NSS 2014: Tradeshow Bootcamp (+ New Website!)

Greetings from the train – I’m officially on my way to New York City!

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If you’re a longtime reader or a stationer, chances are you’ve already heard me sing the praises of Tradeshow Bootcamp as an invaluable resource for anyone thinking about exhibiting at a major trade show. I’ve had the honor of participating as a Tradeshow Bootcamp speaker in both the webinars and Paper Camp since 2011 – I love seeing the wonderful things that TSBC alums go on to accomplish at shows like NSS and NYNOW!

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This year, Katie will have her very own Tradeshow Bootcamp booth at the National Stationery Show (1850!), where she’ll have interactive kiosks where visitors can see photos, view case studies, and learn more about upcoming TSBC programs. There are also more than SEVENTY alums and speakers exhibiting at NSS this year (!!), so Katie put together a helpful roster of everyone exhibiting at the show (also available here as a PDF).

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Katie just launched a brand new Tradeshow Bootcamp website full of information about upcoming webinars and Paper Camp sessions – along with a brand new blog called the TSBC Collective! The new website has a ton of great resources for small stationery businesses including photo galleries, vendor recommendations, case studies of sample booths, and a fun video about Paper Camp created by Joel Kvernmo of Iron Curtain Press. The summer webinar series kicks off right after the National Stationery Show and includes everything from Accounting 101 to product photography and styling tips. The TSBC Collective will be an ongoing resource for stationery and gift companies, highlighting all sorts of topics such as business resources, advice from past speakers, profiles of the 350+ alumni, vendor recommendations, and more.

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Congrats Katie!

NSS 2014 Sneak Peek: Moglea + Sugarcube Press

Happy Friday everyone! I have two quick NSS sneak peeks to share with you today, and a couple more to share over the weekend! First up for today, the uber-talented Meg of Moglea. Meg’s line features her unique hand lettering along with hand drawn illustrations and patterns, from letterpress greeting cards to edge painted notepads and dip dye gift tags to gift wrap. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for this year!

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Moglea

Next up, the ever-sweet ladies of Sugarcube Press with tons of fabulous letterpress goodies! This year’s collection includes a letterpress art print clipboard calendar, complete with a tear-off to do list!, and new DIY rubber stamp kits. The ladies also have a bit of a mixology theme this year, with a monthly letterpress cocktail coaster calendar featuring a different hand-illustrated drink and lettering with the month on back, and a DIY mixology gift box set with twelve illustrated drink coasters and a bar book of hand crafted cocktails. So fun!

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Sugarcube Press

Thanks ladies!

NSS 2014 Sneak Peek: Wild Ink Press

Our next National Stationery Show sneak peek comes to us from Rebekah of Wild Ink Press! I’m always excited to see what Rebekah has up her sleeve for the show, from her impeccable booth design to beautiful letterpress stationery. This year, the Wild Ink Press booth (2137) will include two of my favorite things: lots of bright color and shiny metallic foil. I can’t wait!

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Thanks Rebekah!

Photo Credits: Wild Ink Press

NSS 2014 Sneak Peek: Ferme a Papier

Designer Cat Seto is a stationery veteran, and last year she debuted a brand new company called Ferme à Papier inspired by a trip to Paris and the French emphasis on farm-to-table food. Ferme à Papier (Booth 1936) will be back at this year’s National Stationery Show with a new collection inspired by a sense of wanderlust  and products with a Tahitian Parisian vibe! The collection includes new greeting card designs, poster style gift wrap, desk calendar, and note pads!

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Thanks Cat!

Photo Credits: Ferme à Papier

Hello Brick & Mortar: How a Retailer Preps For NSS

The 2014 National Stationery Show is a few days away. If you’re exhibiting at the show, your crates are on their way and so are you (hooray!). Last week, we talked about how to catch a retailer’s eye. This week I thought I’d give you a little peek into how I prep for NSS. So far it involves a lot of ‘getting excited’ and very little ‘buying of train tickets.’ – Emily of Clementine

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Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Step 1: Delight in your mailers. The weeks leading up to NSS are similar to what I imagine it would feel like to be a girl in a Louisa May Alcott novel with her dance card filled up. Which is to say: very attended to and very good. (Thank you!)

How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful PaperHow a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper

The mailers this year have been exceptional; color, creativity and the sweetest personal notes!  After the show, mail can be a little bit bleak. (In other words, not a terrible time to follow up with a little note to keep you in our hearts/minds.)

