timing.

by Liz on 08.04

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The first of August hit me pretty hard this year.

Every year there’s just a smidge of dread, like the Sunday night gloom that falls before the beginning of a work week. It gives notice of a shortly ending summer, and I scurry to make sure that we’ve enjoyed just enough before the plodding drudgery. Have we eaten enough watermelon, iced enough coffee, adequately gathered freckles on our cheeks?

This summer cut the mustard. I checked off an imaginary list- inspected a pretty solid flip-flop tan, finished a bowl of cherries, and flopped soggy swimsuits over the edge of the bathtub to dry.

Still. That wave of apprehension came on just the same.

It seems this is a year of arbitrary time markers, and August is where it all converges into a boring and mathematical sort of perfect storm, only relevant to over-thinkers and worriers (so, yes, me).

I turn 29 this August, and you’d think I fretted enough about that particular passage of time last year to maybe ease off this go-round. But no, my friends, those 30 under 30 lists still crowd my newsfeed. My husband jokingly points out the few gray hairs beginning to form a nice streak in my overgrown bangs. And more than these things, I have one vivid memory of being around eight years old, considering the age of my then just-thirty parents, and thinking to my small self with surety, “Thirty is when you are old.”

I don’t feel very old. But some things indicate that might be the case. For starters, a second baby is scheduled to arrive at the end of this month. “Scheduled” is a sort of ha-ha-funny word there. In my experience, babies don’t keep day planners and aren’t terrific with punctuality. But still, at a time when “trimesters” and “weeks” and “months” all seem contradictory one to another and hypothetical in this way that I can’t grasp- “four more weeks” is a very hard and fast, tangible reality. Just four Tuesdays from now. Four re-runs of SNL til we have another person. I can look at the page of the calendar where “today” sits up in the left hand corner, and down there toward the bottom of the very same page is “baby.” No page flipping necessary.

Baby is a sort of funny, out-of-place experience right here in August, butted against my 29th birthday, just before fall begins. Because of another small baby in my life (ahem), August no longer means “back to school” and lesson plans and a sweaty day of desks squealing into place in a classroom. I hadn’t expected to be done with teaching years just yet, but those babies and their interesting timing sometimes show up without first conferring. The original plan had been to start trying (or, more accurately, to stop not-trying) after we’d been married five years.

And here we are, coming up on five years married this fall.

Only at this five year marker, instead of just beginning to think about a first child, we’ll be a few weeks into caring for a second. That’s a good deal different than we’d planned. Two whole additional small people different.

It all feels disjointed a bit, laid out together. The expectations I had as a naive kid for “THIRTY.” The plans I made as a naive adult for “FIVE YEARS.” Here I am, watching these important days casually sidle up, and holding my breath with solemn expectation.

But, they’re… just days, after all, no matter how I try to imbue them with meaning or pin them to overwrought blogposts.

Babies happen and careers change and gray hairs begin to grow. Whether these things take place at thirty years old or five years into marriage or on the first of August, it seems none of it is quite as big as it feels in theory.

 

 

 

 

nss: results.

by Liz on 07.24

 

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So, the results.

There’s something so mind-numbingly all-encompassing about planning for such a big event in such a small space of time that now we’re sort of aimless. What did we do back before we spent everyday planning for stationery show? Going to bed before 3am… that’s a thing? That we can do now?

It was embarrassingly emotional for me. Yes, I’m about eight months pregnant at this point, so maybe that whole exhausted, hormonal piece came into play. But there were so many people with generous offers to help and be supportive. From lending us expensive equipment, to contacting friends in the area to help us out, to sending little care packages, to offering seasoned and experienced advice. I was overwhelmed, truly, by the people who jumped in to lend a hand.

I was also really lucky to have J by my side the whole time. Not just because he deftly maneuvered a box truck through Manhattan traffic and carried the majority of the booth while I sat on a cardboard box fanning myself, but it added an air of adventure to what otherwise would’ve just been workworkwork. Being the saps we are, we found little ways to have fun.

