NSS 2015 Sneak Peek: Ferme à Papier

Aaaaah! The 2015 National Stationery Show is less than two weeks away! Today I’m excited to share the first sneak peek from an NSS 2015 exhibitor – Ferme à Papier by Cat Seto (Booth #2034)! For her newest releases, Cat is channeling a geometry theme that she’s calling “Golden Rectangle...harmony in geometry.” Cat is incorporating the golden ratio and rectangle into all aspects of organizing and giving with new Foiled Yearless Planners and Foiled greeting cards, along with an illustrated a set of friendship cards and a “Girl Power” art print.

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Thanks Cat!

Photo Credits: Ferme à Papier

Brick + Mortar Q + A: Perfecting your Stationery Show Booth

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Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Dear Emily, 

I was sketching out booth designs for the National Stationery Show and had a few questions (see below!)

xoxo, Sarah

Parrott Design Studio

1. Do you find it helpful to label the card category (eg Birthday, Thank You) above/near the cards?

NSS 2014: The Paper Cub via Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Paper Cub uses their own signature lettering in a larger size, making it well branded and easy to read!

Labeling cards by category is a great idea, but make sure it integrates well into your booth. It should be well branded with the rest of your booth design, not a messy/half-done afterthought. These labels are your table of contents, and act as your megaphone (Hey! These are the cards/accessories I sell! Come in for a closer look) so use type that’s large enough to read if I’m standing in the aisle. Also, don’t feel constricted to the normal categories. Birthday, Thank You, Baby, Wedding, Sympathy are all important, but if you have an unusual category let us know what you call it, that can start a conversation. If you don’t create cards in traditional categories, think of this as a reminder to highlight or embolden your line in smaller sub-groups, so that buyers can view it in bite-size chunks.

2. I have never highlighted what is new and what is a best seller, but I found I was constantly pointing them out to buyers. Is it helpful for buyers to see this or is it a better idea to highlight these categories in their own section? 

NSS 2014: Fugu Fugu Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Fugu Fugu Press highlights new additions on their stickers with a different color, the perfect visual cue to buyers.

It’s a good idea to highlight new and best seller cards for obvious reasons, but I would be careful that these tags don’t become visual clutter. I like little flags/stickers that note new cards cards because this shows you’re coming up with fresh content. Noting “best sellers” may be smart, if you’ve done a significant volume of sales. But if you’ve never sold wholesale before, or only have a few stockists, it may be a subjective/possibly irrelevant distinction to the buyers you meet at the Stationery Show. By telling me what a best seller is, you’re giving a recommendation, so make sure you’re confident. I would always recommend a small sticker or flag next to the card, rather than creating a whole section to note new or best sellers. A mailer or email is a great way to send me a visual of all new cards, but at the Stationery Show, I want to see all of your birthday cards together, because I’m comparing them against each other to make my selections.

3.  A lot of exhibitors are taking orders digitally. I still love writing out an order and feel like too much can go wrong at the Javits (wonky wifi, computer error), etc. As a buyer, do you like leaving a booth with a physical piece of paper/receipt, or are you happy with an emailed order?  Or does it really matter as long as we take the order quickly and correctly?

It doesn’t really matter. Do the system you’re most comfortable with and do it well. I don’t care if you give me paper that I throw away, I do care if you lose my order. If you are doing digital orders, I would suggest sending an email confirmation asap. I’m making a lot of orders and I don’t remember what I ordered a day later, especially if there’s no physical record, this can lead to confusion a month later when my order arrives. If you are taking the order by hand, do your best to make it clear. Many of the paper orders I get are so messy, I can’t tell what I’ve ordered based on what vendors write down. Which ever way you do it, get it to the retailer clearly and as quickly as possible. (If you do go digital, it’s probably not a bad idea to have a backup system, just in case!)

4. Show Specials – I remember you asking me if I had one last year (I did not) and you were trying to maximize specials at the show and would order from me after if I didn’t have one (and you did!). I am thinking of offering one this year as I think it would help with not only new orders, but re-orders. We have been talking about this on the Tradeshow Bootcamp forum on Facebook and we all seem to agree they are a good thing!

I just think show specials are smart. They are a marketing tool. They serve as: 1) a nice way to say “hey, this is a special time, thanks for coming out!” 2) a good incentive for a buyer who is on the fence about placing an order at the show, or 3) A great way to make existing retailers take their credit card out again. If I know I’ll be buying from you later in the year, I’ll certainly do it now with financial incentive. I talked about show specials in this post, but essentially, I think there are two smart specials: 1) Free shipping 2) A percentage off or free product for buying a little more. How do you decide what this should be? Look at your average order – is it $200, then make the incentive 10% off for orders over $250; or order $250 and get $25 in free product; or order 12 dozen cards get 6 cards free. In other words, you’re giving me a benefit, while giving me the incentive to order a little more than I might normally. Different incentives will appeal to different retailers. If you have a handful you trust, why not ask them now what they’d respond to at the show? (I would love to know some of the ideas that you’ve discussed in Tradeshow Bootcamp!)

