BCTF 2019 AWARD WINNERS REVEALED…

The winners of the BCTF Awards 2019 were revealed at a ceremony held on the afternoon of Monday April 8 at the Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate, where the very best designer-makers are presenting their latest collections to the trade.

The winners are as follows:

Form & Function Award sponsored by The Platform Gallery: Joint Winners – Ellen Monaghan, Helen Eastham Studio, Kevin Hutson, Sarah Saunders Ceramics, Rebecca Perry Ceramics and Cinda Clark Design.

BCTF Award for Excellence sponsored by the Pyramid Gallery: Winner – Melina Xenaki Ceramics; Highly Commended – Ugly Jewellery and DW Glass

Best Newcomer Award sponsored by the Heart Gallery: Winner – Faye Hall Design; Highly Commended – Betsy & Els.

Winner Sandra Vick

Post Newcomer Award sponsored by ACID: Winner – Sandra Vick

Winner Rachel Thornton

The Giftware Association Award for Excellence: Winner – Rachel Thornton

Winner Francesca Marcenaro

The NAJ Award for Excellence: Francesca Marcenaro

Greeting Card Award sponsored by Greetings Today magazine: Winner – Citrus Bunn; Just Because – Betsy & Els; Highly Commended – Claire Baxter Fine Art; Commended – The Three Foxes and Jill Ray Landscapes

Wow Factor Award sponsored by DesignGap/ArtGap: exhibitors selected Kate Toms as the winner from a short list of three, which also included Melina Xenaki Ceramics and Jack McGonicle Ceramics.

Show organiser, Margeret Bunn said: “BCTF is a real celebration of all things British and handmade, and our award winners represent that brilliantly and I am delighted to congratulate them all for their well-deserved accolades. We are very fortunate that our awards are supported by important industry associations, prestigious galleries and trade press, so a big thank you to them all for getting behind the show and supporting the best of British here today.”

BCTF 2019 has proved to be a success, with visitor numbers up and many exhibitors reporting that trade has been exceptional as retailers lined up to place orders on their stands.

“It has shaped up to be a fabulous edition of BCTF,” Margeret confirmed. “Buyers are aware that demand for handmade British products has increased over the years and they are keen to offer something new and unique to their customers. We have some incredibly talented designer-makers from all parts of the UK who are creating the most beautiful crafts, so it’s well worth the visit for gallery owners, gift shops, tourism destinations and other discerning retailers”.

For more information visit www.bctf.co.uk

Press contact: Charlotte Cowell: 01442 863646 / 07725 181974 / charlotte@bctf.co.uk

FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2019 DESIGNER STATIONERY AWARD

This year’s new ‘Stationery Designer’ category has been introduced with the support and sponsorship of GO Stationery, which as a UK manufacturer, is in the almost unique position of being able to nurture a stationery product through its life – from conception and design, right through to retail sale.

Entrants for this Award were asked to supply a maximum of three A3 design boards showing at least three stationery items with the theme ‘The Next Big Thing’.  They had to explain who they thought their designs would appeal to and give an indication of what they thought the likely RRP of each item would be.

This design competition is a unique opportunity for budding stationery designers to work with an experienced production and sales team and see their ideas taken into production and delivered to retailers throughout the UK.  The lucky winner from the finalists below will work with the GO Stationery team to bring their designs to life!

The finalists are listed below, and the Winner will be announced at the Stationery Awards Evening on Tuesday, 30 April.  All Finalists will be allocated two tickets to the Awards Ceremony and will be contacted shortly so that they can nominate who they would like to attend.

The Stationery Designer of the Year 2019 Award finalists are: (this info has also just been revealed on www.stationeryawards.co.uk)

Designer Company
Laura Jackson Laura Jackson Design
Nina Dogmetchi Nina Nou
Soula Zavacopoulos The London Studio
Sian Towner Tiny T-Rex Tales

ENDS

Editors’ Note:

The GO Stationery team is passionate about producing great stationery designs and products for many of the UK’s leading retailers. Based in West London, and proud to be a UK manufacturer, it has a great track record of working with retailers from stationery specialists to fashion brands to develop great quality, market-leading, on-trend stationery.

For further info please contact vanessa.fortnam@stationeryshow.co.uk  | 01666 824624

GUEST BLOG – AN UPDATE ON TOY SAFETY BY BEST YEARS

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As a toy manufacturer it is our responsibility that every toy we offer to the marketplace is safe and fit for purpose.

