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From tiny acorns… November 10, 2017

Giving & Living is the biggest Home & Gift trade show in the South West; a unique opportunity for a wide range of retail buyers to sample fresh ideas and unusual products from around 250 manufacturers, wholesalers and importers.
Many of our exhibitors are relatively small companies, and this is what attracts many visitors to the show. They are eager to find great suppliers and products that might otherwise have slipped under their radar – and to discover them ahead of competitors. Our figures bear this out, showing that 52% of visitors succeeded in finding three or more suppliers and that 87% placed orders at the show or shortly afterwards. This is equally good news for exhibitors – many of those who take a stand find that they are a lot larger by the time the next year’s event comes around!
It’s easy to forget that every big business started out as a small business. Let’s not forget the unpromising beginnings which spawned some of today’s giant success stories:

Coca Cola
Confederate Colonel John Pemberton, who was wounded in the American Civil War, became addicted to morphine. He was keen to find a harmless substitute and developed a coca wine at his drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House.
He registered this as a “nerve tonic” in 1885, then developed a non-alcoholic version, Coca-Cola, in 1886. It was claimed to cure many diseases, including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence. Despite the fact it did none of those things the company was bought by Asa Griggs Candler in 1888 and thanks to his aggressive marketing efforts the rest is history.

Nike
When college athlete Phil Knight visited Japan in 1963, he was mightily impressed with Onitsuka Tiger shoes. Returning home with 200 pairs he stored them in his father’s basement and sold them from his car at track meets.
In 1964 he partnered with his former coach, Bill Bowerman, and they began trading as Blue Ribbon Sports. In 1971 they parted company with their Japanese supplier and started to launch their own brand.
Bill worked at Oregon’s Hayward Field and their running track was transitioning to an artificial surface. He wanted to develop a sole without spikes that still had a good grip. He was discussing the problem with his wife over breakfast, while she made waffles. She recalls that “He got up from the table and went tearing into his lab and got two cans of whatever it is you pour together to make the urethane, and poured them into the waffle iron.” This inspired Nike’s first shoe, the Waffle Trainer, which debuted in 1974.
The famous Nike strapline “Just do it” had an equally unpromising inspiration. Dan Weiden, co-founder of ad agency Weiden + Kennedy, coined the slogan in 1988, only later admitting the inspiration came from the last words spoken from the electric chair by murderer Gary Gilmore.

Louis Vuitton
Louis was born into a farming family in a small village near the Alps. At the age of 13 he set out on foot for Paris to find his fortune. The 292 mile journey took him two years as he had to feed himself by taking jobs along the way. Once he eventually arrived in the city he became an apprentice at a successful box-making and packing workshop.
Through hard work and natural aptitude he soon earned a reputation as a skilled craftsman. In 1853 word of his abilities saw him appointed the personal box-maker and packer of the Empress of France, Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III. This introduced him to a host of aristocratic clients and he swiftly opened his own workshop in 1854.
From these humble beginnings the LV has become the world’s most valuable luxury brand, comfortably ahead of its nearest rival – currently valued at $28.8 billion.

Shell
Marcus Samuel owned a small antique shop in London. In 1833, noting a new fashion trend for small boxes encrusted in shells, he began to make his own, importing the raw materials from the Far East. Soon he was buying a range of other commodities from the orient, and one thing led to another. When his sons, Marcus and Sam, took over the company it was busily exporting British machinery, textiles and tools to newly industrialising Japan and the Far East, then carrying rice, silk, china and copperware to the Middle East and Europe on the return journey.
When Karl Benz invented the internal combustion engine in 1886 oil became a more prized commodity. Marcus and Sam, quick to spot an opportunity, commissioned a fleet of steamers to carry oil in bulk and set up a network of storage depots in the Far East. They quickly made their fortune and in 1907 the company merged with Royal Dutch Petroleum, their main rival.
Shell, as the company eventually became known, is now the world’s most valuable Oil & Gas brand with current global sales of $234.75 and 89,000 employees.

If they can do it…
Will any of the exhibitors at next year’s Giving & Living show go on to enjoy this kind of massive global success? We’d love to think so, even though that may be a little optimistic… But then again, who would have expected Coca-Cola, Nike, Louis Vuitton and Shell to do so well?  If you haven’t already registered for the show, why not click here, and come and see our potential mighty oaks!