Monday morning I woke, ready to conquer after our first weekend of sunshine. Self /Relationships/Gratitude - had shared Sunday on the tiny roof terrace with four good friends and had a BBQ and not even a very uncomfortable and ongoing personal situation, could get me down (since then the worst case scenario has become a reality).

Back to Monday and the hum of Carly Simon, 'I'm on Top of the World' playing in my head, I run through the millions of things on my never-ending to do list.

  • At my desk super early to prepare, send emails etc.
  • Mid morning had a meeting with the manufacturer's, hoping to finalise a few sticking points on the contract though we have already started working together, choreograph testing, packaging, procurement, insurance, labels, cartons, 1ml tube test, ingredients, follow-up of outstanding issues with other members of their team.
  • Back to desk and feeling slightly overwhelmed by how much there is to do before I go to Dublin. Plough through.
  • In the afternoon a friend with similar age baby comes round for playdate and exchange on routines - that is a whole other story.
  • After dinner, back to the desk to prepare for Ireland and try to get to bed at a decent time. Not to be. 12.15am in bed.
  • 4.15am wake up call.
  • 5.15am taxi to Airport.
  • 6.45 flight to Dublin.
  • 8.15 collect hire car. 9.00 set off for Wexford.
  • 11.15 arrive Wexford and do store visit and interact with staff. It is important to have familiarised yourself with the environment and business of the person you are going to meet.
  • 11.50 arrive at the Head Office.
  • 12.00 Meet the buyer.  Great meeting. Discuss developments of the store, MERUMAYA Integrative Skincare, the opportunity, the requirements of each party including marketing support. launch activity, margin, distribution, sales staff, training, location and position, stock levels, press, advertising, promotions, competitor performance, market performance, their performance, trends, customer profile, price points, recession effects, products, settlement terms, currency, billing and with this explain the concept of the brand and the sweet spot it fills while trying the products, which I leave for her to use at home.
  • 14.15pm drive back to Dublin. 
  • 17.15pm drop off hire car and get cab to hotel.
  • 17.30 work through emails.
  • 19.30 dinner meeting
  • 22.00 back to hotel and I am flagging but review some Irish magazines.
  • 23.00 lights out feeling weird because it is the first time I have left my baby for business. Self - Upside is I could have an uninterrputed nights sleep until 6.30am ZZZs Ping!
  • 5.26am on Wednesday morning and I wake wondering why the baby has not woken me and then realisation dawns. Turn this way, then that, arm in arm out, trying to reclaim that precious one hour of sleep but it is not to be. I waste an hour trying to fall asleep between emailing from my bed.
  • 8.00am Meeting with another retailer and similar content to the above description but, I agree to visit their out-of-town trial store at 13.00.
  • 9.40am, running across the Liffey  to my 9.30am (! whoops) meeting with a department store. Luckily I know the MD and he is patient. Again, cover the above and add in a store tour with explanation of their refurbishment currently underway and store developments and financial health.  While I am still in this meeting my 11am appointment calls to explain she cannot accommodate me later thank planned as she has to leave for a meeting.
  • 11.30 visit other Department store groups to see developments and look at customer profiles, store activity and promotions, fixtures and fittings, brand portfolio and head back to the hotel. Will have a quick bite there so I can use the free WiFi (makes a big difference to telephone bills).  Emails, eat half lunch and buyer from 8am says she cannot accompany me to their out-of-town store after all so, I jump in a cab and head out by myself. Not so bad as I get a good review from the staff who are not 'selling' the concept.  Cab driver waits for me and turns off the clock - bless him.
  • Back to Dublin for my 15.00 meeting with some key players and influencers.
  • 17.15 end meeting and get cab to airport very happy with visit and response to brand but OMG one helluva migraine is attacking my brain.
  • Flight lands at Heathrow at 20.15 and I cannot wait to see my baby and husby. There they are waiting for me outside.
  • 9.15pm home, play with baby though it is well past her bedtime and I will pay the price later.
  • 22.00 dinner
  • 23.00 prep for tomorrows meetings
  • 23.45 bed with painkillers.
  • 6.15 am baby comes into bed for milk. Cannot get back to sleep, migraine hovering over me, swallow more pills. Get ready, up to office to do printing for meeting and look at packaging and stationery artwork. Argue with Husby, leave house in a huff vowing to input the satnav information by myself. Husby comes out to help, I refuse (why???).
  • Leave at 10am and satnav says I will arrive at 10.50, perfect  for 11am meeting with warehouse and distribution company. Not so, Olympic fever.....and I arrive at 11.52. Meeting covers their cost proposal in detail. Me asking that which most people will not ask but, I need to visualise it and anticipate making efficiencies in related services by thinking ahead and planning consequences. I ask a question on one of the costs vs. his verbal estimate in a prior meeting. He talks but does not answer. I bring him back to the question, He talks but evades answering, I pin him down on this because the difference is double and therefore, material.  I negotiate volume related cost breaks; real numbers not vague ones. Hey, Donald Trump says 'If you are going to think anyway, think big'. Why not plan for success? I do a tour to see pallets, shelves, picking and packing wholesale orders, those for air shipping, e-commerce orders, gift wrapping, packing materials, carton labelling, talk to some operators in the warehouse....only now, do I know what I am getting for my money.
  • 14.30 leave distribution centre.
  • 16.00 back home. Self - Husby, Baby and I  go to enjoy the park. Oh, but on the way, I stop by the printer for  a quote... We just about see the Olympic bus pass Nottinghill. Eat ice-cream, ,I talk to some strangers, enjoy each other the sun and happy sounds in the park. BBQ dinner and back at my desk at 8.30pm to read through the (hopefully final) contract amendments, the critical path analysis, emails in preparation for call straight after my 8am meeting, concerning these matters.
  • Write most of this blog post.  Head is still foggy with migraine remains. It's 10pm off for a cuppa and since I have already missed my aim to be in bed for 22.00, hope to make 23.00. Night.
  1. Lesson; when meeting retailers, make sure you have been in their store very recently.  Seen competitors, layout and where you would like your brand to be displayed.
  1. Lesson; talk to the sales staff in the stores to find out their first hand views of brands, customers, gaps, hotspots etc.
  2. Lesson; booking flights with hotel at the same time is generally cheaper.  Book hotels with free WiFi, in the vicinity of your meetings so that you can walk rather than take transport.
  3. Lesson; Ask questions without fear, embarrassment or worrying what a supplier will think of you.  It is your money and if you don't ask, you will not get.
  4. Lesson; Learn to manage time when you are on field visits especially.  Use breakfast and dinners as opportunities to have meetings. Use travel time as an opportunity to prepare for meetings or catnap for energy. Pop into as many similar retail environments as possible even if you do not intend to trade with them - ideas come from everywhere and you are at an advantage if you are aware of what your retailers competition are doing. Self; when you are packing it in, take some time out to be with family

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