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Shop Girl: Thoughts on The National Stationery Show

I was on the phone with Tara Hogan from INK+WIT recently discussing the National Stationary Show and thought some of you would enjoy a little inside scoop on what it’s like to be an exhibitor there. Tara was kind enough to send along a few photos of the booth that she shared with three other small business owners, Jennifer from JHill Design, Janet from RSVP Press, and Anna from Sub-Studio. They all pretty much made the connection through this post, which is why I wanted to follow up to see how everything turned out.

These ladies decided to share a booth to cut down on costs since the show can be quite expensive for the little guys. I thought it may help to ask these ladies for their take on the overall experience of being new to such a massive show and what the experience was like for them personally. The hope is to shed light on the exhibitor experience from a small business perspective in case you have thought to set up a booth in the future. I’d like to open this post up to include some of your questions should you have any, fire away below!

Jennifer, Anna, Tara, and Janet. Go Ladies!

A new poster from INK + WIT.

In addition to Tara’s helpful words, I also asked Jennifer Hill from JHill Design, who was part of the booth, to share some thoughts on the topic. Let’s get started with Tara from INK+WIT.

Tara’s take on the show overall:
It was a great show full of designers and artists I had never met in person or seen before. That factor and meeting publishers, editors, press, and bloggers in person were the most successful for me. There was a lot of energy going on in the booths steadily with exception to the last 2 days which were quite slow overall for everyone. It was nice to see that during the last slow day all of the exhibitors were walking around trading products and meeting each other. I go got to talk to the lovely sisters Sabrina and Eunice form Hello Lucky for quite some time and they are super sweet! Their whole group is quite sincere and charming.

Tara’s thoughts on sharing a booth:
It is a great way to split costs but beware of how much space you need and how you split up the booth. Anna, Jennifer, Janet, and I luckily worked it all out and only had minor bumps to deal with which also worked out. However, our space was limited in size and we could not have a main area to sit and rest or take orders. We had to use a clipboard near our individual wall spaces and it was very unwelcoming to buyers. I would have liked the space to have a small table for a visitor to rest and relax so we could have spoken longer and had more privacy. But, you get what you pay for and we all were able to get to the show without breaking the bank. It was worth it but I would have my own booth next time for the sake of space and overall clear identification of what my brand is as buyers were a little confused about 4 different lines in one space. We clarified that we were 4 lines and all was well but a lot of passers by only grabbed one business card at times thinking we were all one group. The pros for new and smaller exhibitors is the costs so if you need to figure out how to get to the show without spending thousands then find a few people that are business savvy, trustworthy and ready to work as team to get accomplish a split booth. You do not want to get into a tiff about the space so work it out in the beginning to make sure all is fair.

Now let’s hear from the awesome Boston girl Jennifer Hill of JHill Design.

Jennifer’s take on the show:
For me the show was more of a meet and greet with the majority of buyers saying they would place their orders after the show. I gave away a good amount of catalogs and business cards, and also collected a good amount of cards so that I could follow up with buyers later. I was surprised at how many people from the press we met and was thankful that I had made a bunch of press kits to give out. I am very glad that I did the show though because I met some major stores that I never would have met by just emailing. I also got to meet stores that I currently sell to and others that I have talked with online. It also got me thinking about my line, in terms of what is missing and how it was organized.

Jennifer’s thoughts on sharing a booth:
I think sharing a booth was such a good way to go the first time around. It let us share the booth, furniture, fixture, and electricity costs (booths are far from cheap). Since the 4 of us were quite different it brought in a good mix of buyers. There was a lot of down time and it was nice to have people to chat with, people to watch your line for you while you took a walk around to see the other vendors. We were lucky that we all got along so well (since we’d never met in person before, we had met through decor8 – thank you by the way!), and were totally supportive of one another. I really miss not having them around now!

Jennifer adds a few notes:
The cons of the show are first off how expensive it is to do. Not just the booth but production of samples, traveling to and staying in NYC for a week – it all adds up. The show is 4 days, the last day there were hardly any buyers, it was kind of a bummer. The crazy thing is that they have this whole schedule a few days before opening when you can move into your booth and such. But when the show ends it is like a free for all with everyone leaving at once. It was pretty chaotic. All in all, as of right now I plan on doing the show again next year.

