Best Online Retailer 2016
Thursday, 12 May 2016 | Admin
The Journey There
This time last week I was lucky enough to be invited as a finalist to The Greats Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane, London. I invited two of my long serving colleagues to the event and with a lift from my husband, so we could all enjoy the champagne and wine on offer, we set off to Newark Station. Behind the scenes my husband is later for work than usual and then gets a phone call from us as my colleague Sue aka Mother, has left her handbag in the car so we are slightly on edge waiting for it's safe return. ( Husband is slightly cross! ) We then get news of a 30 minute delay due to a broken down train blocking our track so more tense moments as we don't want to arrive late! Finally we set off and have a pre-award drink, some traditional egg sandwiches and posh strawberries dipped in galaxy care of Lyndsey ( on the left ), thank you!
The Award Ceremony
We arrive at The Grosvenor Hall to pre-dinner drinks. With 400 people attending the event the sound of people chatting starts to get louder and louder, a fantastic atmosphere. Sue rubbed shoulders with Bill Turnbull from BBC News and chatted like old friends, the champagne flows and we enjoy being social with our suppliers before we are invited to take our seats. We enter a very grand room decorated to a theme of birds, bees and butterflies filled with smartly dressed women in frocks and men in suits. The table is beautifully decorated with favours and the beautiful meal consisting of Goats Cheese and Porcini Mushroom Tartlet, Fillet of Seabass served with a lobster, coconut and lemongrass sauce finished with a delightful Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on shortbread decorated with a rapsberry brandy snap is served. We ate like ladies of the manor, although I feel the food might of been too posh for Sue who would of preferred a more traditional scampi and chips and treacle sponge! My only failure at such a grand place was ordering tea instead of coffee, adding my usual milk and sugar to find it was peppermint tea!
Whilst we ate we were entertained by 3 spoof waiters all singing beautiful opera followed by comedian Rob Deering, who sang a version of Frozen's Let it Go changing the words around treading on a piece of Lego, for those of you that have ever done this you will appreciate the humour! After a raffle which Lyndsey was lucky enough to win a prize the awards ceremony begins.
This was the 14th Greats Award and is the most exciting and prestigious event on the gift industries calendar. The awards bring together not only the talented gift retail finalists, but also the the industries leading gift suppliers and trade show organisers. Everyone that is involved in the wonderful world of gifts and homeware is invited to the event.
We were lucky enough to be finalists in 2015 at this amazing event so to be shortlisted again was super news. We had to sit nervously as there were 20 categories before our announcement. This year we felt there were some large contenders in our category and can honestly say we didn't expect to win. When Gifts From Handpicked was read out I don't think the news sank in. I walked up onto the stage shaking more than I did on my Wedding Day. The next 30 minutes were a blur!
What Winning The Award Means
This award is like winning an oscar! It is a magnificent trophy that is so heavy it needs lifting with two hands. I am so grateful of my team who have helped progress this award winning Company. I am so so proud and it so very true that hard work pays off. Being self-employed this award is a huge pat on the back and a boost to continue doing what we are good at!
Let Us Inspire You!
Gifts From Handpicked was launched 8 years ago in a home office, I was made redundant from my long serving catering career and invested my redundancy money into a new direction. At the time I wanted to work part-time around my son who was 1 at the time. There was never a big business plan or a great objective to take over the Gift Industry! With my previous work ethics of hard work, passion and commitment and employing the same characteristics into the business we have steadily grown and now employ 5 staff with extra staff at Christmas. We are currently in the process of moving to larger premises so we can continue to grow our range offering our customers more choice and variety. We manage 3 websites and ship our goods to customers worldwide. We have involved ourselves within the Gift Industry and attend round table events and debates, speak at conferences and judge an annual Gift of the Year award at the Giftware Association. I can honestly say thank you to my old Company for making me redundant as I absolutely LOVE the Gift Industry. If you are in a similar situation I hope you will be as lucky as me and have a positive experience.
Receiving an award for Best Online Business has given me a personal boost to continue working hard ( and playing just as hard! ) and to stay focussed. I still don't want to take over the Gift Industry, ( excuse my humour ) I personally think there is space for everyone as long as you do a good job committed to your customers there is room for us all wether you are online or an independent shop. Once we have moved we will continue to do what we do best and shop for new and exciting products and look after our customers, it is the simple things here at Gifts From Handpicked that you wouldn't think make us stand out but answering the telephone and the constant emails are just two examples of what we different. If you have ever had a bad experience of this you will understand why our simple approach is so important.
A big thank you to my supportive family and staff, I couldn't of done any of this without you and am so grateful.
When I got home from the awards with my trophy in my hand my youngest son Riley aged 4 said wow mummy, I am lucky like you I have been invited to Vinnies for tea on Monday!! A lovely end to what was a beautiful day.