warehouse and logistics support when Jin Designs is ready to make that move into the States. Time was also spent investigating relevant New York homeware shops who could be interested in Jin Designs products. Some people would call this shopping. For me it was very much investigative! I walked many miles this day. It was fantastic to see the City. I loved it. What a great place.
Day Five - Thursday
This was the last day in New York and time to head back to the UK with Norwegian Air. All the businesses on the trip met up to exchange stories on their adventures. It seemed like it had been a very successful trip for all of us.
I can't tell you how much I learnt from going on this trip. It wasn't just in terms of the US market, but the UK too. It has made me assess where Jin Designs is in the home and giftware industry and where I want it to be. Not just next year. But in years to come. Since I have returned I've made several big decisions which will help to grow the business here in the UK. In turn I hope that will extend to global markets in the not so distant future.
Being around other businesses and seeing how they operate was very interesting but also helped to see what is achievable. It's not always as complicated as it seems. It's just finding the right people to work with, having the confidence to let go of certain areas of the business and having the time to focus on the areas where you can make a difference.
It's been an interesting few weeks. I never realised how much support and advice is available from the UKTI. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to enter the Great British Design in New York Competition
. And even more grateful that they chose Jin Designs to be a part of this trade mission. There's definitely potential for Jin Designs. And I'm really excited about what lies ahead.
A big thank you to the UKTI, both in the UK and the US, and to Norwegian Air who have helped get our businesses well and truly off the ground!