Im finally back from my long trip to the USA and just now getting over jet lag. If I could only sleep past 5am that would be fantastic! Today I thought I would share with you my experience of having a booth at Houston, my learnings/take aways, and some of the wonderful new fabrics and tools that I got to see while I was there. For those of you who aren't quite sure what Quilt Market is: Its an International Trade show for the sewing and craft industry. This part of the event is only open to business owners and is specifically for the buyer, not the end consumer. So shop owners, distributors, and bloggers are the types of people walking around.
In the Beginning...
So before this whole "wild ride" begins it takes months and months of planning a preparation. New designs to be made, samples to be sewn, booth to design, and not to mention getting products printed and packaged. This is the first year I have done HQM completely on my own. Its a very large financial investment, especially because I am travelling all the way from Australia. However, I'm from Texas and my family lives only four hours away which makes the entire process much more manageable. I started working on my plan about 5 months prior to October and slowly worked through my to-do list. This allowed me to set manageable time frames and ensure that there wasn't a mad panic a week before I left. (which there still was). In regards to applying and the paperwork, please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Im always happy to help if this is something you are interested in doing for your business.
Planning the booth:
This year I decided to create a neutral canvas and let the clothes speak for themselves. I collaborated with Crystal Manning of Crystal Manning Art who is an incredibly talented surface pattern designer. She designed this range exclusively for me to use in the booth and then we had all the fabrics printed through spoonflower. I did this for three reasons. 1. This gave Crystal the opportunity to showcase her talent and approach all the big fabric companies with her ranges. 2. It allowed me to have something no one had ever seen. 3. It kept things cohesive and consistent throughout the booth. To plan the overall look I searched through pinterest and current home magazines to see what was on trend. I went with a warehouse/scandi sort of a look that included wood floors (printed foam from Walmart.com) White brick wall back drop (printed in china from eBay.com), raw wood furniture (built by my granddaddy) and faux animal rug (Kmart).
Pins that were handed out at Quilt Market. What type of Sewist are you? (designed by Crystal)
Setting Up and the Actual Event:
Set up was an absolute breeze! Careful planning and prep led to a successful set up. Any little things I missed like batteries, picture frames or a clip board, were easily purchased at Ikea or Target. Once the show started it was absolutely full on... ALL DAY LONG. 9am-6pm!!! I met so many incredible people and even had people come up to me wearing Bondi Tops, Noosa Shifts, and a Sweet Summertime Dress! I couldn't believe it. There were actually people out there, purchasing my patterns, and loving something that I created. Best feeling EVER!
I had back ups for my back ups. Insurance for my travel and my merchandise. Back up stick with patterns just in case. I wrote list upon list and checked them twice. But like with any huge planning event, something most likely will go wrong. So when my payment system stopped working, I thought quickly and came up with another solution. Not my first choice, but still achievable. I was able to not let it frazzle me, because I was mentally prepared to handle what was thrown my way.
Working with different people enabled me to accomplish so much more than if I was working by myself. I made some wonderful new friends, and was able to create win/win situations. I had the idea for the fabric about 5 month prior to Houston. I had Crystal in mind and thought, the worst she can do is say no. We had never met one another, and were both taking a huge chance that it would all work out. It did,
Me and Crystal on set up day at Houston Quilt Market
3. Set Goals
Have in your head what you would like to gain from the experience, a figure you would be happy to make, and what deals you would like to make. My goals were to pick up a new distributor, make back what I spent, and get picked up by Craftsy or Creative Bug. I found that having in my mind what I wanted to achieve allowed me to gauge my success, and pushed me to reach those goals.
4. Be In It To Win It
And lastly, you have to be there! As a designer, I believe it speaks VOLUMES to potential buyers that you spent the time and money to invest in coming to market. You also get to meet the movers and shakers of this industry in real life. I love talking to shop owners and giving them tools and advice to better sell my product. Once they know me as a person, I'm no longer just a piece of paper, I'm a girl with a passion to teach the world to sew. Growing a business involves lots of risks and a strong belief in yourself and what your doing. I know thats something a lot of us really struggle with as SOLOpreneurs, but its what propels us forward and pushes us to achieve.
Collaborating with one of the coolest chicks ever, Heather, from Girl Charlee