Hi All! This is beve's first blog post and we wanted to write about our first trade show experience: the 2014 National Stationery Show. Yes, it's a little late, but we just got our brand new site and blog space up, so it is what it is. I hope this will be helpful for any first time exhibitors looking for some information about the show.
I first heard about trade shows from the super sweet Maryellen Kim of Handmade Happiness Boutique in Chester, Virginia in October of 2012. She suggested checking into NSS and in May of 2013, six months pregnant, I headed up to walk the show. I'm so glad I had this experience to pull from in preparation for exhibiting in 2014. The National Stationery Show has such a different vibe and look from so many industry shows, so this really helped me know how we had to present ourselves: design-forward, friendly and professional. Now, that's our kind of show!
Pregnant me at NSS 2013!
We heard about the brand new, juried #fresh section in October of 2013, applied and.. got in! So exciting! We started out with a hardwall booth, but switched to pipe and drape after after realizing we couldn't paint or drill into the walls (this was before they had the new, customizable option available). Initially I contemplated building hard walls, but having a background in fashion design, I decided to create tailored canvas walls. Not only would this be an affordable option, it made it so I could drive my entire booth up myself from Virginia. And by 'myself,' I mean with my awesome husband who took vacation time from his full-time job to come and work the show, my sweet father-in-law who embarked on his retirement by coming with us to babysit our (then) nine month old daughter, Lennox, whose first out of state experience was heading up to NSS, and me, beve owner and designer, Lauren Boggs Meslar. Yep, four people and a 60SF booth in one Subaru Outback. We rocked it!
Some of our big to do items between signing up and driving up were:
- Submit photos to Stationery Trends Magazine's NSS/SMM issue
- Have new beve washi tape designs printed (25 new designs!!)
- Apply for a Trade Show Boot Camp scholarship. We didn't get it, but we survived.
- Create our new watercolor letter seal sticker designs that had been floating around my head
- Submit images and information to SMM 365 - We received 3 pre-show orders from this and many other queries!
- Research a ton about NSS (first time exhibitor webinars, blogs, first time exhibitor LinkedIn forum, NSS veterans - and I mean YOU Kate of Smarty Pants Paper Co.!! <3 ) - utilize those free resources!
- Create a professional, consolidated catalog of our products; my first foray with InDesign and Issuu
- Decide whether I was going to continue doing beve (and Mama'ing) full-time or go back to teaching part-time (psst! I chose beve and baby!)
- Contact our current shops and those who had shown interest in beve to let them know we'd be at the show (and our booth number!)
- Enter goodies into the Best New Product competition
- Jump at the chance for extra publicity by affiliating ourselves with Etsy Wholesale's NSS presence
- Order lots of inventory pre-show
- Purchase lots of pretties to fill our booth and repurpose at home (yay foamy floors for Lennox, craft storage cubbies and sassy extra seating!)
- Sew, grommet, velcro and paint the walls and create SIXTEEN product and mood boards for the booth
- Create about 30 press kits for the show
- Tell everyone about our THREE features in Stationery Trends' SMM issue and FOUR (of four!) Best New Product finalists!!
Whew, all of that while running beve and taking care of my baby girl - it was a busy winter and spring!
While we had originally planned on staying at a small hotel near Javits and having Lennox with us in the booth for most of the day, we began to get concerned as she got more and more active and beve got more and more show publicity. We were thrilled when Chris' dad stepped in to babysit Lennox, who is still nursing, during the day and that family friends in New Jersey were kind enough to let all four of us stay with them. The drive and bus trip in from Green Pond, New Jersey took about an hour and a half each way, but this kept our little girl happy and saved us a bundle. It also allowed for an extra set of hands during set up and tear down; thanks, Grandba!!
So, after picking up our catalogs, finalizing our display boards and packing up, we headed out on Friday evening after Chris got home from work (again, what a great guy!), made a quick stop at our favorite Mexican restaurant and headed up to New Jersey looking like this:
Check back in or subscribe to our feed to get all the details about our booth, how our first trade show went, our NSS budget and lessons learned!