So first thing any manufacturer needs to know is what is a toy?
A toy is classified as a product designed or intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age. Play does not have to be the exclusive use of the product, so something like a soft toy keychain is also covered because it has a secondary play value. If a product has been designed to have “kid appeal” whatever its primary use, it must also be tested as a toy.

Everything we sell is designed and manufactured to be a toy so this isn’t an issue for us but it does have a big impact on companies which, for instance make toys in the shape of food, or gift food or keychains who now have to ensure their products comply not just to things like food standards but also toy safety as well.

The legislation we follow at the moment is the The European Toy Safety Directive. Ironically this is not legally binding in itself, it only becomes legal if its implemented in parliament by the country, which it has in the UK. On a top line level the directive basically says that a toy must be safe, it must have no sharp edges, no harmful chemicals and no small parts.


EN71 then applies harmonised standards (EN71) to these directives which then makes it legal. If a toy manufacturer has applied these standards to the design and manufacture of their toys they will print the CE logo on the label to show that the toy complies.

Toys must satisfy the essential safety requirements of the Toy Safety Directive – there are 2 ways now that this can be done – one is going down the testing route through test houses. The other is self certification.
On the face of it self certification could sound as if its just a case of saying “Yup. Our toys are safe” but actually it is a lot harder than just testing a single item off the production line.


At Best Years we have a very stable supply chain. Rather than chasing around the Far East to get the cheapest prices we have always worked with the same people going back years and years. This means that we are able to get documentation to trace the yarn we use and any other materials all the way back to the original source. This includes the dyes we use, the cotton for the crochet, the material for our knitted dinosaurs and even the thread we use for the embroidered eyes.


Because we have such a close relationship with all our suppliers we can prove that the toy has been designed to be safe, the materials used to make the toy are safe and the way that it has been made ensures it is safe. This is the process called Self Certification. It moves the emphasis on safety away from a one off sample picked from the sewing line to be tested, to placing safety at the very core of the toy company.

We’ve been working with most of our suppliers for over 10 years and have a good working knowledge of all the requirements so for us its pretty straight forward. However it requires both an in depth knowledge of toy safety and your supply chain plus an awful lot of paperwork to back the whole process up

Our knitted and crochet toys are all designed and manufactured to be suitable for children from birth, which means that we ensure that there are no small part such as plastic eyes, obviously no sharp edges and that the toys can be washed by immersing them in water. You still see some toys which say “surface wash only” but to comply with safety regulations all soft toys must be able to be washed by being totally immersed in water. Anyone who has seen a child chewing vigorously on a toy and then wiping his left over food on it will understand the reason for that rule!

Toy safety is continually evolving and changing as new challenges, new processes and new toys are introduced. In order to ensure that we keep up to date with these changes we attend seminars by people such as Bureau Veritas, an accredited test house.

 Last week we attended one such toy safety seminar last week. The chap who took the seminar has been in toy safety for over 42 years and he has seen many, many changes in his time! He has also seen lots of toy manufacturers being fined for toy safety issues including some very big fines but its important for both consumers and manufacturers to know that people producing poor quality toys are being caught and then pay the price for poor product development.

One of the key issues which challenge many toy makers are the use of chemicals. We now have so much more information about which chemicals are harmful and which are safe than ever before. This has been one of the biggest changes to EN71 in the past few years.
Before accepting dusted down toys for your baby from your kind neighbour’s attic do remember that toy safety evolves and things which were once deemed to be safe would now be banned. There was a toy placed on the market in the 1950s that had actual uranium ore in it! Supposedly it was an educational toy but its not something which would be allowed to be sold today.
And did you know that the green arms on an alarm clock used to be mildly radioactive…

A big change to the regulations over the last couple of years is all the paperwork that needs to be held for each product. There are different processes which need to be followed by manufacturers, distributors and retailers but all of them require paperwork to be held to prove that processes have been followed

1. As a manufacturer we must ensure that the toy complies with essential safety requirements. Technical files, safety assessments, declarations of conformity are all part of the paperwork now required for each toy. We also need to ensure that each toy has our address, a batch code (for traceability), a product code and the CE mark.

2. As an importer/distributor we must ensure that the manufacturer has all the relevant paperwork and that the product has our name and address on it.

3. If you are a retailer it is important to note you also need to ensure that your supplier has the relevant paperwork available. You also need to ensure that your storage conditions and any transport you use (ie if you send the toy to someone) do not jeopardise the toy’s compliance.

Everyone in the chain has a responsibility to ensure the product that ends up on the shelf and is bought by a customer is safe.

