Our National Stationery Show Journey

Hey ya’ll! We are so excited to share with you a WAY overdue recap of our National Stationery Show experience, along with an announcement that we’ll be heading back to NYC in May 2015 to do it all again! Here is a post about what the experience was like for us. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or advice, or if you’re interested in our products be sure to drop Liz a note at liddabits@gmail.com.

Photo Credit Oh So Beautiful Paper

 

Well, after 8 months of planning amidst the biggest year of our lives (so far), we can proudly say we have exhibited at the National Stationery Show in New York City – realizing a dream I’ve had since college graduation when my mom took me to the show as a graduation present in 2007.

I knew as soon as I wrote that first check that this was going to be the biggest and most difficult challenge I’d ever tackled, but I felt very confident having walked the show the year before with an eye out for solid booth designs, lighting and flooring ideas, best show locations, and of course, my competition.

PREP

Luckily right when I decided to do the show I had also just hired my super-assistant, or as we have decided to name her officially “Production Director,” Fresca Rutherfurd. She not only helped me stay sane during the craziness of the holidays, the new year, planning my wedding, freelance orders and keeping up my normal etsy shop, but she helped us stay on top of our crazy task list for the show which included:

– Developing an entire new line specifically for wholesale

– Developing packaging for retail

– Developing a custom ordering album for brick-and-mortar stores

– Getting feedback from industry veterans and local shops

– Designing our booth

– Reaching out to stores with pre-show mailers

– Planning and planning again to make sure we don’t go broke spending a week in New York City

Here are some pictures of what getting ready looked like in my little Atlanta apartment:

Catalog Prepping!

 

Super crate! Built my super friend Stephen and shared with super neighbor and friendor Mattie!

 

That moment it got “real” – printing and assembling our booth number labels for the corners of our walls.

 

A boost for late-night prepping a few days before we left for the show.

 

Last day of the show (complete with last day hair – yikes!) #wedidit!

 

I’m proud to say (and kind of baffled, to be honest) that we did it and successfully completed our new line, developed a catalog, made our album, added a mini album, contacted stores before the show, designed our perfect booth, and headed off to New York in mid-May with relative confidence that all of our hard work would pay off.

Sadly I had lots of images of prepping for the show, but once we hit show site we did not stop. The best images I have are all from Oh So Beautiful Paper’s recap which included our booth! Woohoo! Check out the post here.

 

RESOURCES

I had read SO many resources including my first find and still favorite from Jen & Omar of These Are Things. They recapped their first show experience including everything they did to plan, everything they spent money on, and everything they learned. They even guest blogged about their show experience for the NSS website here. Although after reading it the first time I thought to myself “what have I gotten into!?” I quickly acknowledged the long-term and non-immediacy of the benefits that they gained from the show.

EXPECTATIONS

Even with this reality check, I still went in with a certain level of minimum expectations of how the show would go for us. After all, last year there was no one at the show selling exclusively what I sell. I thought I’d be “reasonable” to hope to place 10 orders over 4 days of selling and sell 5 albums. My greatest fear was that I would have so many orders I would be exhausted and not be able to get them all produced. Every resource I read warned me of the impending doom of accepting too large an order, and all of my nervous energy before the show stemmed from the one thought of “what if I can’t get it all made? what if I sell too much?”

DAY BY DAY

My expectations went day by day, paralleling with the experience Jen & Omar had at their first show. I thought Sunday would be busy but mostly people just making their first laps and getting the lay of the land. Monday would be the busiest day and the most exhausting. The big buyers would be out that day, and I would place most of my orders this day. Tuesday would be slow – at some points extremely slow, and Wednesday would basically be pointless, but not to wander around as someone may come by if you leave your booth completely empty.

ROI

Although I didn’t hit my goals at the end of the show, or really even come close to them, I can say in retrospect that the insight we gained about the types of people that will be there the next time we participate will totally be worth the *hopefully* brief period of financial stress we have been feeling the last few months as our ROI has crawled to us.

NEXT YEAR

We have committed to 2015 (Booth 1544!) and we are excited to apply all the insight we gained from last year with a new energy and cleaner plate than last time around!

 

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