I guess I feel some obligation  to tell you how things ended. We made X amount of millions! Unfortunately, trade shows don’t seem to work that way, and the general consensus in the booths around us, is that this particular year of this particular trade show was especially hard to gauge. We collected business cards, we received amazing positive feedback- on our booth, on our cards, on my style of watercolor painting. But very few people just walk up and hand you a stack of money. It’s a slow build sort of thing, which isn’t necessarily what you want to hear after scrambling and sweating and scraping together enough money to buy a modest used car. And I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear. While I can’t tell you “we made X amount of millions!” I CAN tell you:

1. Two (2!) of our items were finalists for Best New Product.

2. We made some amazing connections in press.

3. We met friends we’ve been working with for a little while, and others we’ve been dreaming of working with.

4. We’re in some new shops.

5. There’s more top secret good news in the works, with full stories to come!

 

Sorry. No one likes a cliffhanger! But that seems to be the way it works with these things, as I’m loathe to find out the hard way.

In the meantime, THANK YOU. To the folks who supported our Kickstarter, those that offered building help and places to stay and vehicles to drive, and the ones who cheered and championed the whole time we were there. Thanks!!

nss: booth.

by Liz on 07.22

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Frankly, building walls was the scariest part of this task for me.

And I wasn’t even going to be the one to do it. Josh swore on stacks of Bibles that he would be able to build us walls for an 8×10 booth, no problem, and I smiled apprehensively.

Other than walls, we need to fill the dang thing. Budget was an issue every step of the way, so we really had to be creative about how to stand out without dumping a bunch of cash.

We’re super lucky to be so close to NYC, so rather than renting furniture or worrying about sending everything by freight, we decided the cheapest option would be to just use furniture from around our house and haul to NYC in a van.

As a buyer at these shows, I’ve always felt overwhelmed by all of the stark white, commercial-feeling spaces. Super clean and modern, for sure, and I imagine they draw a lot of people in. But, I personally felt all of those bright stark white spaces bleed together, while also being really aggressively BRIGHT. In contrast of all of that, I wanted to make our space a sort of cozy, welcoming respite from the commercial and clean. Warm yellow is always my go-to color, which already lends itself to being cozy and inviting. We built on that with the homey hardwood furniture, and then tried to think of anything else that would cozy up the space- make it feel less like a show room, and more like i invited you into my house for coffee and, oh okay fine, some stationery. Table lamps, vases of flowers, and definitely several places to sit seemed the best way.

I figured the old desk would make a perfect spot to sit and flip through a catalog or write an order, while a pair of chairs would make a nice rest spot for weary buyers after endless walking. We brought the old wooden bookcase and several baskets to hide all of the ugly necessities we’d need throughout the day- change of shoes, bottled water, deodorant, phones- while the bare shelves were great for stacks of catalogs and jars of pencils.

We struggled with how to inexpensively get our logo up without taking up too much wallspace and ended up jutting the bookshelf out as a sort of counter for people to come grab a few freebies. We bought our logo in custom vinyl and hallelu, Josh’s experience hanging vinyl made that part of things easy peasy.

In hindsight, I realize yellow might not have been the best plan. Yellow is so tricky! It can go to neon or too mustard very easily, so we chose very carefully, and I was thrilled that folks walking by commented on how nice the yellow looked. But it didn’t translate as wonderfully in photos, and I found that a lot of the photos I found of my own booth in instagram feeds made me shudder a bit at the harsh, harsh yellow.

 

desk, bookcase, lamp, baskets, vases, wooden chair: from home

teal chairs: Ikea

jute rug: Target

waste basket: Target

wall construction: Lowes and Home Depot and scrounging in my in-laws’ shed

clip lights, extension cords, surge protectors: Home Depot

shelves, frames, matting, envelopes: scrap stores, paper stores and Frame USA

vinyl logo sign and booth numbers: Dana Decals

flowers: a bodega on our way to the show

embossed pencils: Get Stuck Up

candy: grocery store