Green Queen recently held our inaugural #StockYourStore B2B trade fair for the Hong Kong health & wellness industry, showcasing 35 healthy brand and product exhibitors and drawing a panoply of trade visitors. Since, we have gotten a lot of enquiries and questions about the event and how it came to be. In the interview with Green Queen founder Sonalie Figueiras, we share the #StockYourStore story and why we embarked on this journey.
How Did #StockYourStore Come About?
We love everything to do with health & wellness, but we especially love the community of small business owners, local food artisans, wellness entrepreneurs and health startups that we get to support and nurture. Green Queen got its start by sharing eco and healthy living resources with Hong Kongers looking for options. It’s important to recognize that the city’s health & wellness industry is the result of the courage and dedication of small business owners. Big corporates did not create this niche!
As Green Queen grew, we understood how passionate we were (and are) about creating resources for these small businesses. This is how our consulting arm was born, why we first launched Made in HK markets and how our advertising services began (still today the best value for money in town!) It’s the reason behind our other business, certified organic & ecolabel b2b trade platform Ekowarehouse. Today, Hong Kong’s health & wellness scene is bursting with new products, restaurants, services, fitness studios, shops and events. A few months ago, we identified a gap in the market: we realized that there was no platform for all of these businesses to meet, connect and trade their ideas, products and knowledge. That’s when we conceived of #StockYourStore.
What Kind Of Exhibitors Participated In #StockYourStore?
One thing we take very seriously at Green Queen is curation, aka vendor selection. Even with our Made in HK healthy & artisanal food markets, which were open to the public, our commitment to sourcing the most interesting variety of products and businesses was recognized by the press, visitors and industry insiders from day one. We held ourselves to the same standards for #StockYourStore and we could not be more pleased with the results. We had importers, distributors, food artisans, product innovators, online & offline retailers, local brands, specialty health services, brand creators, solo entrepreneurs…all looking to make an impact in the city’s health & wellness industry and all looking to network with industry movers and shakers. One very touching part of the show was how many intra-vendor relationships were created during the morning setup time: even the exhibitors were looking to connect with like-minded business owners! We had such heartfelt feedback from so many of them saying they had a host of new friends and contacts, which just makes all our efforts worth it!
Who Attended #StockYourStore?
We got such a fantastic range of different trade visitors at the show, which was really surprising and encouraging for our first event. Obviously we attracted trade buyers: online & offline health retailers (including many independents!), gym & fitness/yoga studio owners, cafes, beauty stores and spas, supermarket & pharmacy sourcing staff, e-commerce platforms, chefs, F&B procurement managers, spas and alternative health centre managers. We had a lot of media: PR executives, bloggers and journalists came by to get to know the vendors and their products. We are committed to helping our vendors get more press: it helps them, it helps the industry, it helps consumers. We also had loads of visitors that we would qualify as having “brand ambassador” potential: nutritionists, personal trainers, yoga instructors, health coaches and naturopaths. They may not have an actual retail space but they have powerful social media followings and large rosters of engaged clients who trust them and are looking for product recommendations: the potential for vendors who work with them is enormous. There were event organizers too, looking for product sponsors, vendors for their own markets and other types of collaborations. The city’s health & wellness event scene is really heating up and we are excited for what’s to come!
How Is #StockYourStore Different From Other Trade Events?
Our show is for small business owners, startups and solo entrepreneurs. Whether you are starting with one product, or testing the market with an imported brand, you are looking to meet local trade buyers looking for such products. Most small businesses can’t afford to take booths at massive trade shows. They can’t justify the entry fee for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Small businesses tend to have very limited cashflow and most show exhibitor fees are high (from USD 4, 000/HKD 30, 000 upwards) so forking that out is unrealistic.
- Small businesses may not have the infrastructure to participate in large shows. From getting a booth all decked out, to creating a slew of marketing materials, to staffing the event with trained salespeople, you need resources, financial and otherwise. If you are running your business on your own, you may not be able to afford the time to organize this all, nor the distraction from your day to day activities.
- Large shows work to attract MNC buyers and regional visitors. That’s a great audience for established brands, but small business owners in Hong Kong are mostly focused on meeting buyers from Hong Kong: they are still working on pushing their local distribution channels and are not ready to start exporting to other countries. Many large show buyers may not be suitable for small businesses.
- Even if you are open to exporting, the size of the orders you need to secure may be more that you can handle: small businesses tend to have production/stock limitations. Simply put, small businesses may not be ready for large trade events.
#StockYourStore is priced for small businesses and focused exclusively on connecting Hong Kong exhibitors and visitors. The show is a cross between an intimate business networking event and an industry trade expo: there hasn’t been anything quite like it before. We are thrilled to be pioneering this new space and we are already dreaming about launching this concept in other markets.
What Kind Of Products Were On Display At #StockYourStore?
We are so very proud of the wide range of health & wellness products that were showcased at #StockYourStore. The day offered an extraordinary selection: organic groceries, snacks & energy bars, fitness clothing & yoga apparel, natural beauty/cosmetics & non-toxic household, beverages, catering services, allergen testing kits, superfoods & supplements, protein bars & powders, and specialty diet offerings (including bakery items) that cover vegan, raw, paleo & gluten-free lifestyles.
What Are The Future Plans For #StockYourStore?
We have already begun planning #StockYourStore Part Deux, tentatively scheduled for September. The show went so well and we had such a long vendor wait-list that we are looking to double the booth space. We also want to create a schedule of panel discussions, workshops and talks by some of our favorite health & wellness industry experts. There have been great sponsorship offers to consider, so that’s another area we are exploring. Get in touch if you want to be a part of the next #StockYourStore. We can’t wait to hear from you!
June 2016 Update: The second #StockYourStore will take place on Tuesday September 20th 2016. Find out more!
All images courtesy of Green Queen.