Via the PonyoSquid page, the brand gained more interest and plenty of questions/feedback/advice regarding the brand which guided PonyoSquid towards alternative routes in future. After conferring with such legends PonyoSquid began to gain confidence to push ideas further and to THINK BIG.
The Glasgow Outbound Skiing and Snowboarding convention, held in the SECC, is a popular outdoor sports show which takes part over a weekend in early October. PonyoSquid contacted the director of the event, Rebecca Bain, to enquire how to apply for a space and also price, required licenses and available stands for smaller independent brands. After emailing Rebecca about the brand and sending appropriate information, PonyoSquid was offered a place at the exhibition at a generously discounted price.
A trade show is a massive opportunity not only to gain market research but also for networking, making money and a way to obtain real market experience. Unfortunately the Glasgow show was postponed until 2014; Rebecca personally explained this was due to conflicting dates with the Manchester Ski show. She then went on to explain PonyoSquid had been put forward for priority booking at the Manchester event, if the brand were interested in attending. The Manchester exhibition is over three times larger compared to the Glasgow sister event. Delighted with the offer PonyoSquid happily accepted the invitation to participate at such a gargantuan event.
Rebecca referred the brand to the Manchester organizer Nico Stanford; Nico was truly helpful and soon became the most frequently contacted person in the PonyoSquid mailing list. Sympathetic to the brands youth, combined with a recommendation from Rebecca, the brand was offered a discounted deal for a huge stand of 4x2m. Laced with hidden legal and installations fees, the trade show was not a simple or cheap endeavor. Armed with a summer funding and donations from the patrons of Dukes Corner, PonyoSquid jumped through every costly hoop and painstakingly signed every contract required.
(outbound skiing and snowboarding convention 2012)
With an up-and-coming event it was time to prototype products to be sold at the trade show. The initial product list compiled during Ponyoception was soon outdated, for some advice PonyoSquid asked followers from previous ski show experience, what their favourite giveaways?
Answers included: Ski wax, lip balm/gloss, torches, ski caddies, ski ties, key rings, pens, whistles and t-shirts.
Prototyping is the most efficient way to find an effective method for speedy production and identifying problems within construction.
• Ski Ties: When units were tested, foam padding (used to protect ski edges) snapped due to poor quality materials.
• Ski Masks: Following performance testing, synthetic fabric was selected for the main body of the mask; due to the nature of 4-way stretch synthetic fabric opaque pigments would crack when under strain. Luckily the problem was resolved but stretching wet dye paste before baking.
• Key Rings: After booking time with a laser cutter the majority of the limited time was spent wrestling with terrible software. When the laser finally began its process, due to poor machine maintenance, the elastic band on the carrier sagged which reset the origin and ruined all production attempts.
WORKING IN THIS TRIAL AND ERROR MANNER GAVE AN INDICATION OF TIMELINE REGARDING EACH UNIT, FOR EXAMPLE:
5MIN – MASKING AND PREP
2MIN – PRINT
5MIN – DRYING
20 MIN – BAKING AT 180DEGREES
Thanks to Norrie Lynn, batches of 30 masks could be baked simultaneously which streamlined production.
Each production step was meticulously documented and updated live to the PonyoSquid page which gave followers and opportunity to like, share and comment on their favourite designs. To encourage crowd participating PonyoSquid launched ‘Share & Like’ competitions offering free hand printed t-shirts and masks. This technique worked well at widening the brands audience with winning responses from as far as Finland.
(gift bags with literature, sweets, business cards and piste maps of Scottish Mountains)