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Things & Stuff

The Blog of Emily McDowell Studio


My Booth's Theme is "Stationery:" Some Thoughts On NSS 2014

Hi guys! So the National Stationery Show starts in six days, and we've been busy figuring out all the millions of things that go into that, from booth lighting to press kits to last-minute sample printing. I launched my line last year at NSS, but leading up to the show, I was kind of blissfully ignorant about what I was walking into. A year ago, I was stressed and overworked because I'd just finished designing 45 cards in 6 weeks, and two weeks before the show, I was frantically reading random blog posts, trying to figure out what else I needed to do. Press kits? Mailers? OH CRAP, A CATALOG?! I didn't even get to walk the show last year, since I was the only person manning my stuff, in my shared booth with my friends at Igloo Letterpress. I was like a booth subletter. I didn't have show giveaways, or a fancy mailer. I didn't even know what a show special was, until a buyer asked me if I had one. Last year's NSS mailer: a postcard. Sent out, like, 3 days before the show.

This year, things feel different, because they are. I have a company now. We have our own booth (1544, holla!) and, unlike last year, people are paying attention to what we do. Which, for a while, was really stressing me out. As some of my retailer friends have pointed out, and as we've all seen on instagram thanks to the #nss hashtag, stationers REALLY stepped up the pre-show mailer game this year. I saw photos of so many amazing mailers, from custom-printed aprons to entire boxes of swag. We did a calendar poster, which a few folks asked to see in its entirety, so here you go: The handy NSS hashtag also alerted me to the fact that some people are doing themed booths this year, which I didn't even know was a thing. So I spent a few days stressing out about not having a booth theme, and having plain white foam walls, and OMG what if we didn't do enough, and then I was like, dude, snap out of it. Here's the thing: the Stationery Show is small enough that buyers are going to see your booth, regardless of how over-the-top your pre-show marketing is. Don't get me wrong: beautiful, themed booths are awesome. Crazy mailers are awesome. All of that stuff is great, and can be super fun to figure out. But it can also be overwhelming, especially if you're new to all this. Which leads me to my point: ...and super out-of-focus pictures. Last year, I didn't even have my own booth, and I DEFINITELY didn't have a theme, or live demos, or a kitten-petting happy hour, and it all worked out fine. Because when it comes down to it, the National Stationery Show is about your work, and getting it in front of buyers. Are you happy with your work? Does your booth show your products well? Does it have walls and lighting? Is it in the Javits? You are good. At this point, you can't control what buyers are going to respond to (and believe me, there's stuff of mine that I LOVE that nobody buys!), so you might as well try to relax, have fun, and be proud of yourself. Because if you're headed to NSS to exhibit next week, I know you've worked your ass off to get there. If you get a chance, come say hi!  My work and I will be in Booth 1544, and I'd love to meet you.


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