The National Stationery Show (NSS) – months of preparation, 2 days of set-up, 4 days of selling, and now the real work begins. It was certainly a marathon, not a sprint. Thankfully, because of our training, we are very happy with how we finished.
As we shared earlier, exhibiting at The National Stationery Show has been a dream of mine since I first walked the show back in 2007 – even before we established Love Jac as a company. Accomplishing this goal was pretty incredible. Since we have completed many steps along the way as a company, we used this experience as a mile marker. It was a chance to evaluate and focus.
INCREASING OUR EXPOSURE
Increasing our exposure from our borough of Brooklyn to the entire country has brought us to a new level. This was by far the greatest benefit to being a part of NSS. Talking with companies from not only other states, but other countries as well, could only have happened by taking the leap and investing in this trade show. The experience wasn’t unlike what takes place at The Brooklyn Flea. Sharing the story behind our cards to friendly people came naturally. The main difference from a local market was that instead of the extremely interesting person chatting with us working for a Manhattan based magazine, we’d discover they worked for Nordstrom’s or Newbury Comics.
TIGHTENING UP OUR LACES
As a small company, taking the next leap financially is always a little scary. Will it work? Is it worth what we are pouring into it? Like anything in life, we feel it’s important to take those chances and push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Instead of getting completely overwhelmed, we used this pressure as a reason to streamline and grow. Thanks to the numerous webinars the wonderful people at Signature Mix conducted, we were able to come to the show prepared and ready to take and fill orders.
I LOVE WHAT I’M DOING.
The biggest lesson exhibiting at NSS taught me personally was that I am so happy doing what I am doing. I love having a greeting card company. I love being a mom. I absolutely love being a mom that runs a greeting card company. For the most part my days are filled with play dates and new adventures with my 3 year old daughter & 9-month-old son. I have to squeeze in card creating, filling orders, and blogging. Whether it’s during nap times or staying up extremely late at night, I do it because I love it. I’d rather be building this company than sleeping. Hearing the stories from people who have mailed our cards to friends or others who have received our cards is what fuels me. It’s the reason I started Love Jac. Running this company helps me be a better friend. It pushes me to be a better mom. It allows me to fully appreciate the time I have with my kids and my husband and gives me another goal to work towards. Hand delivering cards with Conroy strapped to me, watching Georgia check the post office box all by herself, and hearing her say “Hey mom, when are we going to sell your cards again?” are just some of the reasons I love doing this. It makes me so happy that everyone at our local print shop knows my kids by name. I love that being a mom has opened new doors for me that otherwise wouldn’t have happened – such as teaching a toddler art class at a local children’s shop. It’s exciting to see where this company and these kids will take me next.
Georgia & I celebrating our first booth trial run.
We showed off the vintage typewriter we use to make our cards. Everyone really liked seeing it.
This telephone table belonged to my husband's Grannie. It was very comforting to have it at the show with us.
MEETING OTHERS IN OUR FIELD
This was not an epiphany, but greeting card people are our people!! It’s not like we thought they would be mean, but we were pleasantly surprised by all the friendly people we met also exhibiting at the show. We were accepted into the #fresh section, which was composed of new companies with different and creative products. This put us in aisle 1300 and blessed us with wonderful neighbors. (Although from the brief times I was able to venture out a little further - it’s pretty safe to conclude everyone at the show was nice. I mean, mean people don’t spend their time making greeting cards.)
Boundless Brooklyn - David & Terrance were incredible neighbors. Their build-your-own-watertower-kits pretty much sum up Brooklyn - great design & eco-friendly!!
Gumball Poodle - Erica makes these amazing socks that match her personality exactly!! It was really fun spending 4 days across the aisle from her! Oh, and it has to be mentioned...Beyonce wore Erica's Gangsta Crew Socks in her Pretty Hurts Video.
Sarita Mann Design Studios - Sarita is from Vancouver & brought her friend and owner of We Are Local, Daniela Lee, along with her for this trip to New York City. Her kickstarter video is a must watch and her illustrations are beautiful.
Bowsprite - Christina Sun makes beautifully drawn illustrations of boats and ships!! If nautical is your thing, she's your girl. She is a New Yorker and her goods arrived via bicycle!! Love that!!
Park Soap - Sherri Jackson makes soap by hand in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I can easily say she had the best smelling booth!! Plus, she assembled those beautiful tables on her own!! We hope she continues to use them in her studio - they are gorgeous.
