Me My Life Pink Loves Brown

At The National Stationery Show 2008

Yesterday, I talked about setting up. Today, I’ll go into details about what it was like being an exhibitor and what the show was like.

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

I started my business in 2005, but this was our first time doing the show. Unfortunately, from what I hear it was pretty slow this year (blame the economy). Still, I picked up some great new stores that will be carrying my Pink Loves Brown goodies soon, and I’m very excited! I also talked to some amazing people and met tons of fellow bloggers and artists that I had only ‘known’ online. That was probably my favorite thing about the show – I loved meeting everyone.

Speaking of meeting people, I saw Chris and Keith from fred flare walk by the booth. An embarassingly stupid “Oh!” escaped my lips, accompanied by an equally stupid arm flailing. A favorable impression was not made. Yeah.

My Periodic Table of Sentiments were up for a ‘Best New Product’ award, but we didn’t win. Do you know what did? A card with three hamsters, all of which had halos. Glitter halos. And the card lit up when you opened it. Huh. Geared toward a slightly different market, wouldn’t you say? Congratulations sparkle angel hamsters.

Some of the Best New Product Displays

Our booth was all the way down towards the end. We were near some great companies (Jack & Lulu, Whimsy Press, Bob’s Your Uncle…), but most people seemed tired by the time they got down to us. I’m not sure how much the location matters, but I suspect that the other side of the show was a bit more hoppin’.

Oh, but we were across from the Lomography booth, and boy were we glad! We needed some fun people to be near us or I think Brandon and I would have gone crazy. Hi Lomo peeps! We love you!

Midway through the first day, a woman from GLM (the company that runs the gift show) came in and gave me some advice. She said the booth looked great, but that I might want to move the merchandise towards the front so that people can see more from the aisle. That way it feels more like they’re still in their space, and people are more comfortable with that.

We rearranged the furniture that night.

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

The table felt a little crowded with all four chairs around it, but we didn’t have anywhere to store them. I decided to tuck them under the tables along the wall, and it looked fine. Actually, it looked kind of cute.

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

Most of the other booths didn’t have their business cards and information easily accessible, whereas ours was front and center. Do you know why? It took me a day and a half to figure it out. Contacts! Follow-ups! If people can just grab your card and go, you have no idea who they are and where they’re from. Oops. At least I figured it out for the rest of the show.

Our shelves fell off the wall several times during the show. It was like a guessing game. When will the next one fall? Which one will it be? That was fun.

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008
See? You can hardly tell that the shelves are all cattywhompus!

I don’t think I’d use my round table again, unless I had more space. Hardly anyone sat down to write an order – most people just pulled things off of the shelves and used the table as a surface to gather everything they wanted.

In addition to people pulling items temporarily from the shelves, we did give away a few samples. It is a trade show, and you can’t sell anything directly at the show, but I’m glad that I brought more than one of each item. We talked to a lot of reps, and several asked for samples. We were able to just grab items off the shelves for the people that needed them, and I know of another exhibitor that was able to provide some items immediately for a magazine photoshoot.

We had tons of little 1″ buttons to give away. They were popular and a lot of people took one, but I think they were pretty small-time. A lot of the booths were giving out tote bags, which meant that there were a lot of people carrying around big advertisements for those booths (hello, prominent logo!). Very smart, if a bit costly.

Pink Loves Brown at the National Stationery Show, 2008

I’m sure I’d make changes next time. A different layout, a smaller table, making sure the shelves don’t fall of the walls… you know, little things like that. ;) A lot of people were surprised to hear that it was our first show – it was an odd compliment (they expect a company’s first booth to look bad?). Still, I think the booth turned out pretty well. I was proud, and it was a nice feeling to be surrounded by the things I had made.

It was an expensive show, preparing for it was incredibly stressful, and I spent a lot of sleepless nights working. Where do I sign up for next year?

Next up: Our experience after the show.

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  • Renee Nordholm
    May 29, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Love your booth setup! It is absolutely amazing and very well thought out. I think you did a marvelous job, and it’ll only get better!

  • ann
    May 29, 2008 at 9:53 am

    you’re space was perfect – you really get a feel for your style. hope the show was fun & successful.

  • danielle
    May 29, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I really loved your booth. I was so wanting to introduce myself to you then, but when I was going by yours – you were busy helping with orders. But I love your stuff, and your booths was one of my favorites. Keep up the amazing work.

  • laurie
    May 29, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Great blog today, I am really enjoying reading about your experience at the show.

  • Caitlin
    May 29, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Thanks so much for telling us about your experience, it was really interesting. It seems you learned a lot and handled things really well ( like the water situation!) Your booth looked beautiful!

  • Caitlin
    May 29, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Nicole, your booth set up and these posts are GREAT!!! :D I look forward to reading about the show and seeing pictures from it everyday, LOL – It’s become my new guilty pleasure!

  • Vee
    May 29, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    love your booth and products!! lovely and i love buttons so if i was there i woulds so have taken one :)

  • Silvia
    May 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    You should be very proud of yourself and of what you’ve done! Congrats dear! It ‘s always a satisfaction seeing the things you’ve created around you..I feel the same during a the end after several weeks without any sleep and so much stress I’m happy :-D

  • laura
    May 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    thanks for sharing, nicole!! i’m planning on trying for NYIGF next year (maybe!) so its great to get an exhibitor’s perspective, especially one this detailed. your booth is really really lovely. really really.

