I really love this time of year; summer is just beginning to blossom, the grasses on the hillsides still have that lush green hue and the National Stationery Show is behind us for the year. As much as I love NYC and the hustle of pre-show prep, one can’t maintain that level of activity forever. And we sure bit off a big chunk of pre-NSS craziness, from building our own booth and shipping it from Montana to New York, to outsourcing new product offerings while bulking up our current line of paper goods – we were truly swamped!
We started dreaming up the design for our booth in January and by February had ordered the metal frame and wood we planned to use for the walls. It took some doing, but we soon got the walls primed and up on the frame. The biggest lesson learned at this stage was that the wood we purchased with an eye toward shipping weight, was too thin and warped almost immediately. But since we’d already put a lot of time into the walls with the wood we had, we decided it was best to make do. But next time I will probably try something a bit thicker or perhaps use the reverse side of a synthetic wood paneling.
Since Montana is such a beautiful place and we draw so much inspiration from the landscape, we all agreed that it would look amazing with a mural of a western scene on the back wall. This took over a week of painting with lots of help from our AMAZING intern Shelby. After the booth was finished and some thought put into how the products would be displayed we had one day to break her down and pack her up in a big jalopy of a crate, and be ready to ship off to New York on May 1st.Next we tackled the pre-show mailers, a sort of invitation to visit your booth, a chance to showcase your talents and grab some “free” press. Last year we missed out on sending mailers and completely regretted it! So this year we went all out tying it in with the booth design. We digitally printed our oversized mailers with the same western landscape and letterpress printed over top. We then die-cut state of Montana postcards and wrote personalized messages to each recipient. We tied everything together with a corresponding letter-pressed belly band and slipped in a separate social media card so people would know where to follow us online. I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is, as it introduces you to buyers before the show, gets them excited to see your work and is a great opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities!
With the mailers sent, we had just a couple short frenzied weeks to wrap up any final letterpress printing, product packaging, finish the catalog updates and send them to the printer. Many, many, many cards were printed in this short period. I don’t even know how we could have gotten all of our packaging done without the help of Shelby and the incredible amount of time that all of our families put in. It was truly a family affair with husbands and mom’s pitching in daily to keep us afloat in an ever growing sea of things to be done. Someday I hope to avoid this mad rush, but that would mean cutting out any and all procrastinating and running a tighter ship as far as planning and time management… something that tends to go out the window in the struggle to balance work and family.
Finally the day came to pack up our stuff and head to NYC! Waking in the middle of the night to catch our 4:30 am flight, we flew in to Newark airport and cabbed it to the Javits center with our small army of suitcases. Our booth arrived a couple hours later, and it was time to get down to business. It took us the full three days to re-assemble everything and get all of our product up on the wall. We had hoped to have a day in there to relax and see some sights but we were sabotaged by our own OCD-ness and in the end used up every last second making it perfect. Then it was three and a half days of smiling, greeting, chatting, (eating way too much take out), running around the Javits, placing orders, and getting to know our awesome neighbors. We LOVE the two close-up shots below that were taken by Oh So Beautiful Paper for their feature of our booth in one of their 2015 NSS recaps, thanks Nole! It really began to feel like our hard work paid off, we had five items that were finalists in the Best New Product display by the NSS and three products named finalists in the Greeting Card Association’s annual Louie Awards. The Louie Awards Gala was gorgeous. Held at the beautiful Edison Theatre, which was perfectly suited for the event’s black and gold art deco theme. It was a wonderful night made unforgettable by winning our first TWO awards in two separate invitation design categories.After all was said and done, the tear down and repacking of the crate took about 9 hours and then it was time to go! It felt as if we were the first to arrive and last to leave for the show, but it was such a great experience from beginning to end! I should also mention going to Oh So Beautiful’s Paper Party was one of the highlights of the week. It was so nice to get to unwind and chat with other vendors. The photo booth was a blast too! We can’t wait to do everything again this time next year but until then, we’ll be hiking, fishing, and printing our tushies off to fulfill orders, and drawing up more inspiration for more new work!