We went to the Autumn Fair this week in Birmingham. Its a great place to get ideas and inspiration. It's a huge trade show - somewhere to get stock to add to the shop for the Christmas and festive period. But I go for more than that - I love to be there with other producers to see what the trends are - to get a feel for what people are looking for and shopping for at the moment. The show has a real buzz - its very international, there are hundreds of people and different companies.
I think what I miss more than anything is that there are not more fair trade and handmade products there. Many of the stalls are small enterprises - often with people making their products in their garages, workshops and craft rooms. This is the reason I go, to get the inspiration and chance to chat to fellow artisans.