Q+A with Mary Nannery, Membership + Events Manager of The BCFA

By July 11, 2017News

We really enjoy getting to know the organisations we work with; building relationships is an integral part of what we do as interior designers, and who better to get to know further than Mary Nannery at The BCFA. As the Membership + Events Manager, she knows everything there is to know about networking in our industry, and recently organised the brilliant BCFA Summer BBQ.

How would you sum up your company in three words?
Busy, Busy, Busy or Facilitate Opportunities and Knowledge

How long has the company been established and how long have you been working for them?
The BCFA was established in 1970; I have been with them eleven years

What is your role at the company?
I am the Membership + Events Manager. My role is supporting, listening and advising existing members and recruiting new members. I also manage all our UK events, obviously with lots of support from my colleagues.

What is the best part of the job?
Everything! I love my job; it is great meeting people and helping them with their businesses, and genuinely making a difference. The people in our industry can be both inspirational and humble, and generally so accessible. The events are great fun, if a little bit stressful! A perk has got to be visiting venues, tasting menus and comedy/speakers evenings to preview entertainers/speakers.

Do you have a best-selling event?
It has to be the annual Luncheon at the Dorchester – we have over 540 guests at this event and we sell out within hours of the launch of ticket sales – It is the industry event of the year – everyone wants to be there.

Where have you been most proud of seeing your brand in-situ?
I haven’t actually seen this yet but we are taking a group of members to Boutique Design New York (BDNY) for the second year and this year I’m going to be part of the team at the event. BCFA will have a pavilion and it’s going to be ‘absolutely fabulous!!’

What has the most influence over your company evolution?
Our members and responding to innovation within our industry.

From all the various BCFA members’ offerings, do you have a favourite new product this year?
I don’t (can’t) have favourites, I love them all! However, I’ve just got back from a whirlwind tour of CDW and I absolutely loved the Brintons collaboration with Shezad Dawood.

How do you promote your brand to make sure it stays in the mind of your consumers?
This is an interesting one as our consumers are not just our members and potential new members, but very much our members’ client base: the interior designer, architect, specifier and building operator.  In supporting our members, part of our role is to promote our members through our brand to this client base. To do this we use all the tools in the box – printed directories, magazines, online we have thebcfa.com, designinsiderlive.com, both of which link to our online member directory, we also have a website dedicated to our open exhibitions. We have invested heavily in creating our own-authored content and especially in creating original video of our activities, as well as our members’ projects. We maintain a constant presence on social media. Twitter and Instagram are our main focus but we keep an open mind and explore new opportunities as they emerge. It is part of our role to guide and advise our members on what marketing opportunities are available and what will work for them. Finally, our ever popular events, from networking to exhibitions, help to keep our name as an endorsement of excellence within the industry.

Are there brands in the industry that you admire, what makes them great?
It has to be Morgan an outstanding example of originality, design innovation and customer service and a very proactive member of the BCFA. Others I must mention leading the field in British design and manufacture are Edge by Pledge, Boss Design, Style Library Contract, Panaz, Ocee Design and Timorous Beasties.

The design calendar seems to grow every year. Do you have a favourite interiors/design exhibition?
I have to say our exhibitions are my favourites of course just from the pure adrenalin rush of making them happen. Having covered that base I also find CDW, Sleep, Decorex and Design Junction relevant and interesting. However, nothing beats an inspirational day out at the V&A or one of the Tate museums especially when they have a featured event. This year I’ve fallen in love with Hockney (a surprising amount of chairs in his pictures), O’Keefe, been shocked by the late 60s  (you say you want a revolution) and a sadly a bit out of love with Rauschenberg

How much travel is involved with your job, do you have a favourite country to visit? Why do you enjoy it?
There’s lots of UK-wide travel, visiting members and potentials. I’ve also been to Maison et Objet a couple of times. The overseas exhibitions to which we take UK groups are managed by my colleague Sue Graves. However, this year I am looking after our Open exhibition in Dublin in June, which I’m really excited about, as I’ve never visited Ireland before, despite having Irish heritage. And of course New York for BDNY will be a highlight.

How do you see your company evolving over the next few years? Do you have any plans you can share with us?
We are always seeking to develop our services and respond to member demands. We have recently introduced the BCFA Open exhibition concept and we want to develop this further. We are continuously investing and developing our online presence, and having just relaunched all our sites, this will continue, as it is such a key communication tool for us.

We’ve seen your social media activity across the different platforms, how important has it been in raising brand awareness for your network?
It is a part of the mix and particularly key with our members’ client base that are generally young and enthusiastic adopters.

We’ve enjoyed many of your networking events, how do you choose your speakers?  
This is a team effort and our board can get involved, usually our social director Charles Rae who leads in this area. It can be recommendation, but also we use the standard agencies that often hold events to showcase new and emerging talent. We also have some young team members and it is a useful sanity check to see what they think too, as we have to maintain a cross generational appeal.

You held the inaugural BCFA Open Spring event a few months ago, what were the highlights for you and have you already started planning next year?
The highlight was definitely going home to my own bed at the end of the week! It was particularly exhausting as everything was new to us. The members were fantastic and really rose to the challenge of creating something original and different. We wanted to avoid the stereotypical exhibition spaces with walls and cubicles and asked our members to create free standing installations. The workshops with the Patternistas were a big hit – It’s best to look at the highlights video and reviews on www.bcfaopen.com to get a feel for the event for anyone who didn’t attend. We want to do it again and are scheduling the dates now, we have learnt so much and have loads of ideas for next year. We will be in Dublin next month for a simpler pop-up and back to Manchester in October this year for a follow up on last year’s Open.

Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Mary! It’s been great learning more about The BCFA.

For more information on The BCFA please visit their website www.thebcfa.com