Melanie & Freshie
I'm going to let you in on how I run my business. I don't really do budgets or spreadsheets to calculate cost analysis or market research - I pretty much just go with my gut. Mind you, my gut is primed with years of experience, but my gut has no formal business training. 

So when an opportunity to exhibit at the National Stationery Show came up, my gut considered it. Even though it's primarily a, you know, stationery show. Even though there was only one other jewelry line signed up to do it that I knew of. And even though it would cost me thousands to do it, plus the fact that my one and only vacation of the year had already been scheduled right before the show, meaning that my two assistants who had never before set up a trade show booth would have to do the entire setup without me…. my gut said "Let's do it!"

Luckily, my gut was right.

Our corner booth - ready for business!

The show was a success on so many levels, and I truly couldn't have done it without help from my fabulous assistants Melanie and Jessica. While I drank beer on the beach in Florida, they bravely conquered setup, armed only with a binder full of instructions and a stack of 4x6 photos! This is not an easy task - setup is frustrating and exhausting, especially when it's not your booth! 

They did a great job (my gut knew they would), and now they know how to set up and tear down a trade show booth! I am certain they are super grateful for this knowledge I have so generously bestowed upon them. Don't you think they look grateful?

Totally grateful. In no way did I rub my vacation in their faces, either. 

The best part of these shows is not just opening new accounts, but also networking with so many nice and creative people. We were even lucky enough to meet a few artists we adore! For starters, Jessica spotted her talent crush Lisa Congdon walking around the show and melted in awe just a tiny bit. On the night of the Paper Party, Melanie and I accosted chatted with the super-talented (and hilarious) Emily McDowell and her assistant Charlie while walking together on the sidewalks of New York so we're totally BFFs now, obviously

I've also been a longtime fan of Night Owl Paper Goods, and when I stopped in their booth to tell them so (did I mention I'm not very shy?), I noticed their new amazing collaboration with Dolan Geiman, a talented folk/mixed-media artist I've had the pleasure of meeting in the past. And as if being able to chat with them wasn't cool enough, they gave me one of their adorable totes! 


Dolan Geiman's collection with Night Owl Paper Goods
Next, I had to drool over swing by another of my favorite card lines, Hello!Lucky, and I ended up having a potty training conversation with the owner, Sabrina. Oh the unifying experiences of parenthood! You have to check out her potty-training chart if you're in the market for one. As the mother of a four and two year old, I could use an entire stack of them!


Hello!Lucky's potty training chart for girls

One of the best aspects of the NSS is being exposed to businesses we were previously unaware of. Three of those happened to be our booth neighbors! Fletcher & Fox is a company specializing in handmade wooden arrows (we will definitely be needing some for our new studio); Beve!, who makes the cutest paper straws and washi tape; and lastly, Katie Leamon from the UK, who not only makes us wish we owned all of her beautiful stationery but also that we could sport that fabulous British accent of hers. We also ran into a little bit of home at the show when we met Pop-In-Greetings and Craft Course, two fellow Nashville businesses. I love how small Nashville is - everyone in the Pop-In-Greetings booth were Belmont University alums like myself! I could truly go on and on about all the awesome people we met - there are just too many to mention!


Katie Leamon cards

In addition to meeting new people, we also relish the chance to reconnect with other small business owners we've met over the years. Eva & Kirk of Sycamore Street Press were our booth neighbors at the 2008 Indieana Handicraft Exchange - so long ago! Eva and I pondered how much our lives and businesses have changed since then - I mean we both have had two children and are still running our businesses full time - high five! I also got to talk shop with my buddy Beth from 1Canoe2 - her business has really exploded in the past few years and luckily she's super cool, otherwise I'd be totally jealous.

On a side note, I'd like to give a big shout out to the ENTIRE Etsy Wholesale team, the whole reason we were there in the first place! (We exhibited in conjunction with their partnership with Signature Mix.) They were beyond friendly and helpful, constantly stopping by our booth to check in on how we were doing and wanting our thoughts on the Etsy Wholesale platform. We have high hopes for their launch in August! 

Overall, NYC and the National Stationery Show (in the process of being renamed as the Signature Mix Marketplace) treated us very well.  We loved every moment of it and are looking forward to our return! I guess I can treat my gut to some ice cream.