5. I would love to hear if you have further thoughts on how booths are laid out and what you, as a buyer, find helpful when you have a million booths to see and what makes shopping a breeze!

Well, since you asked, I do have a few:

  • I would really encourage sellers to display their cards without sleeves this year. I know you run the risk of getting them damaged, but it just looks so much better.
  • Please make your booth numbers easy to read. Consider a nice, bold font that can been seen from at least several booths away.
  • Showcase your work. To me, this means framing your prints and showing your accessories in use. Your booth is a mini-shop, merchandise it!

National Stationery Show 2014: Gingiber via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Gingiber’s pillows are stuffed and cozy and her prints are framed so you can picture them on your walls.

National Stationery Show 2014: Blackbird Letterpress via Oh So Beautiful Paper

I think we can all agree, it’s helpful to see the Blackbird Letterpress 3D cut + fold vehicles when they’re actually put together.

  • Find a place for calm within your booth: Maybe it’s one wall with just your name or a large counter with nothing on it. In a day, I see thousands of cards, prints and accessories. My eyes are exhausted. Smart blank spaces will stand out more than anything. Your deep blue wall from the Stationery Show last year is a great example of this:

National Stationery Show 2014: Parrott Design Studio via Oh So Beautiful Paper

  • Finally, do that thing you’re excited about and a little afraid of doing. You know your line and your aesthetic better than anyone else. When in doubt, when you’re sleep deprived and questioning everything, ask yourself: what you I best? What do I love doing? Then trust it. Add it in to your booth, or pump up an element that seems to be working. You’ll love it, and you’ll be memorable because of it.

All images swiped from Nole’s prior National Stationery Show recaps. They’re great, I’d totally suggest perusing them now. See you in a few weeks!

xo Emily

Etsy Wholesale + NSS!

The 2015 National Stationery Show is officially just two months away, and I couldn’t be more excited! The week of the National Stationery Show is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year. The stationery industry is such a wonderful and supportive community, I look forward to seeing everyone all year long – and to meeting new exhibitors!

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Sea & Lake

Last year, the National Stationery Show introduced a section for new and emerging designers called #fresh. Etsy Wholesale supported more than 60 Etsy Wholesale designers at the 2014 National Stationery Show – including many of the exhibitors in the #fresh section – with a robust marketing program. I’m so excited to help spread the word that Etsy Wholesale is building on last year’s momentum with a dedicated Etsy Wholesale section within #fresh at this year’s National Stationery Show in May! This new section will showcase a selection of Etsy Wholesale designers in the stationery, gift, and lifestyle categories.

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The Flair Exchange

Etsy Wholesale is currently looking for a few more Etsy sellers who want their own booth within the Etsy Wholesale section of #fresh. Each exhibitor will have their own booth within a consolidated, Etsy Wholesale-branded area that will include an Etsy Wholesale information booth with a buyer application area – and a showcase wall at the front of the section with products curated by me!

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Meeschmosh

This is such a wonderful opportunity for any Etsy Wholesale sellers looking to make their products available to a wider wholesale audience! You’ll be in an area with great foot traffic and in such fantastic company with other Etsy Wholesale designers. But you only have a couple more weeks to sign up – so email Etsy Wholesale by March 27 to lock in your booth!

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Liddabits

And if you’re an Etsy Wholesale designer already exhibiting at the show – don’t worry! Etsy Wholesale will also continue to support Etsy Wholesale designers exhibiting across the show floor with marketing to tie everything together. Just email wholesalesupport@etsy.com to let them know that you’d like to be part of the marketing program along with your booth number!

I hope to see you at the National Stationery Show in May!

Hello Brick + Mortar: NSS Mailers

It’s March, two months until the National Stationery Show. You’re in the thick of it and we don’t want to add anything to your list. On the contrary, this post is about breaking down the concept of NSS mailers so that you can pick the one that’s right for you, get it out the door, and get back to building your booth! And since we both receive a lot of mailers we thought we’d team up and tackle this subject together! Emily & Nole

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Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Some of you are asking if you even need to do a mailer? To this we could answer no (but we mean yes). No, you don’t need to. But yes, you should. Your business is paper and this is the National Stationery Show – a paper mailer is the best way to make a good impression with the retailers and press who will visit your booth. But what type of mailer? In other words, how much time and money should you invest?

