Following the final of the ‘Open to Export International Business Awards‘, we talk to some of the finalists about the impact that the Export Action Plan tool has had on their business and their exports.
(Photo: © WTO/Jay Louvion)
Representative: Jessica Giannotti
How did you find the experience of pitching to the judges during the final?
It was an incredible, almost surreal experience, pitching among such an amazing group of talented and innovative entrepreneurs. The setup and room were ideal for the activity. I found the judges very knowledgeable and their questions very insightful. I wish my pitch went smoother, this was also a learning experience. Normally my pitches are delivered without any issues. Just recently, invited by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, I gave a talk about innovation and answered a session of Q&As at Johnston of Elgin to invited guests and the general public. That went really well, but here in Geneva, however, I underestimated the effect my emotions and excitement would have on my voice and memory. Despite that, the judges seemed to have enjoyed the pitch and I was moved and excited by the emotional response. After my pitch one of the judges and several attendees stormed to my position to chat about Crùbag, to ask for cards and have a look at the samples. That was the confirmation that I needed. The message came across and people loved and understood the brand. That was priceless. From that pitch, I got several emails and new leads.
Seeing the other pitches was a learning experience and very inspiring. Most businesses had a strong social and environmental mission and I was amazed by how far some already made it in their business in countries that are not known for an easy start. The spirit, passion and dedication of these entrepreneurs and their capacity to flourish anywhere, was a reminder that a good idea and hard work can make it happen. Some of their planning, execution and strategies were so clear and very well developed. I learned a lot from my peers. Being part of an international pool of finalists was in itself remarkable and I will never forget it.
How did you find the experience of being at the WTO Public Forum?
Being at the WTO Public Forum was very important. This was a high-level event with a remarkable international multicultural atmosphere. The networking opportunities were abundant and I was able to connect with all kinds of people. From the networking, we are going to build fruitful relationships. We received invitations to come back to Switzerland including an invitation to participate at the Climate Show 2019 with a catwalk show.
I believe trade is vital for development and freedom. Through trade, we are able to share ideas, technology and goods that could change the world and enrich people’s lives and communities. We are a global village and the exchange made through trade is part of how societies evolved and culture is communicated. The WTO public forum was an inspiring, humbling and eye-opening experience. I was able to attend two sessions: one on the blue economy and one on innovation int he fashion industry. Both sessions offered a platform to shares ideas that can shape the future. There, many brilliant minds are working hard for a better world and continued development. Both sessions were at the heart of what Crùbag does and stands for. Being there was a great opportunity to be at the table where big ideas are shared and shaped. This contributed to our mission and I will be writing a blog entry about it this month.
How did you find the using the Export Action Plan tool and what impact did it have on your business?
The tool is so valuable that I’ll recommend it to all my fellow entrepreneur friends. This tool in itself was so worth it. Independently from the Open to Export Award and the experience of being at the WTO Public Forum, the tool makes a big difference to businesses. It helps you and forces you to sharpen your focus and develop a detailed and realistic export plan. The tool also brings important aspects of exporting that may be overseen or forgotten by the inexperienced exporter. Being prepared beforehand will not only save you money but also ensure that your export strategy is sound and successful. I love the fact that the tool is also a living exercise that can be continuously adapted and updated. This is a tool to be used as part of the business plan and we will use it for sure for many years to come. The tool helped me also to gain an overview and understand what exporting really means and what are the different aspects to consider. I don’t think I would have come up with such a detailed plan without it. It is also a learning tool to better understand the markets, your business and opportunities. Everyone should use it.
Looking ahead, what’s your next step now as a business?
Our next step as a business is to consolidate our exporting efforts and secure more funding. We plan to enter at least three international markets before June 2019. We are showcasing our brand to potential buyers in London at Scotland House this month and will do a trade mission to Spain in November. In February 2019 we are showing at the international trade show Scoop and will apply shortly to exhibit at a trade show in Paris as well early next year. We are also internationalising our website – we will add EUR, USD and CHF as additional currencies and will translate some content as well. Crùbag is ready to further grow and become a cult brand.
What three tips would you give to other MSMEs looking to enter international trade?
- Prepare well for export and research your markets. Use the Open to Export tool. It is free and available to anyone. Ask questions and join the Institute of Export and International Trade.
- Meaningful and authentic networking. Connect with people and build relationships.
- Make sure your product is amazing and link it to your story. Sustainability will become an intrinsic part of any business development plan. The sooner you start incorporating sustainability the better.
Inspired design from the exploration of the ocean. Crùbag is a new Scottish ethical brand with a purpose, heart and passion for the environment. We merge ocean sciences, design and art to create a unique world of directional print designs and sustainable luxury accessories inspired by the sea.
Each collection is an ocean-inspired project of love, slowly developed by our designer and founder Jessica Giannotti in collaboration with marine scientists. Crùbag use scientific images and research output to produce unique print designs and vibrant textile collections that present extraordinary marine ecosystems and unique organisms, many of which are only seen through the microscope, or by those diving and researching the depths of the oceans and the seabed with the help of unmanned vehicles.
Crùbag’s fashion and interior accessories share the beauty and incredible aspects of our oceans that remain inaccessible to us. Unseen natural patterns, colours and shapes are revealed, sometimes for the first time. Designs are colourful, vibrant and unexpected.
Our silk, wool and blend scarves, bow ties, pocket squares and interiors accessories are sustainably made, using natural fabrics and combining cutting-edge printing technology with traditional craftsmanship. Every item is finished by hand. We cherish our oceans, inspired design, and beautifully crafted pieces.
We hope to inspire, raise awareness and bring a deeper connection to the natural world around us. Our textiles bring joy and inspire us to discover, understand and preserve our oceans.
Each accessory is paired with an ocean-literacy booklet and online content, sharing the science and inspiration behind each collection. These unique stories are linked to our more universal science-based campaigns, offering a holistic overview, and a platform to discuss some of the biggest environmental issues of our time. We donate a proportion of our profits towards important research to conserve and further understand our oceans. Marine science is beautiful.
Join the ocean revolution.