2014 National Stationery Show! (PART 6: POST-SHOW)

2014 National Stationery Show! (PART 6: POST-SHOW)

So when better to reflect on the past year than on New Year’s Day? Here are the 2014 highlights in a nutshell: – Left my full-time job to pursue my small biz dream – Flew to NYC for the National Stationery Show! – TV debut! We were featured on Toronto’s #1 Morning Show, Breakfast Television – I’m named one of the Top 10 Greeting Card Designers in Toronto by blogTO – We now have over 50 new stockists including CHAPTERS/INDIGO! – Through our first pop up event the cards were on TV for the second time! – We’re in FOREVER 21! What incredible news to end the year! *** This post marks the last of my six part series about the National Stationery Show. Here are the quick links to the previous posts: Part 1: INTRO Part 2: PREP Part 3: BOOTH Part 4: THE SHOW Part 5: COSTS And now, Part 6: POST-SHOW Bottom line, NSS… was it worth it? Pursuing your own business is always risky, you never know how it’s going to pan out. If you decide to leave your career for it, saying goodbye to a steady paycheque is even more terrifying, especially with a child in the picture so I would not recommend this route unless you have a safety net in place. (I explain why I decided to pursue a work-at-home mom status in Part 1: INTRO). I wouldn’t have been able to pay my bills if it wasn’t for my savings account but even that was dwindling too quickly after you saw my NSS expense report. If you are financially secure and have a plan, go for it. Working for myself is the most gratifying and toughest...
2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 5: COSTS)

2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 5: COSTS)

The nitty gritty of it all — the cost of NSS (for queenie’s cards, anyway). I already posted the cost details of everything booth related in Part 3 and I’ve elaborated (or, ranted) on specifics about prep (flight, hotel, catalogues, line sheets, order forms and marketing materials) in Part:2, all so I could summarize the cost breakdowns in this chart: So there you have it! $11,356.54 is the (approximate) total I spent on my 2014 National Stationery Show experience. Yowza. The hotel fee really ate into my budget, I’ve made a ton of New Yorker friends since the show so if I were to ever exhibit again I would love to cross this expense off my list! I was lucky I could at least fly on points. The booth, well, there’s tons I could have done differently now that I’ve had my first experience. But honestly, looking back, I wouldn’t have changed a thing because it worked out so smoothly and I know if I attempted to put anything together on my own it would’ve been a disaster. Shipping costs was more than I estimated, as I mentioned before, I will 100% plan a month ahead of all self-given deadlines so I can ground ship all materials. It was a pain in the arse to lug to and from the airport too, what a mess! Inventory costs included all cellophane sleeves for the cards, press kits, tote bags, buttons/magnets/keychains, and of course the cards themselves (I brought 3 of each design with me but printed extras for orders). Marketing materials: I got a great deal for my business cards and postcards (no tax and free shipping), I’m happy...
2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 4: THE SHOW)

2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 4: THE SHOW)

To avoid another post-less month, I will make this one uber easy — in bullet form! Diving right into Part 4: THE SHOW! GETTING READY FOR SHOWTIME: – Dress comfortably and wear comfy shoes even if you have soft flooring, ultimately you’ll be standing all day so your feet will get sore, but ease the pain and don’t wear heels. – Eat breakfast! Use the restroom, fill up your water bottle and bring snacks because you’ll be stuck in your booth all day. – Hide all of your belongings and extra supplies — the IKEA storage boxes did wonders. – Arrive early every morning to tidy, organize your supplies (catalogues, business cards etc.) and to see if anything fell overnight. – Put 20 press kits in the media room but save some for your booth as well, buyers will ask if they didn’t get a chance to go upstairs. – BREATHE :) THE SHOW: – Don’t eat or use your phone in your booth. Water bottles are ok if you take quick sips, but a big no no to coffee cups. It looks uber unprofessional. – Smile like you mean it! – Don’t ask for business cards if they don’t offer or seem like they’ll give one to you. Offer an email sign up sheet so attendees can voluntarily give you their info (a lot of people ran out of cards and others who weren’t buyers wanted to stay in touch for possible future projects). – Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I had no idea what dropship meant, haha! – Take retailers’ suggestions and follow up with them after the show, especially if you adjusted...
2014 NATIONAL STATIONERY SHOW! (PART 3: BOOTH)