First things first, let’s get to the heart of a trade show mailer. Mailers serve several interrelated purposes: 1) let retailers and press know that you’ll be exhibiting at a trade show; 2) tell them where to find you at said show; and 3) get everyone excited about the products you plan to bring to the show. If you’re a first time exhibitor your mailer may also serve as an introduction – no pressure! – but otherwise these are the essential goals. To accomplish these objectives your mailer must contain the following:

– Your company name (and social media handles)

– Your booth number

– Some sort of hint as to what we can expect from you at the show

And that’s really it! Everything else is totally optional. When it comes to mailer formats, there are a ton of possibilities (we’ll get into that a bit more below), but above all else your mailer should be a representation of your brand in a format that works for your brand. Be funny if your line is funny, pretty if your style is pretty, and make it letterpress if the rest of your line is letterpress (or if you’re introducing letterpress to an existing line). Creative and over the top can be a lot of fun – but only if it’s a good fit for your brand AND you have the time, resources, and energy to put together a quality mailer.

We went through some of our favorite mailers from last year’s show to pull a few examples of each type of mailer for you!

Simple Mailer or Postcard

  • When to do it: You don’t have much time and you’re already feeling overwhelmed by your massive NSS to do list, but have a stellar card that can be a print or a postcard or, you know, a card.
  • Pros: It doesn’t have to take too much time or money but can still be beautiful. It’s a good format to offer a show special or repurpose a botched batch of cards into postcards. It’s also often the perfect format for funny card lines!
  • Cons: It may get lost in the shuffle, if you’re mailing it as a postcard, be ready for it to be smudged/bent.

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Iron Curtain Press

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The Paper Cub

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Sue Jean Ko

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Think + Ink Studio

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Katharine Watson

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Fig.2 Design

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Paper Lovely

Emily’s notes: As a general rule, I love this option. It’s simple, it reminds me of you and they’re easy for me to keep in my NSS file. They’re not going to knock my socks off, but it’s like getting a lovely note from a friend. Think & Ink did a great job of incorporating a show special. I also loved the combo-envelope on a card from Paper Lovely (and a few others!), it incorporates the fun of envelope opening in a playful way. Sue Jean Ko’s was a numbered edition screen print, a nice touch.

Nole’s notes: I also appreciate a simple mailer – and sometimes they actually do stand out when you’re flooded with lots of non-traditional mailers! – but if you go this route, do something to personalize your mailer and/or make your mailer unique. Include a quick hand written note (always a good idea). Make your envelopes really pretty with hand lettered addresses or beautiful stamps. Just something, anything, that will help make a connection with the person receiving the mailer.

This is What We Do Best

  • When to do it: You know who you are. You want to have some fun and show off some skills or special techniques. You have some time to experiment.
  • Pros: This is the type of mailer that really shows off what you do best – from laser cutting to block printing to split fountain printing. It extends your brand. You may really really enjoy it when it’s done.
  • Cons: This is likely to be a labor of love. You’re probably going to devote a fair amount of time to it and it may end up more in the “simple mailer/postcard” category in our eyes.

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Anemone Letterpress

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Ink Meets Paper (photo via their Instagram)

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The Pink Orange

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Smock + Bella Figura

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Alexis Mattox Design (image via her Instagram)

Emily’s notes: I loved opening the mailers from Anemone Letterpress and Farewell Paperie. They weren’t over the top, but both were such true examples of who they were. Also, I’ve often seen these done as an experiment, but the reception is so warm, they become a staple card or print.

Nole’s notes: These are often my favorite mailers! They’re usually beautiful without going over the top, and they’re a great way to demonstrate a level of craftsmanship, like the rainbow roll mailer from Anemone Letterpress, the laser cut gorgeousness from Alexis Mattox Design, or the digital/foil combination from Smock.

The Modified Look Book

  • When to do it: You said you were going to keep it simple this year, but it turned out you had a lot to say. Or maybe you had some nice photos taken and why not turn it in to something a bit more than a postcard…
  • Pros: It can tell a story about your line. You can include a heck of a lot of information.
  • Cons: These can get really busy and overwhelming really fast. Make sure the mailer tells a story or it may end up in the discard pile.

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Emily McDowell

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Belle & Union

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Constellation & Co.

Emily’s notes: I didn’t love folding and unfolding these, but I did like following the stories once they were folded out. I also liked Constellation & Co.’s styled photo: it situated me with their line and the longer envelope stood out.

Noles’s notes: This isn’t a format that works for everyone, but I loved all three of these mailers – and (unlike Emily) I enjoyed the fold out format! Emily McDowell’s was funny and a joy to read (and included a great teaser for those tote bags), Belle & Union’s told a story and was true to her brand, and the newsprint format from Constellation & Co. was really unique.

