MESH took a stand at the Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) in February. This was the second time and the lessons learned from the November Fair were applied this time. So that instead of trying to create our own rods and poles and shelving we hired the services of someone who provided what our designer wanted. We also put up a very small panel explaining in a sentence what we do and displaying WFTO logo. The logo attracted visitors who may have passed us by without it.
Our focus products were eri silk hand spun scarves from Little Flower, kitchen, dining room and bedroom linen from two north Indian weaving suppliers and some new Christmas balls from Kashmir. The scarves attracted the most attention and interest especially as they are good for winter wear and the process to make them is non-violent.
We did not secure any orders at the time of the fair but have several good export leads and one of the buyers has since visited MESH Delhi shop and purchased samples. Important for us was also finding a new domestic customer in a Chennai, a city where MESH products are not presently represented.
Our stand was close to SIPA’s and the support and friendship of fellow Fair Trade friends was appreciated. Panchu shared a very useful buyer contact form which he uses at such fairs which I used to feed back data directly from the fair to our export department for follow up.
On wondering around we also met a new supplier working with women with disabilities in Anantapur, A.P. we have made our first order and hope to build up that relationship over time.
Trade Fairs are not cheap, this one cost us about Rs 80,000, for the space, decoration and travel expenses. SMC/Sida supported us with funds through IM Soir to meet the cost of this fair. The results need to convert into long term relationships, the real work begins now.