Can I have one of everything please?

Thank you Tara and Jennifer for sharing your thoughts on the National Stationery Show this year. If Anna or Janet would like to add their thoughts, I invite you ladies to jump in with your thoughts. If anyone has questions for these ladies or if you were also at the show and have thoughts to include that may benefit readers, please comment below. Thanks!

(photography from ink + wit, rsvp press, and jhill design)

Posted in small business, stationery on June 04, 2008

Indie Textile Designers on Etsy

In keeping with the theme of my last post, you may enjoy learning about some of my favorite independent textile designers who sell afforable handmade fabric (often by the yard) on Etsy. If you have any to add to this list, please email or comment below so I can edit this post to include them. :) I don’t want to leave anyone out!

Everyone loves Aunty Cookie, including me, so I have to include her in the mix. I adore her work, fabrics and trims alike. She’s amazing.

A Stitch in Dye creates hand-dyed and patterned fabric that you can either purchase by the yard or as quilts, coasters, pillows, table runners, even custom projects. If you are attending the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, NY this month, you will have a chance to meet the maker and view these gorgeous fabrics up close and personal.

Creature Comforts wrote about Kalla today and so I have to include her in this round up (Ez always finds the best!). Hitomi Kimura is Kalla, a Japanese textile designer based in Japan who designs and hand prints her fabric using water-based ink. I really adore this work.


Pippijoe is an independent designer with background in interior and landscape architecture based in Australia. She makes hand screen printed designs using using environmentally friendly inks on 100% hemp or hemp/cotton mixes that feel like linen. Stunning!

Of Paper and Thread is another favorite of mine. Danielle is a textile designer who freely shares the entire process on her blog. I really like that she sells her fabrics by the meter, you can make whatever you want from roman shades to a bench cushion.


If you love ethnic prints and patterns from India, Saffron Marigold is your shop. They stock everything from shower curtains to duvet covers, pillow shams, sheer curtains, and beyond. They design their own fabric and their artisans hand block print it in small lots. These tab curtains are so pretty for $23!

Bianca van Meeuwen of Hollabee is based in Australia but a native of the Netherlands, her Dutch heritage evident in her design aesthetic. Her clean modern designs are fresh and cheerful. Bianca designs the fabrics herself and has them hand screen printed by a professional screen printer in Melbourne.

Have you heard of Maramiki? She’s new to Etsy and based out of Chicago. I really like her screen printed floral designs, they look great! Welcome to Etsy Maramiki!

Here’s a few more textile designers who sell their own fabrics on Etsy. Just think of the projects you can work on with these lovely goods!

Out of the Box
Crazy Coconut
Skinny LaMinx (love her!)
Fisk & Fern
Jezze – I hope she stocks her store again soon!

Updates:

  • Cicada Studio (Thanks, Dr. Andy!)
  • Lara Cameron, though she just moved her shop I still want to include her since Etsy is where I purchased fabric from her last year. (Thank you for the reminder Bolt and Frolic!)
  • Jan DiCintio just told me about her store called Daisy Janie, along with the work of textile designer PataPri, whom I love and forget to include in this list so thanks Jan for emailing me!
  • Miko Design in the Netherlands, thank you Erika for sharing your company with us, love your nesting dolls!

I’ll gladly add to this list if you’d like to email or comment below with your favorites.

(images linked above to source)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Etsy Faves, Objects, small business on June 02, 2008

Get Real: Design Motifs

Welcome to a brand new weekly feature called Get Real. This will be a post for readers to jump in and voice opinions on topics relating to decorating, blogging, small business, and the design world in general. I’ll post a new topic and a few questions to get you started weekly on Thursdays. Then everyone is free to jump in and participate. If you have any questions that you would like addressed, please email your suggested topic to me and I’ll consider it for Get Real. This week we’re talking about trends…

Zig zags are hot, silhouettes remain strong, birds are big, what would you like to see become a more common design motif? An octopus? Seahorse? Fox? How about a shape? Maybe some polka dots? Nesting dolls? Deer? Please don’t say Spread legs!

