Spring Fair puts the spotlight on supporting new retailing talent

Spring Fair welcomed one of retail’s most forward-thinking entrepreneurs on day three, TV Dragon and #Small Business Sunday Founder Theo Paphitis, as part of the show’s continuing ethos to support and guide up-and-coming design and retailing talent and nurture the show’s retail community.

Speaking to a packed audience of retailers, Theo Paphitis, interviewed by The Sun’s Business Editor Ashley Armstrong, said: “I’ve had an incredibly vibrant career being an entrepreneur, it was never a career in my day. Hunger and passion is key, but it can’t be taught. There are different levels of entrepreneurial success. Most entrepreneurs are dreamers. I’m still dreaming, the dreams drive us, but you have to make those dreams come true and that’s the difference, having the drive the realise it.”

He continued by discussing the support he gives to start-ups through #Small Business Sunday, saying “#Small Business Sunday came about as I’d just joined Twitter and got all these followers from starting on Dragon’s Den. One Sunday I thought why I don’t I use these 50k followers to some benefit and thought the first half a dozen that tweet me telling me a little bit about their business I’ll retweet. We read them all, picked 6 and left it at that. The following Sunday my phone goes off again and #SBS was coming in. On the third week I took it to the office, retweeted on the Monday. Every Monday morning we did it and now it’s grown to our event, self-help groups, and forums.”

Offering advice to small businesses, he said, “Business is common sense – don’t be shy, stick your elbows out and know your numbers”, adding that “50% of all small businesses fail in the first 2 years because people don’t know their numbers, they haven’t done their homework. Lots who fail the first time, go on to succeed the second. Learning from their mistakes, finding places to get help, understanding the things that really matter in business. The things you need to sweat and the things you don’t need to sweat because they don’t really matter.”

Asked how can small business manage cash flow post pandemic and cost of living? Paphitis responded, “You’re absolutely right it has been difficult. You couldn’t make it up, with Russia and Ukraine, cost of living, inflation and energy costs, it’s been very difficult for us to plan. We have to build in what we’re doing with some margin for error, but I still believe there is opportunity. As a small business, if you remain agile and survive for the next 3 years and do it in this market you’ll have great foundations.”

Spring Fair continues to champion the most innovative and inspiring start-up businesses who have been trading for less than 18months in its expanding newcomer areas. Buyers can now discover the latest new talent in Beauty First, Kids First, Fashion First, and Gift First, as well as the GCA Debut area in collaboration with the Greetings Card Association (GCA). Following a successful four-year partnership with Autumn Fair, which has supported around 40 start-up businesses so far, Theo Paphitis’s #SBS Small Business Sunday winners are now hosted in the #SBS Village at Spring Fair.

12 new winners and two past winners, who had been unable to exhibit previously due to Covid, presented their designs with some having such a successful show so far that they have confirmed to attend at Spring Fair 2024.

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