The Nic Studio - Nicole Block was introduced to us through Rebecca Fitting, the owner of Greenlight Bookstore - where both of our cards are sold. Her illustrated cards are hilarious and sweet at the same time. She recently introduced temporary tiles to her line. This is genius and if you want to do a little home-reno on a budget - this is your must have item!!
Queenie's Cards - We met Queenie through Instagram before the show even began. Talk about fun, make you smile cards. Her style is cute and clever.
Trinky Things - Keisha DePaz has created a great product. It's a charm that is accompanied by a greeting card. The back of the box has fill-ins, which allow you to customize your note!
Home Grown Books - Kyla Ryman & Jessica Brown are dedicated to writing books for children that are as rich as a child's imagination. We bought two sets of these books & Georgia absolutely loves them.
K Batty Design & Stationery - Kerry & I met while she was selling her handmade cards at The Dekalb Market. Since then we often meet for coffee to talk business strategy and all things paper!! Her letterpressed cards are bold & bright.
Warren Tales - We met Lindsey Warriner at one of the show's mixers. During the show, there isn't much time to walk the aisles and it turned out she was only a couple booths away from us. Her cards are very punny and truly capture her sense of humor. We discovered we both went to Emerson College and it was her paper airplane that was traveling through our aisle earlier that day.
THE POWER OF INSTAGRAM
If you follow us on Instagram, you know this is our favorite app. It’s inspiring and allows us to take a moment and appreciate life. We’ve discovered many interesting people we wouldn’t have ever met if it wasn’t for Instagram. The incredible part is that we recognized more than a handful of them as they came into our booth. It was a little surreal because we know the parts of their lives that they share with the world, but hadn’t actually met them face-to-face. It was a little like meeting a celebrity. Happily, meeting them only made us love them even more!!
Emily Blistein owns an adorable stationery store in Vermont called Clementine and also blogs for Oh, So Beautiful Paper. Her posts were incredibly helpful and inspiring in the weeks leading up to NSS.
A HUGE THANK YOU.
As you might guess, doing a trade show isn’t something you can wing. It’s also something you can’t do without a team behind you. I am very fortunate that “our team” is made up of family and friends who are tremendous supporters of Love Jac as a company. I’d like to quickly thank…
Tom Conroy- The endless planner who supervised the booth construction strategy and offered up his garage space in New Jersey so we could do, not just one but two, mock set-ups. It is his attention to detail that allowed us to get our whole booth into the Javits Center and up in what felt like no time!
Chad Carter – This man is my best friend and Love Jac would not exist without his support and belief. It was incredibly fun to spend the whole day with him, just like we used to when we first fell in love.
Cathy Conroy – No one will love your babies like your own mom. Leaving my kids might have been the hardest part. I know it was only 6 days and so many women do it every day, but it ain’t easy. Knowing my mom was trekking those little people all over the city everywhere they had to be, feeding them, loving them, and making them smile allowed me to concentrate on the business and put everything into the show.
Tommy Conroy – I might be one of the only people who still calls him “Tommy”, but that is always what he will be to me – the brother who is consistently there and truly understands me like no one else. He might be my little brother, but he’s not so little anymore and was a huge help with load-in, set-up, and, of course, being the best uncle there is while I was working.
Katrina Delark – Hands down, her best quality is her loyalty and that I’ve been thankful for since the second grade. Having Katrina take two days out of her normal schedule to spend them with us standing for hours is not something that is overlooked.
photo note: ok, we weren't karaoke-ing in our booth, but we were silly and didn't take a picture together, so here's two of my favorites - LOVE THIS GIRL!!!
Jen Jones – Possibly our biggest cheerleader since day one and the woman who always sees the bigger picture. Having one of the top PR women in New York City representing our booth was not a bad thing at all. This woman is good at her job, people, and it’s obvious to see why.
Our Customers - both those we have known for years and those we have just met. The strategy we took for our pre-show mailer was to have our customers personally deliver our show announcement post card to their favorite stationery store. Many of you reached out on Facebook or through our website and took the time out of your day to drop off cards at your local store. We know that it was a big deal and we thank you so much for believing in our card company and making that effort.
Last, but not least, at the root of all things, Love Jac is friendship and it’s always my friends who make my life so happy. So, thank you to everyone who checked in and cheered us along the way.
We’ve made many new connections because of NSS and we are excited to announce that Love Jac Cards will be available in more stores, two of which are Little Things Toy Store (Brooklyn, NY) & Faces on Main Street (Northampton, MA). We look forward to seeing what else comes out of this experience and we can’t wait to do it again next year.