So...as it turns out, in 2015 I did a TERRIBLE job of blogging. That's the bad news. The good news I guess is that the reason I was so bad at it was because I was SO busy! I posted all about my prep work for Surtex and had the best of intentions to post all about my experience there as a first-timer but it just never happened.
So... I am now going to finally share my experience at Surtex 2015 as I work on my final preparations for Surtex 2016.
Last year was a complete whirlwind! I made the drive from Columbus, Ohio to a remote parking lot near Newark airport in New Jersey with my mom and a car load of stuff for my booth. (I really didn't want to risk having my luggage, full of banners and marketing materials getting lost if I flew.) Plus, I had a shelving unit, a few stools and a bunch of samples as well. I didn't want to deal with the logistics of shipping everything either. The remote parking lot was cheap and we just got a cab to pick us up from there and take us into the city. 3 of my cousins and a great friend of mine met us there, so I had a "Big Fat Greek Gaggle of Girls" to help me out. (I'm Greek on my Mom's side and we travel in packs)
We set up on the first set-up day and were able to get it all set up that day. That meant we had the second set-up day to go shopping and "trend-spotting". (and have a nice ladies lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Soho, Mercer Kitchen)
I had a corner booth, which was great! I have a corner booth again this year! I used vinyl banners printed with Smartpress.com and they did a great job! I really like the quality of the banners as well as the color. They went up pretty easily with poster size Command strips. I had a shelf from Ikea that I brought ($20 galvanized metal shelf that I spray painted gold) and 2 stools from Ikea (they came in black but I painted parts of them gold) They were easy to put together. I definitely did the first-timer thing where I spent a lot of time and money (and stress) creating mock-up product samples to have in my booth. In the end, I think it looked good and some of the things caught people's attention, but I don't think that it was necessary to have as much stuff as I had.
I ordered by business cards from Moo with many different back designs which was great because people that were really interested in my work took more than one. They used them as reminders or reference so they could remember what prints they really liked and also so they could share them with their co-workers once they got back to the office. I also had stickers and postcards which most people took.
Full view of my corner booth
Close up of my shelf with product samples
|Show Time! In action at my booth.|
So many people warned me that your first time showing at Surtex is usually slow. Word on the street was that a lot of companies like to see what's new, but often times, for whatever reason they are unsure about working with a "newbie". I was cautioned not to be disappointed and that it typically takes 2 to 3 or even 4 years of showing at Surtex before you really get a lot of steady clients. Supposedly, the first day of the show is a little slow because people walk the show just to see what's there and then they come back the second day to actually sit and look through portfolios etc. So, Sunday is usually somewhat slow and then it picks up on Monday and then Tuesday is really slow. However, that was not really my experience at all. Now, since this was my first time at Surtex, I don't know if this year was just different or if I lucked out in getting traffic in my booth all 3 days - but either way, I was busy! I was pretty busy the entire time which was such a surprise. I had planned to walk the show myself quickly and even check out NSS and go to a trend seminar. I had help in my booth, so in theory, that should have been fine, however I never felt like I could actually ever leave my booth. Not when I had potential clients in it. So, I only left my booth to use the restroom or eat something quickly.
I can't complain! I was thrilled with the response to my booth! I met so many amazing people and gained some amazing clients! I also sold a few prints outright. I can honestly say that the amount of work that I got out of Surtex paid for Surtex.
I have a handful of products out in the world now that I'm really excited about. I created my first coloring book for grown-ups last summer called "Blooms, Birds and Butterflies" with Peter Pauper Press, and it is now available online and in store. I had a LOT of fun working on it, but it was a LOT of work.
and Saks Off Fifth. It's also available in-store at select Hallmark stores.
In addition to the coloring book, with Peter Pauper Press, I have a "Dapper Fox" journal.
I also have a set of "Blooms, Birds and Butterflies" notecards.
Keep an eye for out for more products with Peter Pauper Press. There will be coloring posters and coloring postcard sets too!! There are also a few more journals and notecard sets in the works.
I also am very lucky to still be working with Robert Kaufman Fabrics. My "Fabulous Foxes" fabric collection launched this year with "Lady Foxes" and "Sailor Foxes". It comes in cotton quilting fabric with some options in slicker fabric and jersey knit.
Here is the "Lady Fox" assortment
This is my sweet little Elle in a reversible jacket I made for her.
Here is a fun beach tote I made with the "Sailor Foxes"
And here is my sweet Elle again in a dress made by the very talented Mel Pearson of Doodle And Peg Check out her adorable hand made children's apparel!!
I also had the exciting and proud opportunity to work with my son, Emerson. He loves to spend time with me in my studio drawing and one day we decided to do a project together. He drew a bunch of birds and cats and I scanned them in, put them into repeat and colored them up in Illustrator. Children's artwork is SO amazing and makes the cutest patterns! Emerson's "Doodle Pop" fabric collection is now available in cotton quilting fabric.
My newest fabric collection, just released is "Burly Beavers". And yes, it is beavers. Lumberjack beavers. With beards. Enough said.
It comes in cotton quilting fabric AND in flannel!
Most of my fabric collections can be found online at Amazon, Hawthorne Threads, Fabric.com, Fabricworm and more.
Stay tuned for several more fabric collections launching this year.
I also made some great connections with a few stationery and greeting card companies. I have 2 greetings available now at Trader Joe's.
And I also have a slew of notecard sets, postcard sets and magnetic notepad sets available with Note Card Cafe. Many of them are available on Amazon.com as well.
Here is one of the notepad sets
I've also continued to work with an Argentinian brand called Matete Objetos that makes bags, thermoses, notebooks, pouches etc.
I love these bags!
Lastly, I met a few clients that I do custom and freelance for which is so much fun because I still get to use my Fashion/Product design skills.
Surtex 2016 is in just a few days and I'm just as nervous and excited and stressed out as I was last year! I got a corner booth again this year! And I'm renting 2 shelves that hook into the walls instead of bringing and building my own. And I'm brining much less product samples, but this year they are ALL real products that are out in the market - no mock-ups. Yay!
I'm also really excited to be speaking at one of the Conferences this year called, "The Artist 'Life Cycle': From New Business to Established Operation" on Tuesday, May 17th from 11:00am to 12:30 pm. If you're new to the world of Surface Design or just want to learn more about how to run your surface design business, come and check it out. I will be speaking in a panel of other artists in varying stages of their careers. I think it will be very informative. I wish I had been able to attend a conference like that when I was starting out.
Lastly, I am partnering with Modern Thrive to teach an online workshop called "The Business of Surface Pattern Design". If you want to learn how to build your career as a Surface Pattern Designer - this is a great opportunity. If you sign up before June 1st and use discount code "Andie Hanna" you can get $30 off the $97 price. It's June 7th-9th at 7pm CST. Click HERE to learn more and register.
I'm off to New York in 2 days. Wish me luck. I will be better this year about posting about my experience at the show.