It’s been years since I’ve walked a trade show at the Javits Center, but the NY NOW promotions caught my attention earlier this summer. What used to be separately the Gift Show and the Stationery Show have been fused together and re-branded. I attended it this morning. I like to see what’s on the market, how companies are representing themselves and if there’s a connection between what I do and what’s being done.
This year’s show takes up only the top floor of the convention center rather than sprawling over several, and it was easily walkable in under two hours. Since I’m there more as a spectator, I cruise rather than study. I’ve seen lots of the merchandise before, am not interested in 80% of the products, but am always drawn in by good, clean design.
I want to share three take-aways: my favorite booth, the preponderance of cause-based products, and the importance of a strong sales team. I’ll do this in reverse order.
There were three young women working the Götze booth, a company I’d never heard of. They had tables in front of them covered with real fresh pineapples, carrots, zucchinis and potatoes. They, each revealingly clad BTW, were demonstrating their peelers, and I was magnetized to what they were showing. I won’t duplicate the pitch, but these items could create zucchini noodles, work in both directions – peeling up OR down – on your produce and come with a lifetime (forever!) guarantee. I was impressed and felt an immediate urgency to add julienned zucchini noodles to my repertoire. I’m very happy to say that I did not spend the $199 for a set of veggie peelers, but I might have parted with $49 or so based on their compelling story and presentation – about 6 times what I spent on amazon for a set of three a few years ago. As I write this, I’m practically hilarious that I even considered spending money on something I don’t need and hadn’t thought about until I saw them. I repeat: strong sales team.
Several booths stood out for their mission-based products. A portion of the profits, in one case, go to help their citizens get cataract surgery, a major problem in Nepal due to climate, diet and lacking medical care. Another lovely bracelet hand-manufacturer keeps women ‘fair trade’ employed and reports in annually to an oversight board who keeps these companies on the up-and-up. I enjoyed hearing the representatives talk about their goods and the good they’re doing in the world. Nice products and an uplifting mission.
Where I spent the longest time was engaged with a woman business owner, Brenna whose company is called lowercase toys. It’s founder and owner, Brenna Davis, generously shared with me about her offerings. What attracted me to her booth, besides the simple, elegant layout and palette, was the fact that her toys were made of felted wool. Only this wool didn’t come from sheep, but from recycled plastic bottles. While I’ve worked only with 100% felted wool, there was something lovely about the quality of her material that could open this artist’s imagination down the line.
I left after two hours feeling like I’d toured the world, satisfied that life is continuing, albeit fully masked, and that I love what I’m doing and will find the right market for my wares.