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

nss: paper.

by Liz on 07.21

paper-materials

National Stationery Show was, yikes, over two months ago and I still haven’t filled you all in on the juicy bits.

(They are juicy, right?)

The thing about National Stationery Show is that there is SO MUCH TO DO. People say that about a lot of things, like “Oh, packing for vacation, SO MUCH TO DO!” or “I have to write a blogpost today, SO MUCH TO DO!”

This is not that kind of “so much to do.”

Of course, we decided to make things all the harder for ourselves by hopping aboard NSS in March- allowing ourselves only two months to do all of the things that normally overwhelm otherwise sensible entrepreneurs. While pregnant. Smart, that’s us.

So, first thing I did was jump into planning all of the paper things we would need. So many of the other steps felt foreign to me- but designing pretty papery things? Yeah, that I can do.

read the rest…