Go ahead, throw some ideas out, maybe it will inspire the many lovely artists and designers who stop by and read this post. You never know who is reading, your idea may kick off the next big thing. This is also your space to vent about the motifs you can’t stand and why. It’s important to be honest about design because let’s face, everyone isn’t loving the exact same things and it’s okay to admit it!

I hope you enjoy Get Real!

Posted in inspiration, real talk, small business, trends on May 29, 2008

The Home of Nonchalent Mom

Did you catch the stunning modernist home of online shop owner Nonchalent Mom featured on the Domino site today? What a stunning place Carina Schott has! At first glance, I thought she lived in Australia or southern California due to the lighting and architecture, but she’s a fellow New Englander, Rhode Island to be exact.

What a gorgeous property, here are four of my favorite spots in her stylish abode. First up, the pool. Who doesn’t dream of having a pool like this? My family had an inground pool once, but only for a short period of time. That was the best time of my childhood I think! There is nothing like swimming in your own backyard, complete with a seating area, lanterns, and an assortment of pretty pastel floats like these of course.

Who doesn’t love a hallway that is part functional (storage, seating) and part gallery? This looks so fresh and inviting, and the striped rug complement some of the frames on the wall, along with the bright yellow chairs, a nice way to welcome guests and make them feel instantly at ease because your art shares with them parts of your personality. I believe that people respond well to works of art in the entryway, it adds warmth and character.

Don’t you enjoy seeing all of the color here? What an sweet work space, I like the shots of fuchsia, blue, and yellow and the height of the work table. I can’t tell if those flowers are wall decals, a mobile, or what exactly but for those who don’t know where to place decals, this is a nice look without going overboard. One thing someone told me recently is that they see decals for sale everywhere but rarely see them in homes and I have to agree, at least here in the northeast U.S. I’d like to see people use them more often though, I think they can be applied without looking cheesy if combined with shelving or art, for instance.

Ah, suzanis. Still quite in vogue here in the states. It’s rare to find a suzani in this colorway though, most are very bright and multi-colored. This two tone look is so nice. I have to check on her source to see where she found it, it certainly is a rare find. (Running to check.)

Okay I’m back, it’s by Erica Tanov, I’ve added a photo of her San Francisco store directly above because I love the arrangement and the things shown, the painting, the display cases, it’s all so lovely. This is exactly the kind of store that I enjoy browsing. But I don’t see bedding here. Ah, wait! I found it in her web shop right here along with lots of other delightful finds, like these Turkish towels.

What an inspiring collection of things in the home of the Nonchalant Mom! And I have to highlight the fact that she lives in Rhode Island. My mother and her family are from southern RI, I’ve spent many a summer on my grandparents farm there and it is such a beautiful state. You rarely hear about it though, especially in the pages of design magazines. I often feel like hip American cities get a good chunk of the attention, yet stylish people live all over America and I love that some magazines give attention to this other group of cool peeps, too. Just because someone doesn’t maintain a posh townhouse in the city doesn’t mean that their home in the suburbs or country isn’t just as interesting or magazine worthy.

More on this topic, and perhaps you have some opinions to share because I’d love to hear what you have to say… I was speaking with a group of ladies recently and they confessed feeling shut out because they don’t live in some hip American city, yet they are very cool and have style oozing out of their pores despite the fact that they live in a rural area or god forbid, the ‘burbs (insert Psycho sound effects here).

I happen to believe that we are all interesting no matter where we live and that a suburban woman is no less stylish than a city girl, It all comes down to personal style and where you live cannot give you what you inherently have within. What do you think, do you often feel alone with your cool self where you live, like no on around gets you or that you aren’t living in the ‘right’ place though you genuinely love your home? Am I making sense because reading that last sentence sort of confused the heck out of me too. But I think you get my point. How do you handle others when they try to lump you in with how they perceive suburban or country women to be, live like, etc.?

(photography by melanie acevedo for domino magazine)

Posted in inspiration, small business on May 29, 2008

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