It's Showtime Season Again August 29 2015, 0 Comments

Back in the air, heading out to New York for the summer gift show NY Now, at the Jacob Javits Center, for my work with Keena and 12 Small Things. I just returned from a lovely week in Lake Tahoe with my family, after having been in Las Vegas for the home and gift show at the World Market, which followed the San Francisco Gift Show at the Moscone Center. And during the San Francisco gift show where I help set up and sell for our Keena booth, I also double booked myself to show 12 Small Things at the De Young Museum's Fair Trade Bazaar. I felt a little like Hermione in Harry Potter when she time travels in order to take two classes that are scheduled at the same time.

  

I was very please to be asked by the De Young Museum store to be a part of their summer bazaar, along with a dozen other artisan groups, including my friends Julie and Ibrahima from Petel Design textiles, and Meredith from Soko jewelry, both of whom are working with artisans in Africa. There were also artisans from Ukraine, selling hand-painted wooded ornaments, and groups from India selling beautiful scarves and shawls. I brought along my summer collection, including jute bags from Dharma Door in Bangladesh, shawls from Indigo Handloom in India and jewelry from Sidai Designs in Tanzania. 

On the opening day of the sale I was thrilled to have so many new customers interested in my products and company. I captured a lot of new names for my emails and sold almost all of the products I'd brought. I was so happy to meet Denise Bradley-Tyson, the founder of Inspired Luxe, who was written up in the San Francisco Chronicle last month for her website of stylish, handmade fair trade products. The next day I had to work at our Keena booth for the San Francisco gift show, and had my older daughter Johanna work the De Young show for me. Johanna did a great job of selling all but a few items. When I came to pick her up that night, the vendor from India across the aisle from her, told me what a beautiful daughter I had, and that she didn't sit down the whole day!

The rest of the San Francisco show was thankfully uneventful, once I only had to be in one place at a time. Once the show slowed down a bit I also had a chance to visit some of the fair trade artisans showing in the international section of the show. There were a few groups from Africa whose products I really l liked, including colorful woven straw bags with leather handles which I bought to sell as part of my fall collection for 12 Small Things

  

Once the San Francisco show was over and torn down into crates for hibernation until January, I packed my overnight bag and flew to Las Vegas to work a couple days at our Keena showroom there. Why anyone would want to go to Las Vegas in the summer is beyond me, but there I was, arriving in 105 degree heat at 10:00 in the morning, along with hundreds of buyers ready for a day of wholesale shopping. The Las Vegas Market is housed in three large high rise and thankfully, air conditioned buildings, and has done a good job marketing the biannual event, as more and more people are attending each season. Some west coast retailers have stopped having to go to New York, as almost all the wholesalers they want to buy from are now also at the Las Vegas show.

  
The Las Vegas Market has also added an exhibit space in what look like metal air craft carriers called the Pavillions, for groups who want to sell during the show, but aren't ready or able to commit to a permanent showroom in the towers. My fellow Keena rep Katie Gartner who also owns the store Whistle in San Francisco, met me early the next day at the Pavilions so we could check out the exhibitors before working at our showroom. Big fans blowing water mist helped cool down the walkway as we approached the building, which had the air conditioning blasting.The exhibitors were a mix of gadget, gift and home collections, some displayed very professionally and others who were happy just to set up a few tables with their products.
Katie saw one of her vendors there, Ramesh Shah, who she used to work with while she was a buyer for The Gardner in Berkeley. I found my friend Silvia from Guatemala in her booth for Matrix selling beautiful textiles and pillows made in partnership with the Zero Hunger Project. She looked great, as did her booth, and had sales help from another Laurie who I'd met before at Aid to Artisans. They both had very positive feedback from the show and I was thrilled to learn their booth won for the best product in Handmade section of the Pavilion. Well deserved indeed! 
 
Now, well-rested from a week swimming and hiking in the Sierras, I'm off to take a bite of the Big Apple and see what NY Now holds in store. I'm excited to see all the vendors I work with, and buy some new product for 12 Small Things Fall 2015 collection. I'm  going to spend extra days in New York after the gift show, to collaborate with my fellow colleague Annie Waterman on the artisan television series pitch we've been working on. Annie also works with my friends Karen Gibbs and Colvin English from By Hand Consulting, who produce the Artisan Resource exhibit at NY Now. Not only does Annie have great contacts and ideas for the series, she also has family who work in the film business, who have all been very generous sharing their knowledge and suggestions with us. I made need to research more about time traveling, or at least rely on a good support network. The seatbelt sign is on, New York City is approaching and it's showtime again!