Step 2: Map it out. I mean this literally. I’m a very visual person and find it helpful to create an actual map of my route. This year I had help from my wonderful intern who put the mailers in order by booth number. We then talked through each vendor, creating categories of: current vendor, prospective vendors, vendors I definitely want to make an order with, and people I want to make sure to say hello to (nb: this has a lot to do with personal notes…). After that, I create a veritable yellow brick road of mailers. This gives me a visual road map that I can rely on when the lights of the show start to blur.

How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Mapping it out on Instagram. Am I standing on a chair or floating? You decide.

This mapping helps me prep for how I will spend my 2-3 days at the show. I will plan to break my days down into two categories: First, I make orders with my existing lines that need re-stocking. Though I’m very excited to add new lines, my current vendors have my loyalty. Second, as I walk, I take notes on (and photos of) lines that I’ve had my eye on and new lines that catch my attention. I want to take in as much as possible and note why I’d be adding these lines – do they offer something new? A product or category I don’t currently sell? Or am I just plain smitten with them? This is often a big, big list. So I take this list back to the hotel. The biggest question I ask myself is: do I REALLY love it.  In the moment, in a booth, with a wonderful vendor it can be incredibly tempting to just make order after order. For this reason, I try to wait at least a day to mull over my options and make orders with new lines on my second or third day.

Step 3: Never Stop Looking. I’m constantly on the hunt for stationery. My walking list will continue to grow up until I step foot in the Javitz. I have vendors in the back of my mind who didn’t send mailers, mailers that didn’t catch my eye at first blush, and vendors who come out of nowhere at the last minute. To incorporate them into my larger walking list, I rely on:

  • Pinterest. I keep a Pinterest board for stationery throughout the year. I pin new lines as I fall for them and revisit the board a few times a year (most notably on the train on the way to the show.)
  • Instagram. Instagram is a daily hangout and in the weeks leading up to the show I frequently jump over to the #nss2014 and #stationeryshow hashtags* to see what you’re creating. I love discovering new lines and catching sneak peeks of your preparations. Also, I think it’s a great leveling-of-the-playing-fields for getting all stationery lines in front of retailers’ eyes. (*I know we discussed hashtags last time, and I’m with the camp who just feels that #nss has too many non-stationery related happenings.)
  • Blogs. I check in on Nole and Carina’s NSS sneak peeks and to scroll back through their prior year posts to see how lines have evolved. I also frequently find myself in new places from their blogs and then back on Pinterest pinning what I love. I love the Etsy blog for giving me background on vendors. And Emily McDowell had a great post this week for fellow vendors. I agree with everything she said. And, I would only add that even if your walls fall down, phenomenal cards on the floor are better then half-assed cards on a beautiful wall.
  • You! I rely on my current vendors to tip me off to new members of the stationery community. I also appreciate all of the pre-show emails that are coming in to remind me of you!

How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper

A snapshot of my Stationery Board on Pinterest. Everchanging.

Step 4: Construct a plan for orders. This is the part where I have to quit daydreaming and start doing the hard work. I should take a moment to say that I don’t run a stationery store. Clementine is a lifestyle and home decor store. That said, I have happily let stationery grow like ivy into every nook of the shop. I have grown my stationery lines from 2 to 30+ over three years and though I plan to expand, I can’t expand infinitely. (This year I plan to add 3 lines, maybe 5. Ok 8 max.) So I make my walking list and walk the show with these this refrain: Will my customers love it? Is it in my budget? Does it offer something new to Clementine? And, do I really, really love it? 

Step 5. Walk it. I love almost every aspect of vendor interaction at the show: Visits with lines who I’ve carried since the beginning, hellos with vendors I adore from afar, and rounding the corner to be totally struck with a new line that rocks my world. I love that some booths are stunning theater-like sets and others are minimalist and let the cards speak for themselves. I’m not looking for one thing, I’m just looking to be delighted in roughly 2000 different ways. And I’m pretty confident that will happen.

How a Retailer Preps for the National Stationery Show via Oh So Beautiful Paper

 A section of Clementine’s current stationery offerings. I’m so excited to see what it looks like a year from now!

See you at the show!

Photo Credits: Bottom image by Jessica Anderson Photography. All other images via my Instagram.