  • Kristy
    May 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Being a frequent exhibitor at several trade shows (of the footwear variety), I can tell you that you booth certainly stacks up and the merchandise looks fab!

    It’s nice that you were also able to learn a few things along the way about presentation, layout, etc…and meeting people is the best thing.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Modern Crush
    May 29, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Beautiful Nicole! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, especially to us that would like to try to get to that point ourselves in the future. Well done and I look forward to reading your posts to follow:)

  • Hannah
    May 29, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    The secret for keeping the shelves up is: hot glue!

  • Morgan
    May 29, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    So much fun to read your posts about trade shows. Between the ages of 12 and 20 I probablly attended about 200 shows with my moms business, and its so fun to read about someone elses expierences. Just a few notes: Location-PAYS OFF. Sometimes it takes a few years of doing a show to get the senority of being in a good location, but it does make a world of difference (both for business and boredom). Oh and as far as the tote giveaways, theres someone at every show whos stuff is in EVERYONES hands. Its a ton of money to do things like that, and I always think if you have a good product it will speak for itself. The whole booth looks so great though. Love your blog. (sorry to ramble)

  • Christiane
    May 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Ditto all the “loved your booth” comments!

    I had a thought — maybe you did this?

    The table seems to me like a great place for a free promo. Offer anyone who drops in the opportunity to send a postcard to a friend or loved one for free. All they have to do is sit down and fill it out.

    If you could get perforated cards, the top half could be a place for you to capture customer info. Then you tear off and send the bottom portion after the show is over.

    Obviously there is a printing and postage cost, but then you have their info. And you can send them something later to say thank you, or product updates, etc.

    Anyway, I totally would have been hanging out at your table ;-)

  • Beth
    May 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Is it overkill to echo the last 2934058 people and say how much I enjoy reading about the stationery show and how much I love your work? You are seriously my inspiration for starting my own business and doing the things I’ve only dreamed of doing. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Emily
    May 29, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    stupid hamsters…your booth looks so great and i love the flor tiles. i keep wanting to order some of those.

  • ellen crimi-trent
    May 30, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Hi I just found your blog, I am on the other side of Stationery in which I license my work to manufactures. I was at the Show and was able to really walk it this year since I was not showing at Surtex, I am sorry I didn’t stop by but there are soo many booths and my attention span of looking at allot of new things is limited. I do remember yours because of the pink!! I have a fondness for that color since I had a pink booth at Surtex for 2 years until I did brown and blue!!

    I hope the show pans out for you it is hard in this economy but those who ride it out should do okay, I know for me things are finally picking up so we shall see.

    I always admire those who manufacturer their own goods, I could not have the staying power with that since I feel I would not have any time left for creating!!

  • Nina
    May 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Your booth looks scrumptious, your products are beautiful…you have an excellent designer’s eye :-)

  • Susan
    May 30, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts from an exhibitors perspective. I so want to do this one day. You’re a great inspiration to me (and from the way it looks, many others who read your blog)and I look forward to reading your blog each day. Can’t wait to see what you post next!

  • gesikah
    May 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Just wanted to say your booth and products are adorable. Hope you get a huge payoff for all the work you put into them.

  • sewbettie
    May 30, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to link to this on my blog – it is so helpful! Your booth is beautiful.

  • pip
    May 31, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Having been involved in doing trade shows for the gift and stationery biz for nearly 25 years, i have to say i am veru impressed at your efforts for first timers. Your set-up, right down to your crate, seemed like seasoned pros!

    any chance you can pass on some pointers on how you handle and who does your printing?

  • jenny
    June 1, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    it looks lovely! you must have been so pleased with it (apart from the flood and the cattywhompus (??) shelves!
    well done! You deserve a rest now, and some playtime with your pets!

  • doane
    June 1, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Nicole thanks for sharing your “rookie” perspective, very insightful!

  • mary.c
    June 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Nicole your whole booth is absolutely gorgeous! Everything looks so beautiful — I only wish I could’ve seen it in person. :)

  • Erin
    June 3, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I got to meet you and see your booth on Sunday, so it’s cool to see the re-arranged version here. As everyone else said, your stuff looked wonderful. You have a gift for branding. Oh yes, and cattywhompus is my new favorite word!

  • Amy
    October 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    A friend of mine showed me your blog and I LOVE IT! As someone who has just started doing trade shows for jewelry I know exactly what you mean about figuring all those little things out, like business cards and getting buyers contact info! I put alot of time into my displays, and I think that a lot of people don’t…I guess thats one good things about being a design junkie! I do have a question about your walls in the booth…did they come with the booth, or did you put those together yourself…all of the booths that I have been in have been curtain walls, and I LOVE the idea of having a some solid walls to have displays on! Enough from me…thanks for all your great posts!

  • Angela
    February 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Where did you get the shelves, I would love to have these in my studio!

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    […] advertising revenue. Each year, the balance of our finances changed a little (2008 took a hit from doing the National Stationery Show — ouch), but Brandon’s job was always the […]