Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Swimming Lessons - my first tradeshow, Miss Universe contestants are shorter (and yes, skinnier) than they look on tv and when a breakdown breaks down

Last week I exhibited at my first tradeshow - Pool in Las Vegas.

Pool is a very cool, cutting edge indie design show and branded as "the place to find emerging art & design driven trends".

The cash and carry section where most jewelry makers exhibit was full with jewelry when I applied, so I ended up in the next most affordable area called CO-OP (although, it is the most expensive per square foot piece of real estate at the show). My space was 6'X8' and really a challenge for me to work with.

I didn't have my space assignment (since CO-OP spaces are not numbered) until set up and was stoked to find I had an 'end' location. Although, the next day when the food area was set up my 'end' disappeared and I bordered the buffet line- I was still happy to have some extra inches for my signage and a little more room in my space (hoping everyone else didn't hate me for this).

The show opened on Tuesday at 9 a.m. (I set up the day before) and when my sister and I arrived at the booth Tuesday morning we already had a customer waiting for us. She wrote a $1400.00 order for her California store and my sister and I were thinking we were going to be super busy and write a million orders that day!

(we actually didn't have another customer in the booth for 2 hours)

The traffic was sporadic so I never really got into any kind of groove that day with my 'spiel'. I had planned for customers to sit down and pick from my lookbook, but they wanted to see actual products and were usually piling the things they wanted onto the table.

(the good news was that I had brought alot of product with me - way too much - but the bad news is that my linesheet pictures for the locket lids were too small for customers to decide without asking to see the real thing, so things felt a little chaotic)

I also have to admit (somebody smack me - ugh) that not once during the 3 day show did I ever say the words "can I write up an order for you?" which was, you might remember, along with my enthusiasm for my work, my entire sales plan.

Luckily, some of the buyers took matters into their own hands and said "let's write an order" or they just started telling me what they wanted.

I got great feedback from buyers and many of them wanted my display props which I am happily sending out with their orders.

Two words about Las Vegas - TOO MUCH. Too much going on, too much stimulation, too much cigarette smoke, too much ... of everything except the really important things like in-room coffee makers (what's up with that Las Vegas?), refrigerators where you can actually store things and keep them cold, a movie channel without a $15.00 charge attached to each movie.

Of course, Las Vegas did have ... men throwing escort cards at any man walking down the street, condoms in my room, a tv that reminded me everytime I turned it on that the title of any movie purchased would not appear on my bill, tvs in the elevators, a tv in my bathroom (which actually did come in handy the night of my "break-down" while I sobbed, ate cold french fries and watched Dr. Phil from the tub).

I will wrap this up on Friday. Research shows that the average blog reader spends 45 seconds reading a blog post, so I probably lost everyone at ... "the show opened" ...

19 comments:

eNVe said...

That's so awesome Cat (about all the good stuff)! I guess I'm not the average blog reader because I made it to the end of your post. :) I'm waiting on the edge of my seat!

silver.work said...

Well you didn't lose ME! =-) I agree about LAS, those are never the people I see in the tv ads or billboards. Those folks must go to different places than I do.

Can't believe you made do with such a small space but it does sound reasonably successful. I'm not much of an agressive seller either but your work is so innovative that I'm sure buyers were inspired to stock up. Save me two or three pieces for the holidays! :: lynn ::

Kendra Zvonik said...

nope--you had me right up to the very end! looking forward to your next post, cat!
i have been to las vegas and was completely overwhelmed. i can only imagine what you must have been feeling with all that circling around your art & business. sorry to hear you had a meltdown (totally understandable)but at least the bathroom was comfy! love ya!

TiLT said...

wowsers - that is a lot...up & down for sure - looking forward to hearing about the rest...and I think your readers tend to be above average & can read for more than 45 seconds :P

Catherine Ivins said...

You are right Tilt! I think it was really my inability ro write more than 45 seconds worth of anything that made any sense today ....

xo

sheila at shecological said...

Hey Cat, congrats on getting right back on the blog bike! Maybe you can think of crying in the tub as less of a breakdown and more of a release of all the toxins you built up from being in Vegas! great post, well written. congrats on your sales!

Anonymous said...

I can understand why your buyers wanted your props. Your booth was well executed- clean, consistent, and eye catching.

By the way, I read way more than 45 seconds, but I have a bad habit of following political blogs.

Orion Designs said...

I read the whole blog post and it was a good one. I'm glad you took lots of orders, even if you had to be prompted!

Shows are always stressful, but I can't even imaging doing one so far from home. Kudos to you!

M.M.E. said...

What is up with no in-room coffee? Weird. I'm so happy the show went well. What a wonderful way to start off with a giant check!!! I can't wait to hear how many stores you will now be selling in!

Brenda said...

You are my heroine! I am so glad you did it. I'd read another 45 minutes worth on your experience - want to hear it all and live vicariously through you! Thank you for sharing this with us, Cat! xo

TesoriTrovati said...

You didn't lose me. In fact from your title I was compelled to read to the end. Sorry it didn't work out as great as your expectations. But even that one sale does sound divine. And I believe that it takes multiple times to get someone to look at your work so maybe this was just the beginning. Hope you have a better day.
Enjoy the day!
Erin

Wild Woman Jewelry said...

hey cat~ i'm with you on the inroom coffee machines...i asked once at caesar's palace and was told they want you to have to walk through the casino to get your coffee~ ha! i can't even see the casino without at least one cup!

can't wait to hear about the rest of your experience- i'm sure there were lots more sales and i admit, i'm curious about what sent you to the tub...

alamodestuff said...

From the pics, your booth looked great. Ever think about the New York Int'l gift show? They have a handmade section, although I'm sure it's pricey. You'd do amazing there!

Love to hear about your experience with these shows. I'm constantly pulled that way but just hate the toll (both physical and emotional) it takes on me.

donauluft said...

I read it till the end and I´m forward to hear more!

DancingMooney ♥ said...

Aww, Cat! I am so in awe of you for even DOING a trade show! It's okay if you don't want to play in Vegas, I'm still afraid of true *art* shows.

But you did good girl! You got your product out there, and you wrote some orders! And you LIVED to tell about it! :D

Which day was worse or better? The day you sold a million prints at the mall or the days you worked Vegas!

You have the courage and wisdom to approach markets I would never dare.

DancingMooney ♥ said...

p.s. I read the whole thing too. ♥

Isette said...

You didn't lose me and I'm awaiting Friday's installment. I've never done a trade show, but it's on the docket!

Christine @ Shutters said...

Let me start by saying: As a Buyer I’ve been doing trade shows big and small across the country for the past 12 years.
It’s not you or your stuff…It’s the crappy economy, attendance at these shows have been lack luster at best. By both Buyers and Vendors. It’s very sad. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Don’t be discouraged. You have an awesome product, a successful business, plus, a great business mind.
FYI…My favorite trade show of choice…Atlanta AmericasMart. You would do very well.

Catherine Ivins said...

thanks to everyone for all the great supportive comments- love you guys- and I will definitely check out Atlanta Christine!