This time last week I was busy cleaning the house ready for the arrival of my Boden Party clothes and accessories. The whole event was an interesting experience with lots of highs and a few lows but all useful information if you decide to run a similar type of event.
This all happened due to an email I received last autumn requesting new people to host their own Boden party. I had been to a couple of parties that a friend of mine ran a few years ago so I knew the set up and had some idea of what was involved. So I applied and was accepted with the date of 15th March.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Boden is an online and catalogue based clothing brand based in the UK (they do have one store on the outskirts of London but it isn’t easiest place to visit!) They have very popular womenswear and kids wear ranges with some menswear. Basically a Boden party is a chance for people to see, touch and try the clothes so that Boden’s returns are lower because we have had an opportunity to try the garments and have a better idea about how something fits and the right size. It is also a chance for people who have never tried the clothes before to see the quality.
The whole process is extremely well organised and professional with lots of information so that we knew what to do and what to expect. Their marketing department sent me various promotional posters and social media images that we used to advertise the party and they also emailed their local customers to let them know about the party (so it meant I met some new potential clients.)
About 3 weeks beforehand I was sent a couple of boxes of free gifts (to be given to the first 30 customers); some ground coffee; a reed diffuser and some fabulous biscuits and flapjacks to serve during the party (if I’d known haw lovely they were I might have held a few back!) I also received a £50 voucher to buy something to wear during the party.
In preparation I cleared the whole downstairs of the house – my office has never been so tidy! And then the bags of clothes arrived – approximately 500 garments in 35 big bags all held together with a magic system of massive safety pins! And then there were 2 big boxes of shoes and accessories and a couple of boxes of catalogues and paperwork, as well as 5 rails to hang the clothes on. The poor delivery man was exhausted as he is usually only delivers envelopes and parcels!
Luckily I had the help of my assistant Vicci as we organised the stock into different categories and found space for all the rails (I added another one of my own so that the rails weren’t too crammed). We used the dining room table to display a selection of Stella & Dot jewellery and at the other end was where we processed the orders. Boden also supplied a selection of different posters, bunting and leaflets to help promote various offers.
We were advised not to be open all day so the timings were 9am – 2pm and 5pm – 9pm. The morning was definitely more popular!! We were flat out busy from 9.15am to 2.30pm with new and existing clients trying and buying and asking for advice. We then had a break to eat (which had been difficult during the morning) plus a chance to tidy up and try on the clothes that we liked….!!
The evening session was much quieter and everyone had left by 8.30pm so we then started tidying up – this needed to be done then because the clothes were being collected early the next morning to go on to the next party. We finally finished just before 10pm tired and hungry but exhilarated after a fun day!
My learnings from the whole Boden party experience:
- It is a fabulous opportunity to re-connect with old and existing clients
- It is a chance to meet new potential clients as you demonstrate your styling expertise (I had 2 people book personal shopping trips on the day)
- There is the opportunity to make some money as you earn a percentage of the sales at your party
- You need help! It would have been impossible to do all of the organising before, during and afterwards on my own – at the very least; you need someone to be taking the orders whilst you talk to the customers.
- You need more than one way to take the orders – my laptop was incredibly slow for some reason so the back-up i-pad was used and it also meant we could process 2 orders at a time when we were really busy.
- Have some music playing in the background – I forgot to put the music on at the beginning of the day!
- Have plenty of tea and coffee available and some disposable cups, unless you have plenty of mugs!
- Drink plenty of water and eat a good breakfast.
I had a great response from people and it was good fun BUT it was a lot of hard work so if I do it again I will be looking for more volunteers!!
Hosting an event is a great way of engaging your clients and an opportunity for them to bring their friends and spread the word about what you do. It might not need to be on the scale of a Boden party but think what you could be doing….
I annoyingly forgot to take any photos before or during the party but here is a snap of some of the clothes ready to go onto the next party….