A few bite size bits of info:

Decorative objects for festivities and celebrations are not classed as toys – therefore they do not need a warning on them.  The age warning is only used when the product is classed as a toy.

All pen lids now should have air ventilation in the cap – have a look at the pen you’re using…does it have one? This air ventilation will allow the person to breathe if its accidently swallowed.

Warning on toys. Because any warning on the toy is deemed to determine the decision on the purchase of a toy (if you are buying something for a baby you need to know that it is suitable from birth) the warning must be visible to the consumer at point of purchase. This is especially important if you are selling on line. Your product description must include any safety notices or information.

There were a couple of big toy issues for toy manufacturers and for test houses in 2018.

  1. Slime –The issue was that how do you define slime. Is it a solid or is it a liquid as it comes in both forms and therefore could be tested in one of two ways. Since slime includes chemicals Trading Standards verged on the side of caution which generated a lot of negative press as products had to be recalled.
  2. Squishies – these caused a major headache with regards to age grading and several countries in the EU have banned them. They are made from specialised rubberised foam and many have scent added to make them more attractive, ie if the squishy is designed to look like a water melon, then a scent of water melon was also added. The trouble was that the foam can be picked off by little fingers and given it smells so delicious the foam quickly ended up in the mouth and was swallowed.
    There were warnings that the chemicals used to make the toys included some which were toxic and should not be ingested. Furthermore because children are more sensitive to chemicals that adults then continued exposure to the chemicals used in the squishy could be harmful. 

Both of these toys had passed test when first designed and manufactured it was only as they became more popular that they were subjected to closer scrutiny and issues identified.

So what safety issues are we looking out for in 2019?

Smart Toys – The Government is considering regulating connected toys with regard to personal information. These are toys which are designed to connect to the internet to gibe the child an interactive experience. These “smart toys” have microphones, they have cameras and they even have recording devices. All these things store data obtained from the child and usually it is then stored in the cloud. At the moment there is no toy safety regulations as to what can be stored, for how long and where it should be stored. Given that data such as your child’s name, age, date of birth and sometimes even address are normally stored it makes sense that there should be some parameters around this issue.

Sequin plush – over the last year there has been a surge of soft toys released which are partially or completely covered in sequins. There is no doubt that these toys are attractive to children under 3 but manufacturers have been labelling them as suitable for 3+. Labelling a sequin covered soft toy as 3+ meant that the sequins did not have to pass the test for small parts (ie be small enough to swallow safely or secured on to the toy in such a way as to ensure that they could not be detached)
However this is going to change as toy safety authorities release updated legislation to ensure that manufacturers test these toys to be suitable for babies. We are assuming most of these toys will fail so please check if you carry them in your shop.

You can find out more about Gaynor and Best Years here

MEMBER INTERVIEW – K PLAY INTERNATIONAL

The Giftware Association caught up with Business Account Manager Ian Daniels from K Play International, one of the countries leading toy manufacturers with 21 years’ experience to find out more about the company and their business experience.

What does your company make/sell?

We manufacture and distribute premium toys and gifts.

Who are K Play Internationals target audience?

We have toys for all age ranges from birth and have over 2500 products. Our ranges include beautiful wooden toys and puzzles, ride on vehicles and amazing soft play historical weapons that encourage role play and creative thinking. We are especially proud of our supply to the education industry as its so rewarding to play a part in children’s learning and development.

How long have you been trading and what is the history of the company?

We have been trading for over 21 years and are super proud of our history. The business is run by Managing Director Scott Kenworthy and originally began with a toy shop in Germany after Scott discovered the beauty and play value of wooden toys before exporting them for sale to the US and UK

Where are your products designed and produced?

UK, Germany, Romania and China.

What three words best describe your business and its products?

Quality, Service and Experience.

Which trade fairs do you exhibit at, and where can we see you on 2019?

So far in 2019 we have exhibited this year at the London Toy Fair, Birmingham Spring Fair, Harrogate Nursery Fair, and we attended the New York Toy Fair. We still have the Games Expo and Autumn Fair to look forward to as well as Kind & Jugend in Cologne in September and Family Attraction Expo at the NEC in November.

Do you have a website? If so, do you sell directly from it? If not, why not?

We do. www.k-play.uk. Our trade customers can purchase all our products online but K-Play does not sell directly to consumers.

Do you use social media to promote your business? How has this landscape changed over the years within the gift industry?

We mainly use Instagram but also have a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn. We used to be on Twitter but this has been discontinued in the last few months. We find Social Media useful for getting imagery and imagination out to the consumer and for promoting the brand names we own and represent.

