Thursday, August 7, 2008

Toronto was a hit

Well, all I can say is that Toronto was a smashing success. We organized our exhibit at York U and we were able to meet and interact with many researchers, writers, academics on mas, pan and Carnival. It was also good for me to see the slide show presentation on the history of steelband by Kim Johnson. Kim and I used to be neighbors in Trinidad, but this was actually my first time listening to him share his great knowledge on pan. We are trying to get that slideshow and some of his images for our pan project---more on that later.

We also ran into mas man extraordinaire Peter Minshall, who was quite happy to see our Collection of steelpan items in precious metals, and our product brochure which showed the link between the pan and piano. And we will be inviting him to our launch of our next Collection closer to Christmas. Ray Funk was also at the conference. Ray has been researching calypso for years, and now he told me he will be focusing on the steelpan. I do look forward to working with him in the future. And Dr. Keith Nurse of UWI spoke on the potential for Carnival and cultural industries, which set me thinking of what we can do to be an example for other companies in this sector. I'm already looking forward to collaborating with him.

Of course, the main item on the agenda for the Thursday (July 31st) night was the Kings and Queen's competition at the Caribana festival and our promotions. We were offering all registrants from Toronto the chance to win a free trip to Trinidad for Panorama 2009. So we had our hundreds of nicely designed postcards and positioned ourselves strategically at the gate to ensure all patrons received one. We had to compete with folks giving out free bandanas, free whistles, free water and a chance to win a free diamond. This was our first time doing this sort of public promotion and while the 1500 - 2000 people at the event were Caribbean Diaspora, I'm not sure we will do this kind of promotion again.

Things were a bit different on the Friday night, which was the Pan Alive competition. This was for the true, true pan people and so we had donated one of our signature pieces, the sterling silver basspan bracelet (retail value US$200) as a door prize. We still distributed the postcards (because we had almost 5000) as people entered. In general, I found almost 85% of those approached were receptive and polite. Was it the pan people, or the Canadians, I wondered? Anyway, we did have the opportunity to give our promotional message to the audience as we did the door prize. Next time we have to have a big banner on stage with us.

Hey, be sure to visit the Toronto page for photos of the exhibit, the door prize and other fun things from Caribana.

Most important for us, and for all our supporters in Toronto, we made contact with someone who will be helping us get into retailers in Toronto. So soon we will have a big announcement of locations where the Collection can be purchased!!! This is great.

And, more good news. The Liz Mannette Collection was invited to participate in the Caribbean Week Fashion Gala happening on Sept 27th. So I will definitely be visiting Toronto very soon and very often.

Thanks to all of those who made this Toronto Caribana launch a success. My marketing assistant Carlene worked so hard to get our exhibit together and my sis Bernadette came up from New York to give some support. We have a great team here.

So now, it is on to the next gathering of pan Japan, UK and the US.

It can be tiring, but I'm having a great time.

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