Several times a year, retailers are privy to attend trade shows offering items from gifts to home goods to stationery to accessories to clothing. Basically, if you want to sell it, you can find it. I have been attending these shows for over 20 years, but it had been several years since I had attended the New York show. So, when the opportunity arose to attend this year, I went for it!
“You see pretty things and it smells good.” —Nelson
The Javits Center lobby is washed with natural sunlight. High ceilings and being able to see the sky above you brings an extraordinary excitement that makes you feel everything is beautiful! There is no printed floor plan or vendor list for these New York shows so I decide to head in to hall marked the National Stationery Show (NSS).
Minus the natural lighting you are in a basic exhibit hall—less ethereal but still exciting. Walking the floor I am watching for trends and that really special product(s) that I can share with you. The hunt is on!
HERE'S WHAT I AM SEEING IN GENERAL:
—hand drawn small images on white
—letter press (a personal fave)
—young artists starting out
—vintage image remakes
—untraditional and bold lettering styles
I love the emphasis on texture and color I see. Whether is is the type of paper used or the printing like letter press, there is a pleasant dimension to cards and posters. I was excited by some of the more interactive offerings like scratch off cards on which you could write your own message under the scratch off. My husband was quite taken by some of the more technical products such as the “recording” post it notes and the bar scan app that makes a figure move!
Heading back to the show I am primed and ready to take on the day! First stop—Rifle Paper Co.
If I could be a product, I am pretty sure it would be this one! There is nothing like a fabulous colorful design and Rifle Paper does not disappoint! Whether it is their distinctive florals or fanciful drawings, I am all in!
Next is the eye candy supplied by Lifeguard Press, Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer and ban.do. While each brand has it’s own distinct identity, they are all at the same time whimsical, classic and colorful with just the right amount of black and white.
One of the things that both of these companies have in common is a beautiful, eye catching booth. So here is my next point — NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF EXCELLENCE IN MERCHANDISING AND DISPLAY! As I am walking through row after row of vendors vying for my attention, what makes a product stand out? One of the notes I made today was “what catches my eye?” I will say that a great product CAN jump off the table at you but how it is presented will seal the deal.
HERE'S WHAT I'M SEEING IN STATIONERY & GIFTS:
—more color, less neutrals
—words on everything (as opposed to pictures)
—Ruth Bader Ginsberg
—literary references, writers
Political and social issues are well represented. You find more of the liberal philosophy than the conservative, but retail is a quick extension of media so this is not surprising.
(NOTE — Southern trade shows will have more of the conservative philosophies represented)
Historical, literary, scientific and political figures whether the likeness or words are strongly represented as well. You could not go down an aisle without spotting Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The woman may be small but her likeness is EVERYWHERE! Not surprisingly, “woman power” was in no short supply. From creators to representatives to the product itself women were definitely “doing it for themselves!"
And if you are a retailer today, one of the take aways was that apparently you must carry socks! This trend of fun and whimsical socks started 6 or 7 years ago but has now turned into a “sock tsunami”!!! Designs previously found on paper goods, canvas, or 3D are now on socks. Every 3rd booth offered socks. You will have no trouble finding the sock that is right for you: flora and fauna, Disney and the Dukes, puppies, kittens, crass language, uplifting language, music, cartoons, classical art...you name it, there’s a sock for that!
Day three was spent wandering the vast dreamland of home accessories. I can honestly say that I saw next to none of the Pantone color of the year. I sort of believe that this campaign was invented so that designers and writers would have something to show and tell. The color of the year is much less of a ”thing” and more of a teaser to lure you into talking about design.
HERE'S WHAT I DID SEE:
—cream base pallets with color pops
—clear colors (not muddled)
—clean lines with a nod to, but not a knock off of, the classics
Life is definitely pretty and comfortable in this section. It was nice to see chairs in which you actually wanted to sit and rooms in which you felt were more like a real home.
So what is the take away from this trip to the New York market and NSS? It is always good to see even familiar things in a new and different light. Not everything I saw was a “discovery” but even still, seeing the items in a different set up or atmosphere articulates how important our individual interpretation is to the items with which we surround ourselves. Here are two final thoughts:
1. There are so many great people out there expressing their talent whether is be in creating, displaying or selling--more power to them and congratulations on making a living at realizing their gifts.
2. There is a LOT of stuff out there. Really. There is truly something for everyone. If you are not finding it just look a little harder. Or ask me! Do not settle in choosing your “stuff” and definitely do not settle on your STYLE and SPIRIT!
That is MY STYLE and MY SPIRIT —