Karen made us. No, really. We first learned about the National Stationery Show (NSS) after reading blog posts about the show on Design Sponge, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and our colleagues in the letterpress world. Last December we seriously began considering the possibility of exhibiting at the show. We decided it was too scary of a step to take on our own, so we asked Karen to apply to the show and we said, “Don’t ask us again”. And it’s a good thing, too, because even on the flight there we were asking ourselves if we ready for the world stage.
Down deep, though, we knew we needed to take the next step to get our designs out there in the paper world, and what a big world it is, so we found out.
What We Wished We Would Have Known
Thankfully, we didn’t have any surprises with regard to preparation, but there were a few things we wish we would have known prior to going to the show that we’ll do differently for next year (can you even believe we’re already entertaining that idea?!?!?).
#1 – Get a bigger booth – it’s scary, it’s risky, and it’s the key to having room for buyers to browse your product, and more importantly, it puts you in a better section. Pay attention to your booth assignment; check out who your neighbors are and if they sell a similar product (after weighing the pros and cons, we still think there is more value in being near exhibitors with similar products, as opposed to big manufacturers and assorted riff-raff.
#2 – Create a custom booth instead of paying for custom walls. Although the walls we bought made our one-day setup extremely easy for this first show, they weren’t exactly the right color, they were expensive, and they were easily scratched, dented, and torn (you could also see the white seems in between the pieces of black foam). The exhibitors who designed and constructed their own booths really stood out in the sea of booths in the Javitz.
Here’s a pic of our booth:
#3 – Brainstorm every possible question and its answer. For example, be able to show buyers your custom portfolio, your custom work prices, decide ahead of time if you will offer boxed or singles of cards in your line, know when your products will be available for shipping, know if you want to offer a show special (free shipping or display pieces for orders over a certain amount).
#4 – Bring special samples to give to key buyers (and friends with whom you’d like to swap). In an effort not to over-pack for the trip, we trimmed down what we shipped to ourselves, however, we would have liked to have more sets of samples for buyers with whom we’d like to work and who, fortunately, stopped in at our booth.
#5 – Bring an extra contact lens so that you don’t have to feel frumpy the whole week while wearing glasses
#6 – Remember that it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be worth it. You’re making friends, contacts, and learning a whole lot about where you are and where you need to be to make this passion a full-time profession.
A big thank you to those who helped us prepare by sharing their experience and wisdom: Ali Marie Geiman, Freshie, Barb McCormick, Lily and Diana at Poppy, Kathryn Hunter at Blackbird Press, and the friendly folks at Hammerpress.