The dog and pony show
We all do it, it's part of the sales game, and some of us are better at it than others, but it comes with the territory. At the beginning of October I participated in the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center's 30th Anniversary gala at the City View on top of the Metreon. As an alumni of the Ren Center where wrote my business plan for 12 Small Things, I accepted the invitation to to sell my goods along with other recent graduates. My favorite fellow vendor I met during the event was Prince who started a T-shirt company selling "Laire" merchandise. It was so close to my name but for the "u", I bought a shirt to help the cause.
October is also my month for trying to visit all 40 northern California Whole Foods stores that I sell products to, from Keena Company along with products from the fair trade artisans I represent. It is quite a challenge to schedule appointments with more than 50 Whole Body store buyers in a logical, drivable schedule, but I do my best. And I always marvel at what an incredible job the stores do, providing quality food, products and services to their communities. Every store I visited was packed with a diverse range of customers, coming together in a communal hub of hungry, curious, consumer activity.
And as if that wasn't enough to keep me busy, I also attended our annual Keena summit, hosted by Catharine at her famous Jefferson Airplane mansion on Fulton Street. We had three solid days of back to back presentations of more than a dozen of the 40 plus companies we represent. One of my favorite presentations was given by our design director Robyn Kessel, who presented the new collection by the Indian textile designer Neeru Kumar. I also really enjoyed hearing about all the new plans for Biobu by Ekobo. Founder Bruno Louis worked in Paris marketing for fashion brands before starting his own product lines including Biobu, their colorful tableware made from recycled bamboo scraps.
Jane Gosden was equally charming introducing new styles and colors for Elk clothing and accessories from Australia. Our local gals from Petit Collage in the Mission, founder Lorena Siminovich and sales manager Chris Boral, gave a great presentation of their new toys and games for Spring 2015.
Fast forward to November and the start of the retail holiday gift shows with the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason. My husband Robert and I rode our bikes down to the Marina on a beautiful, crisp fall Sunday afternoon. The pavilion was packed with hundreds of potential customers looking for the perfect gift or at least some new ideas from the creative young vendors displaying their wares.
We only had time to visit friends Laura Le Walsh from Oxgut who showed us her fabulous new firehose chairs, Julia and Ibrahima of Petel Design with their gorgeous hand loomed textiles and fellow Keena sales gal Katie Gaertner with her wonderful artisan products from her store Whistle. Katie had a great weekend as hopefully did our other friends, working the show circuit for a dollar and a dream. Not a bad way to make a living, if you can make it work, or at least have fun trying!