Do you do any advertising/PR?

We advertise sporadically in trade magazines and are currently looking at using a consultancy PR firm

What do you wish you’d known at the very beginning of starting in the giftware industry that you know now?

Which avenues are most effective for finding new clients.

What top tip could you give to people thinking of starting out making/supplying gifts? 

Study the market in terms of the product you want to introduce and its’ potential outlets and then approach retailers before investing in stock.

Do you feel the economic climate is improving or is it getting tougher to trade?

The climate is undoubtedly challenging but then this cycle has always been around. Trading is definitely changing and suppliers must be prepared to meet this change with flexibility and new ideas.

What do you see as being the biggest problem for gift producers?

Constantly coming up with new ideas and products. Most new product is undoubtedly re-inventing the wheel but occasionally something new and exciting comes along.

What is your major gripe with the retailers that buy your products?

We have no major gripes with any of our customers. Occasionally there are late payers or customers who unduly feel they are entitled to larger discounts than we are sometimes able to give but for the most part, all “issues” with customers can be solved by effective communication on a personal level by phone or in person rather than the never ending “email thread”. 

If we could help you with one aspect of your business, what would that be?

Encourage larger Buyers to be brave and to experiment with different companies and thus allow the consumer a greater and more interesting choice of goods. One sees this in the way supermarkets are changing and offering local produce and trialling different sales techniques with fresh food, it would be refreshing to see larger chains doing the same in their giftware departments.

What news do you have to share with us so we can celebrate your achievements in 2019?

The new range of Pillowfight Warriors® Medieval Knight Range of Soft Play Shield and Weapons, guaranteed to be a hit after the introduction of our Viking Range last year.

What are you looking to achieve in 2019?

Continue to work and look after our existing clients, and add additional ones to our portfolio and grow the Pillowfight Warriors® brand. Most importantly put smiles on parents and children’s faces as we have for 20+ years.

To find out more about K Play and their amazing product , visit their website here.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR DESIGN RIGHTS AND TRADEMARKS

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In this blog, Mary Kernohan, Head of Business Development at SnapDragon, goes into detail about how to make the most of your design rights and trademarks.

Shockingly, online counterfeit retail sales have grown at an annual rate of 25% since the rise of e-commerce, meaning that the volume of fake goods sold online will soon surpass those sold by physical vendors. 

Sadly, the toy and nursery market as well as the home and giftware industry are two of the most highly targeted by counterfeiters. “Must-have” items flood the market at key times of year, such as Christmas, offering a price that just undercuts the original – so it looks like a bargain.

One way to protect your brand from counterfeits is with trademarks and design rights. It is vital to file trademarks that are valid in the countries where you plan to sell – and make – your product, preferably before any information about it appears online.

The First Steps…

Most trademark attorneys offer a very cost-effective service around trademark registration and it’s even possible to file your own, if you know what you’re doing. Registered trademarks are your first line of defence when you’ve been copied online – in that they are accepted as a registered intellectual property right by the online marketplaces which means if you can prove the trademark is registered, and yours, a counterfeit product (using your trademark) should be removed.

Trademarks come highly recommended as being amongst the most cost-effective pieces of registered intellectual property available. You may also be able to file Design Rights for your product. These protect the shape and configuration of a product – not the function – but again can be extremely valuable in proving ownership of a concept.

Make sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs to keep one step ahead of the fraudsters – you can get our blog updates straight to your inbox by signing up on the top right of this page.

Our ‘Top Tips’ to Protect Your Brand Online

In the meantime, you can use our helpful checklist of Top Tips to protect your brand online. And, if you’re in doubt, or worried, please get in touch with us today to find out how we can help:

  1. Register your trademark in as many territories as possible – and definitely in China.
  2. Register products and trademarks with the EUIPO enforcement database and its equivalent elsewhere. (This is a free service and helps protect your brands at ports of entry.)
  3. Translate your brand – into as many direct and slightly indirect variants as possible and search regularly for these on online platforms.
  4. Report sellers for infringing activity and get listings removed. If you find counterfeits, buy a sample and get to know it so you can tell the difference and teach others – including customs – how to do so too.

Be super aware in terms of customer safety

5. Don’t get too distracted from your day to day business.

You can win – and with persistence, you will!

6. Don’t forget we have been there, done it and got the (genuine) T-shirt.  We are here to help.

By Mary Kernohan from Snapdragon. For more information on snapdragons services and how they can help your business then please contact Mary at mary.kernohan@snapdragon-ip.com