This year I travelled down to Birmingham with a fellow member of Gallery at 12 - Jo Hill , Jo attended as the representative of the gallery which won an sbs RT on the 1st October 2011, and I won my RT on 26th February 2012 - you can view my profile on the sbs website too.
I had also arranged to meet another Staffordshire winner, Michelle Jones of Rosebud by Design, as Michelle was attending by herself and it was her first event.
So the three of us climbed the stairs together.
The first thing we needed to do was to collect our name badge - again this year these had our company names not our twitter names - I came prepared with my own badge with my twitter name @pearlysmith on, which I made prior to the event.
Then we entered into the hall and headed straight for the refreshments - and a cup of earl grey - of course by then we had already met several winners and entered into conversations with many people!
We had an hour or so of Networking to start off with while others were meeting the buyers - those sbs winners who chose to could register to meet Ryman, Robert Dyas and/or Red Letter Days to pitch their business to them
I had a few people I really wanted to meet up with, some to discuss potential business collaborations with and others just because we had been tweeting on #sbswinnershour over the last year or so, and wanted to put faces to names and catch up in person - more of #sbswinnershour later.
here are just a couple
|Felicity Brown of @HoeGrange +Hoe Grange Holidays|
|Graydon of @shrewsmorris|
After the mornings networking there then followed a presentation by Theo Paphitis - this was introduced by Kypros Kyprianou
- he then introduced the CEO of sponsors DHL, ilaw and Red Letter Days ( My mate Bill!)
|Bill Alexander Red Letter Days|
Then Theo Paphitis took to the stage
and after talking about what would be happening later during the day he then introduced Chris Wheeler of Metal Frog who has designed the website,
Theo and Chris then introduced the new look sbs website - this was all looking very exciting to me but little did I know what was about to happen!!! Chris gave us a tour of the website and arrived at the Stats page.
The stats page has two parts the first is about number of tweets, top tweeters etc using #sbs each week - and the second is similar for #sbswinnershour - oh my giddy aunts!!! sbswinnershour has been recognised as part of sbs and has its own page on the sbs website! to say I was thrilled was a slight understatement - this is because back in July 2013 I posted a discussion on the sbs page on linkedin which asked the question 'You know how on twitter we have county and interest hours on specific days and at a set time, do you think we should have an sbs hour to promote each others business - or do you think that may be we have too many of those hours going on as it is?'
Well that was the start of #sbswinnershour on Tuesday July 30th I launched #sbswinnershour and it was an instant success, in fact we trended on twitter for several weeks - I continued hosting it for four or five months although I am sure that most participants hadn't even realised that I was hosting - I then decided it would be much better if all the winners had a chance to host it, so I then started asking for volunteers - we currently have hosts planned for the next 2 months or so!
But that wasn't the end of it, When Theo and Chris were introducing the stats page for sbswinnershour Theo was prompted by a lovely winner at the front of the hall to mention me in in person - which he duly did and invited me to stand up - I was at the back of the hall,
so I stood up and gave everyone a wave, then sat down again, Theo continued talking about #sbswinnershour but I don't really remember much more about that session, I received a tap on the shoulder and turned round to see the official photographer there asking me to stand up for a photo,
|still in shock!|
the rest is something of a blur! I have to say I am very grateful to Theo Paphitis for giving me the recognition for #sbswinnershour although before the event I was quite happy with the anonymity!!!!
Then thankfully came lunch - a time to calm down and to catch up with more winners - so many people to say hello to and meet face to face after so many months of tweeting! Also we had the opportunity to get a Staffordshire winners photo at the sbs event banner for potential press releases later
|from right to left - Jo Hill of @Galleryat12, Me @pearlysmith , Michelle Jones of @Rosebudbydesign +Rosebud by Design Umesh Samani of @Specialistscars1|
After lunch there was a question and answer session with Theo and a panel of inspirational and successful businesses -
the panel comprised of Judy Naake who brought St Tropez to UK
Judy reckoned that half the women in the room would have used St Tropez, I have to say I was in the half who hadn't - I hadn't even heard of it but worked out fairly soon what it was all about, the point was though that she had seen the potential of something she believed in and worked out a way to successfully market it - so much so that she sold it for £70million
Julienne Callede co founder of Made.com a young Frenchman who has made a successful business in the UK based on the idea of cutting out the middleman connecting directly with the designers - which I guess is what we in Gallery at 12 are offering on a much smaller scale - because we aren't selling our work through galleries that charge large commissions, we are able to keep our prices realistic! .... and yes there seemed to be a fair bit of swooning going on!
Rob Forkan - founder of Gandy's flipflops - a totally inspirational business that set up following his family tragedy in the 2004 tsunami - now 10% of all profit going to fund an orphan programme.
There were several interesting questions asked during the session and some winners pitched their businesses at the same time requesting mentoring, or business opportunities - most of these requests ended positively.
After the Q&A all new winners or first timers to the event had their photo taken with Theo Paphitis.
I patrolled the queueing winners trying to pick out more winners I hoped to network with, so difficult picking people out - We all spent a lot of time peering at peoples chests trying to read name badges and work out who they were
A long term twitter friend Joyce Connor - as lovely as I had imagined
|Joyce Connor |
and here is Michelle having her photo with Theo Paphitis
The end of a very very exciting and eventful and inspiring day - thank you Theo Paphitis and Ryman for yet another fabulous day