2014 NATIONAL STATIONERY SHOW! (PART 3: BOOTH)

I have never designed a booth before. I had no idea how to go about this and was completely flustered. I was on a tight budget and had lots of limitations since I had to ship and rent all of my components. The “before” photo above is all that the standard 10′ x 6′ booth package comes with, so there was a lot of work to be done! Initially, I was going to stick to the simple pipe and drape that’s included, but the curtains provided are black and I couldn’t make it work with my brand colours. With help from a former coworker who is a tradeshow manager, we looked at options that were more cost effective such as corrugated cardboard displays for the back wall, but that still left the two side walls to be black. These drawings below were created during the first sketch up phases: To have two white side walls, I then contemplated bringing my own fabric but the set-up manual is strict on flame-proofing and that was a headache in itself: “…booth equipment must be made of a non-flammable material. All decorative materials must be fire resistant and in accord with the standards established by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Certificates attesting to the fact that all materials referred to above have been flameproofed in accordance with Section C-19-161.1 must be notarized and submitted upon request. Flameproofing which is not in accordance with the Atlantic City, NJ Administrative Code is a violation and unacceptable.”   Ummm, yea, didn’t want to go down that route. It also states that exhibitors are not allowed to handle heavy equipment or tools: “…Any exhibitor or his full time employees...
2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 2: PREP)

2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 2: PREP)

Let’s talk about PREP! This is a lengthy post so I’ll get right into it. After I made my deposit to secure my space, I was glued to my computer in search of all things NSS. There was A LOT of everything. Deadlines are crucial so thankfully there is a general Exhibitor Checklist to give you an idea of where to start. Also, the staff at GLM was so helpful, I emailed the sales manager weekly and still keep in touch with her now. (Thanks, Trish!) Preparing for the show pretty much started as soon as I received my confirmation until the last hour before I flew out to NYC. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I was stressed to high hell. I think every exhibitor was and if they weren’t, they’re lying, lol. Here’s a list of pretty much everything I did in 4 months: A) Book my flight and hotel: I’m lucky my mom is a travel agent so she took care of my plane ticket and even flew me on points. She also found a great hotel less than a 10 minute walk away from Javits that had free WiFi and included breakfast. (This was important! I didn’t have time to search for food every morning and they had free coffee/tea 24/7 too. Thank you, Quality Inn!) Because I was such a keener I didn’t realize move-in dates weren’t announced yet when I gave my mom my flight preferences. I had the option to fly in on Friday to start set up but I, for some reason I will never know, decided that taking a 6am flight would suffice, not thinking I would have to...
2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 1: INTRO)

2014 National Stationery Show! (Part 1: INTRO)

Let’s start from the beginning of how I got into the whirlwind that is NSS :) Last May, I was nearing the end of my 12-month maternity leave when I came across this video: The National Stationery Show was nothing more than a pipe dream. queenie’s cards had only been a side business since 2008 and I just entered the world of wholesale that month (May 17, 2013 to be exact). I was scheduled to be back at my 9-5 like most moms after having a baby. As much as I enjoyed my job before I had Madeline (I was a photographer/graphic designer at a children’s toy company), I knew I was meant to explore other options. Having a stockist and then seeing this video all within a week left me wide-eyed with hopes to bring queenie’s cards to its true potential. I researched day and night and drove hubs crazy the next couple of months. The number one reason why I was hesitant to even submit my entry to this show was the cost. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City is THE place to be for all sorts of tradeshows. This means exhibiting at this venue is super expensive. I’ve set up a toyfair here back in 2010 so I knew how grand it really is. Fast forward to the fall, I was still thinking about the show and being away from Madeline for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week was unbearable. I needed to change this. On October 17, 2013 (I submitted my application a few days before, not thinking I would get accepted), I received the voicemail congratulating me on becoming an exhibitor! I must have...

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