Tales from the Backroom: Trade Shows!

I get a fair amount of emails and messages from customers and social media followers asking all about the behind the scenes aspect of Place & Gather. I assume most people feel comfortable asking me questions because this is all so new to me. "How did you figure all of this out?", "How did you get started?", "Where do you find your products?" are questions I receive on a weekly basis. Last week I had a realization. Why don't I just share my experiences? I have decided to name this aspect of our blog "Tales from the Back Room". Here you will find all things business. I will give you a peek into our buying, organizational systems, the good, the bad and the ugly. As I am on this journey I would love to share it with those who might be interested in doing the same thing. I hope some of this motivates you, inspires you or leaves you glad you have a different full time job!

First up: Trade shows

Emily and I recently returned from two big trade shows. In mid-January we went to AmericasMart in Atlanta and the first week of February we went to NYNow in New York City. Besides buying product, we love going to spot trends and network. Meeting our vendors and makers face to face is essential for us. It is also awesome connecting with shop owners from all over the country. We were lucky enough to share dinner with one of our favorite Boston shops, Shake The Tree, when we were in Atlanta. She's been in business in Boston for over 25 years and is a fabulous mentor. We also met Aly Harris of Willa Heart for dinner another night. We carry her artwork in the shop. She's witty, super creative and now just a great friend. In New York we had the privilege of grabbing margaritas with Vivid Hue Home, Kirby & Company and The Blue Octagon. We had a fabulous time catching up and talking about our great finds at the market. All of our stores share a similar aesthetic so it's awesome to connect with likeminded ladies! (Also, these shops are #goals for us, so we left feeling beyond inspired, praying we can be like them one day and beyond grateful they would hang with us!)

Preparation

Each day the market opens at 9 so naturally Emily and I were there by 8, full of caffeine and holding checklists and maps. For both markets we made somewhat elaborate plans to maximize our time. We spent a few weeks before developing a strategy of who we wanted to go see, what we were there to purchase and how much we wanted to spend. We made final revisions to each plan on the plane/train ride to the market. Each market is full of floor after floor of products just waiting to be discovered. It is great for us to see what the vendors we already carry are creating for the upcoming seasons and to find new vendors we want to bring into the shop. 

Trends

Spotting trends and staying relevant is completely necessary. That being said, classic, preppy, chic is our main focus. We look for ways to add in small pops of new trends without completely making your space (or wardrobe) look like something you will not appreciate next year.  We like to do this in our small decorative accents and fun costume jewelry. Here are some things we noticed. 

Lavender

The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. Although we saw a fair amount of it, what we also noticed was a lot of lavender. The more toned down, softer color works more for our customer base. We are bringing in some fun costume jewelry in this shade. We love it because it mixes well with black, white, mint and leopard print. 

Taper Candles

Fabulous striped and patterned taper candles were popping up in the chicest of booths. We are so excited to say we bought many different styles. 

Hoop Earrings

Preppy, spunky and sometimes unexpected. Hoop earrings were all the rage. We are trilled to have found beaded hoops, tortoise hoops, bamboo hoops and so much more!

Basketweave 

This trend is Palm Beach meets Nantucket to the max. We found beautiful seagrass pitchers and tumblers in the timeless basketweave pattern. 

New Product Lines We Are Thrilled to Carry. 

Dana Gibson

Before I opened she was on my list. I really wanted to get to know my customers and their wants and needs before I ordered because everything she creates is perfect. That being said, in my small shop I can only fit a curated collection. We entrusted her to help us with the selection process.  Her large leopard tray in a neutral palate is simply incredible. We also brought in small trays that are perfect for city spaces. On top of that, we chose some amazing ginger jars, cachepots and a few pillows that are the ultimate pop of color. 

She is based in Virginia and also has a textile line for Stroheim. 

Louis Sherry

Wow, are these chocolates and their tins fabulous! It is hard to decide what is more lux-the beautiful patterned tins or the decadent chocolates. Dating back to 1881, these chocolates have been a fixture in the confectionary world. The tin concept was developed in 1919 for Steamship passengers. We will be carrying the two and 12 piece tins. The tie for my favorite tin rests between the Harrison Howard China Sea (in lavender would you know...) and Draper Pink. 

We loved learning that these were the corporate gift given out by Vanity Fair Magazine this year for Christmas and that Louis Sherry's original flagship store in New York City is now occupied by Hermes. 

Wow, this sounds like fun! Can I join next time?

So many people asked for the qualifications for getting into one of these markets. They are open to people who hold a Tax ID number, have a Resale License or an Interior Design certificate. Although this might sound unfortunate, most companies have a minimum order you have to place and a minimum on quantities of product. That means if you were able to go, the one thing you might want to buy might only come in a pack of 12 or 24.

We had an absolute blast at both shows! Thank goodness Emily can put up with me 24 hours a day for a few days at a time. We plan on heading down to New York a few more times this year to smaller markets and accessories shows. We will return to Atlanta next January. 

Place & Gather, celebrate accordingly!

Amanda