Excitement, fear, nervousness, gratitude and all over again. Just such a carousel of emotions unfolded in me every day since mid-January.
Last weekend of January we participated in our first exhibition in 2023. And it wasn't just any show, it was our first abroad and also the biggest so far (judging by the number of dogs entered). Below I invite you to a recap of a journey from Brno.
Two days - one weekend, anyone can do it!
Yes, two days sounds it's nothing, but above all, it goes by quickly. You barely get used to the new location and the new people than it's time to pack up your showroom and head home.
The days leading up to that crucial weekend seem to go by even faster. It takes a while for ideas to mature, all the preparations require a certain number of hours, and the days fly by. If you haven't been following me for long, let me give you a brief introduction to my story. 4hound is my side hustle. It is my mission, my daily life and my world. My regular job is in a completely different world, but it takes up a good portion of my day. That's why my days before the show were particularly short. How do I manage it? With organisation, the support of loved ones, and my persistence.
How my January looked like: 1000 and 1 sticky notes, 15 to-do lists, a few days of despair and bad mood, 20 long walks during which we thought about all kinds of situations and sometimes even dreamed a little. Before the weekend in Brno, we had three more weekends of work, three badminton training sessions, and 15 evenings (and nights) devoted to making products, ordering materials, researching legal formalities and "saving the world." Just kidding, but yeah - it's easier to do it as a team than when you are on your own. So we divided the work and each was responsible for a particular thing.
I won't even start the conversation about formal legal issues, because I can write three pages about that. But I just want to mention that this is in a class by itself and you come across countless different pieces of information every day - none of them are right, but none of them are wrong either. Now interpret that however you want. Yes, that exactly what was going through my mind when we were gathering all the information for selling abroad.
The last day is always hectic
This time we started preparations much earlier than usual. But I've learned something in the past year - a good sleep the day before the event is crucial :) In mid-January, I was very confident about the progress of the entire product manufacturing process. Still, it's never quite calm a few days before we leave. In the last week we received a new exhibition tent, finished the furniture, I also edited the prices myself and prepared all the printed materials. The Czech Republic is also a hunk in terms of its currency. It would be much easier for the first time to choose a country that pays in euros . And I saved this "most fun" thing for the last day of preparation. (yeeey!) When you subconsciously say to yourself that you're at the finish line and "I just need to label it," that process ends up taking more time than making products. Or is it just me who feels that way?
We have arrived in Brno, now what?
I have the impression that we are a really well-coordinated team and everyone gets to work, almost without saying a word. Well, yes, we sometimes give each other a bit mad look. Well, before you imagine how "big" our company is, let me explain that most of the company is under my supervision. If you email me, FB or IG, you are talking to me. However, since such a project is too much for one person, my parents also accompany me to the events. I really can't imagine any events without them anymore.
'Dobry den' still echoes in my head
I was definitely surprised that it is more an exception that Czechs speak English. What surprised me, especially for my generation and the younger ones. Well, that's how our improvisation began. In two days, we spoke almost more Slovenian than English. Slovenian and Czech have a similar tone of voice and you can undarstand certain words, then you add body language to that and somehow comunications flows. I learned that among my products on the shelves I also have a mayor (it's bathrobe, but in Czech it's called župan, which in Slovene means mayor :D).
BioThane® or its imitation?
BioThane® is already an extremely expensive material compared to all the others ones used for dog gear. On the market, there are many pieces of equipment made of imitation BioThane®, that cost 3.5 times less than the original. Therefore, imitation equipment can also be extremely affordable. I'm not saying that it is definitely, because there are many brands that take advantage of the low cost of materials and the lack of knowledge of users to make more profit. But when the price of the product is low, it is difficult to compete and at the same time explain the credibility of the material to someone who encounters BioThane® for the first time. In our case, the interpretation was further more complicated because of lanugage barrier. At 4hound, we use certified BioThane® for our entire regular collection of classic leashes and collars. The material provides comfort and strength, which is crucial to me when making dog gear. It's true that we make the tracking leashes from BioThane® imitation - but we mention that clear and loudly.
And how successful were we?
Whether the exhibition will be successful or not can hardly be predicted in advance. The criterion is not even the number of dogs registered for the event. And how successful were we? To be honest - my first thoughts were "We could be better". Somehow my expectations were higher due to number of dogs and all the expenses I had before. "Was it because we weren't locals, the language barrier, the location of the stand, the offer or the price?" I asked myself. But honestly this was our first exhibition abroad and now we know a bit how Czech market reacts, what they like and what not. Afterall, when I came home, did all the calluclation again I must be proud on us and we did great job! Specially if I compare to our first exhibition in Slovenia, which happened last May (so it's not even one year from first show!!). Honestly, I often expect more from myself, but when I look back, I see what journeyI have walked or better said we made it together, what we have learned and how we always adapt to new (unpredicted) situation. And that's the most important!
It was a weekend of hard work, a slightly longer trip, good food and good company, exploring the center of Brno, and a weekend of laughter because of some Czech words (my apologies to all my Czech readers here). Just as Slovenian is probably strange to them, Czech is funny for us. And after a busy day, the party was guaranteed with a walk through Tesco and reading the product packaging.
I hope you enjoyed my experience in Brno. We have almost 11 full months left of this year and we look forward to meet many of you at the next event. Do you know of an event you'd like to see us at? Drop us a message below or on IG, FB, email and we'll be happy to add another event to our calendar!