The ever-shifting landscape of exporting—it’s an arena that excites as much as it bewilders and frustrates. In a world undergoing monumental shifts, the ability to adapt and embrace change is not just an option - it's a necessity. Especially when it comes to exporting, a realm that offers boundless opportunities and formidable challenges in equal measure. 

So, what's the secret to overcoming challenges in this space? I sat down with successful and experienced exporter Caroline Davis to hear her candid insights about her journey, how she’s navigated through challenges, and pearls of wisdom to share with you. 

I agree with Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade, when he says “sharing and exchange of knowledge, technologies, processes and goods makes businesses stronger and more resilient, helps them to grow and most importantly is transformative in spreading opportunity, changing lives and communities all around the world”. 

Their recent spring 2023 research undertaken with Alibaba Group and over 3k exporters, provides a good level of understanding as to the challenges and opportunities facing those in international trade today. 

Exports are more than just an avenue for increased revenue. The research shows it's a driver of resilience, sustainability, and innovation. 

81% of UK businesses state that exporting has made their enterprises stronger. 

Additionally, 75% expect an increase in export sales within the next year. There is also untapped opportunity for the 24% of businesses that do not currently export. The road to export success, however, is fraught with obstacles. Be it supply chain issues, economic uncertainties, or lack of cultural awareness, businesses are grappling with a multitude of barriers. 

It was encouraging to read of WPP BAV’s annual Best Countries study that shows “the UK is consistently highly regarded by international consumers” coming 8th out of 85 countries worldwide in 2022. It lends trust and credibility to have the words “Made In …” attached to your offer bringing meaning to quality, value and innovation as well as adding to what customers might be prepared to pay. 

David Roth, Chairman of WPP BAV says “Made in…matters much more than you might think. To Chinese consumers, these European markets represent leadership, expertise and trust in sectors as varied as technology, fashion, food and pharmaceuticals”. 

As we dig deeper into the stories of successful exporters, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the future of trade is not just global; it's inclusive, digitally savvy, and infinitely promising. 

Filmex Direct Ltd 

Caroline Davis, Founder and Managing Director 

Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire 


"With over 30 years' experience, we pride ourselves on the ability to design & manufacture any style of socks. From bamboo to organic cotton, we can help you build your range with budget in mind" 

The pricing predicament 

Picture this: you're on the brink of closing a great deal, but the questions start rolling in like a tidal wave. What's the quantity? When's the deadline? Custom packaging or not? Then come the pricing negotiations. Caroline shares an invaluable lesson: 

Don't let eagerness trump value. 

An enticing deal may end up being a headache if you find yourself undercutting your own worth. The rush to close the sale can blind you to the practical realities so take your time to reflect and make smart decisions. Staying true to our word has always lead to strong, sustainable partnerships with buyers in the longer term. 

Remain nimble and agile 

When faced with cost hikes due to inflation rates of 180% in Turkey, Caroline led her team in a deft manoeuvre.  Shifting manufacturing to China for the low-cost items not only provided customers with affordable alternatives but also showcased the power of adaptability in the face of unforeseen challenges. The higher quality products continued to be produced in Turkey.  

Balancing small orders with time commitments 

Picking, packing, labelling, and shipping can become too time intensive on smaller orders. Caroline found that they were not fully accounting for their time spent and the smaller orders were not always yielding the right level of profits. It is critical to properly account for all the time spent fulfilling orders and to say no to the order should these no longer be cost-effective to either party. 

Words of wisdom 

  • It's wise to pause, strategise, and value your craft before hastily committing to low prices
  • Always honour your integrity and fulfil on your commitments
  • Tailor your approach, split your wares, and keep your export arsenal versatile to tap into different markets
  • Account for all your time and work in your costings and make sure there are balanced benefits to each contract
  • The role of women varies from country to country, so do your homework, and if you can, learn some of the local language.

As we wrap up our journey with Caroline, her words echo with a promise—women have the power, the drive, and the capability to scale the business peaks. With her own tale as testament, she urges budding entrepreneurs to take the leap, break the glass ceiling, and blaze their trail. 


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