Superpeach at The Autumn Fair 2015
I've never thought that by setting up Superpeach, I'd done anything special.
To me, I did what made sense: I was unhappy with my job, so quit to do what would make me happy.
So when I was asked to speak at this year's Autumn Fair at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, I was extremely flattered (and baffled) to be given such a huge opportunity.
As always, it all started with a coffee! A few weeks before the Autumn Fair, I sat down with the wonderful Melissa, who filled me in on all the details.
The Spring Autumn Fair is a bi-annual gift and home trade event. Since launching in 1990, the event has gone from strength to strength with 29,000 UK and international visitors flocking to the Birmingham NEC to find this season's must-haves.
Being only a few weeks before I was set to present had already made me so nervous let alone the attendance figures! Moreover, I hadn't prepared a presentation since my university days and I felt daunted by the prospect of presenting to CEOs of global companies when I was just a tiny startup!
But I knew an amazing opportunity like this was not to be missed, so I set off to prepare the best presentation I had ever done - if I was going to do this, I was going to give it my all!
I wanted to present something that no one had seen before so decided to go for a less conventional Prezi presentation over PowerPoint. I decided to base my presentation around growing my Superpeach tree; from planting the seed, to watering the sprout and watching my tree blossom - this would symbolise the conception of Superpeach to the website going live.
After numerous rehearsals in front of my family (and my poor dog who has probably learnt my presentation off my heart), I set off to Birmingham, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was going to do this! I was ready!
Despite a terrible coffee spill on the train, I arrived at the National Exhibition Centre buzzing with excitement (and nerves!). When I stepped foot in the huge venue I just took everything in - there was so much going on; so many people and so much to see!
After whizzing through check-in and collecting my badge, I set off to find my friend, Tamsin who was running one of the stalls with her family.
I can't even begin to describe how grateful I was to see a friendly face! Tamsin immediately calmed me down and introduced me to her mum who, after taking one look at how big a bag of nerves I was, adopted me as her daughter for the day by giving me endless words of encouragement and support - just what I needed!
To combat my nerves, I decided to make my way to the stage early to really gauge the atmosphere. The stage was not in an enclosed room but set in the vast open space of the venue meaning that people would be casually passing by and stopping in. In a way, this setting made me feel calmer as it was much more informal than I envisioned.
I'm the type of person who freaks out and overthinks until the point of no return so when it was finally time to present, I took a deep breath and put on my biggest smile as I walked onto the stage. Let's do this!
Let me tell you, practise really does make perfect! If it hadn't been for my hours of practise I can guarantee I would not have managed to pull off what I did on stage! When I got going, I began to feel more confident and relaxed and eventually was thoroughly enjoying myself. Mid-presentation, I remember thinking, "Hey, this is actually kind of cool!" and held my head up higher - I felt proud to finally be able to show off the presentation I had worked so hard on - it was a fantastic feeling!
After the presentation I was positively overwhelmed with questions from the audience. I felt so thankful that people had taken on board what I had to say and wanted to know more so I really took my time to answer them as best I could. It was a humbling experience to be able to give advice to others who also wanted to chase their dreams.
I even got interviewed by the TV crew after which was AWESOME, although I was super giddy and hyper having gotten off stage which made for some funny screenshots of my crazy facial expressions!
By the time it came to take my train home, I was exhausted. It had been a stressful 2 weeks but it was definitely worth it!
Although I was lucky enough to be able to share my experience, I was also reminded that I am no expert, and having no previous experience in setting up a business, I've had to continually use my own judgement to make decisions - some wrong, some right. I'm still learning a lot every day and sometimes it can be really scary, but I would highly encourage everyone to follow their dreams because it really is worth it - don't undervalue the importance of your happiness!