Well I made it back alive and well yesterday morning from Surtex, which has taken over my life for the better part of a year. Jill, a.k.a. best friend on Earth and my trade show “assistant”, kept likening it to having a baby. I can’t disagree! The 3 days were almost as surreal as holding my actual newborn for the first time. All that preparation and research, all of the anxiety and wonder.
We arrived on Friday, which was the first day we were allowed to set up our booth. Since it was my first year boothin’, I wanted to be there and get it over with before Saturday. (Who knew I was such an over-planner?) It was really great though because it allowed us to hang out both on Friday and Saturday evening. We visited Rockefeller Center and ate loads of good pizza, shopped some, and visited friends in the area.
On Sunday morning, the first day of the show, we arrived at the Javits Center at 7 a.m. because we are total paranoid fruitcakes. The show started at 9 and we already had 95% of our booth ready to go. We were the only ones there that early, but we made friends with the maintenance crew and I was less nervous from being there all morning!
Sunday was the only day I was really nervous, but once we talked to the first few people and got the hang of things, I felt fine. There are so many wonderful designers, art directors, and buyers who are easy to talk to and glad to be there! On Monday night I had been invited to a company party (a company I recently began working with) and we had a great time with all the folks there. I am always shocked at how different the design world is from the Fine Arts world, which is to say it is much friendlier and fun.
We made ourselves sick off all the mints in my booth. Carrots next time?
I made some great friends by Tuesday, my favorite being the sweetest and loveliest lady, the fabric designer Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom. Her booth was near ours so we were able to watch a professional in action…Jennifer has been designing fabric for years, but this was her first time at Surtex. She is a happy and fun spirit, which shows through in all of her work. Her entire family was there by the end of the show–brother, daughter, husband–they were just too cute!!
A bit blurry but this is me with Jennifer on the last day!
We met lots of other great people, including Rebecca Bischoff, Denise Albright, Patricia Zapata, Elizabeth Olwen, and Jessica Swift! Some of these ladies I have only ever seen online, so it was amazing to see them in real life. We also met Paul and Andrea of Cinnamon Joe, and Patrick Groombridge, among others. And can I please just add that I met Lilla Rogers, because that was a definite “PINCH ME” moment if there ever was one.
So Surtex is over, sort of. A mentor of mine recently told me that Surtex is about “contacts, not contracts”, and I have a lot of incredible contacts now. I am going through them and following up, sending requested images, and crossing my fingers that some of them will wind up being great collaborations. I am planning to be back at Surtex next year, and I can’t wait! I know Jill feels the same way 🙂