Functional Item or Samples

  • When to do it: When you have a great idea, a line that offers items other than paper, or you want your NSS mailer to double as an introduction packet.
  • Pros: If it’s good, a retailer will use it and remember you throughout the year. If it’s really good, you could end up with a brand new product for your line!
  • Cons: It may be pricy and time consuming to construct and it might just be a throwaway (ak!).

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Near Modern Disaster (there were samples in here, but as you can see – I totally used them! –nole)

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Fancy Seeing You Here

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Lilikoi Design & Letterpress

Emily’s notes: I get such a kick out of Near Modern Disaster because she picked my favorite and least favorite cards from her line – bottom line, it made me visit and tell her this, which made me love her because she rolled with the fact that I told her I threw the “hang in here” card away because I couldn’t look at it. I kept Fancy Seeing You Here’s cozy for months even though I have never actually used a beer cozy in my life. I ended up giving it away, but it is one of the most memorable items I received. Lilikoi’s tea towel was one of my favorite items from the show. I went to their booth specifically to ask if they sold them wholesale and placed an order shortly after.

Nole’s notes: Sending samples is a great idea, particularly for first time exhibitors, but just make sure they’re usable samples! Don’t use adhesive that will destroy the back of the card. Include envelopes for mailing the cards. Functional items other than card samples can be more tricky. If you have a fantastic idea and can execute it properly then you should totally do it. The beer cozy from Fancy Seeing You Here was super memorable and one of my favorites from last year’s mailers. The calligraphy tea towel from Lilikoi Design & Letterpress was absolutely stunning. But if a functional item isn’t special, or looks really cheap, it can make a bad impression with the recipient. In that case it’s better to focus your resources elsewhere.

Out of the Box Creativity

  • When to do it: It’s your first year and you have everything else under control. Or it’s not your first year, but you’re ready to have some fun. You want to introduce a new product. You want to be remembered.
  • Pros: This is the hight of attention getting. It gets you buzz before the show when begins – especially in the world of Instagram! It ensures that you stick in your retailers minds as other mailers come and go. It makes you a destination at the show.
  • Cons: It can be incredibly pricy and time consuming. Also, make sure you choose the appropriate container, as these are often the items that arrive torn/damaged.

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Ladyfingers Letterpress

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E. Frances Paper

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Farewell Paperie

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Brainstorm Print & Design

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Moglea (image via her Instagram)

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Power & Light Press

Emily’s notes: What do I like about these? Oh, I don’t know, probably everything. I love when lines take the time to really play and shine. It’s like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Grammy’s: you’re clearly having fun and I’m eating it up. Ladyfingers’ honeycomb card, E. Frances’ perpetual adorable personalization, Brainstorm’s interactive die-cut briefcase, Power & Light’s peep show. I’m on the floor. This reminds me, you should all include your social media handles on these mailers. If I love someone, I post it on Instagram immediately and having your @ there makes it effortless.

Nole’s notes: These were all fabulous mailers, and they represented each brand in a unique and special way. Brainstorm’s mailer highlighted their illustration skills, Power & Light’s hinted at her raunchy sense of humor, and the Ladyfingers Letterpress mailer introduced their new deluxe line. If you have a fantastic (and original) idea for an NSS mailer, it’s a great way to be remembered!

Mailers are really the most fun time of year (for those of us receiving them). There were so many good ones that we didn’t share here, but we hope this post has your gears turning. So go, spend a day brainstorming, spend a week(end) making and mailing. Use that idea you’re not sure of yet, or find a way to repurpose a mistake. Aim to send them out a month before the show, but don’t worry if you’re just getting them in the mail two weeks before (we receive them right up until the show). Consider scheduling a simple reminder email for retailers in the week leading up to the show if you have time, because there are surprisingly few emails from you coming in as we sit waiting for the trains/planes/automobiles. Use the #nss2015 hashtag on Instagram to share your progress (+ find us to share: Emily and Nole). We can’t wait to see this year’s crop!

Photo Credits: Except where noted, all photos by Nole Garey and Emily Blistein for Oh So Beautiful Paper

NYNOW Winter 2015, Part 8: Meri Meri

I may have let out an audible gasp and a few excited squeaks while walking around the Meri Meri booth at NYNOW. An entire booth full of the most amazing party supplies you’ve ever seen – from donut plates and gift tags to seriously cool letter banners to confetti rockets and cupcake kits. Too much to squeeze into a highlight post, so I’m sharing some of my favorites from the Meri Meri booth here!

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So cute, right?! That’s a wrap on the Winter 2015 NYNOW market – but if you missed any of the previous posts you can find them right here!