Hi! I’m back from the show! So here is the play-by-play…
I arrived later than expected on Thursday and luckily was able to make it to the DEMDACO party! Let’s face it, there was NO WAY I was missing this party, unless I was stuck on a plane or at an airport that was not Atlanta. But, I was glad to have an hour to get ready beforehand. I arrived to the party solo, knowing that my “date”, my friend (and incredibly talented artist) Stephanie would be there soon. I have put myself squarely —and super-uncomfortably— in the center of industry social events in the past (ask me about the time I went on the 2006 Surtex cruise BY MYSELF ) but tonight was just… it was different. WAY different. I wasn’t really nervous at all. I was excited! I was happy!! I couldn’t wait to meet people from the company, learn about what they do and how the magic happens! Of course there wasn’t enough time for ALL of that in one night. But, this is where my head was at.
Once I arrived, it was was barely a moment before a bunch of nice ladies at the bar introduced themselves and asked me who I was. I got to introduce myself as “Yoga Pals” for the first time, which made me feel proud and a little sparkly too. Then something amazing happened… Faces lit up! Familiarity filled the air! Smiles! Pet talk! Fun instant chatter that Yoga Pals began. It was the coolest! And it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Later, I met some of the awesome people who I worked with on Yoga Pals. I had some great one-on-one time, got to know them a bit and got to have some real in-depth conversations. I also got to meet people who I have never personally worked with but who are involved in the project, and I felt instant synergy there too. Overall really felt the support for the work and creative vision… and seriously, that was so incredible. Mind blown, part one.
So, the trip started out great! But Thursday night, I barely slept a wink. Not even exaggerating. I could not shut down. Well, I think I slept two hours…
So Friday required a little extra concealer and a little extra coffee! Nothing I couldn’t handle… but I did have trouble deciding on my accessories so I reached out to my Instagram peeps to help with that. Outfit indecisiveness aside, I had an early event to attend that I was really excited about: Magnet Works Studio M “Sip and See” reception. What fun!!! It started at 8:30am so I was up and at it really early. But I will say, I was about as sparkly as I have the ability to get at 8:30am. The large supply of coffee available definitely helped. And, I couldn’t wait to see all they had going on. If you aren’t familiar with Magnet Works and their Studio M line of gardeny greatness, they are simply the cutest, THE CUUUTEST, outdoor living products. Seriously cool stuff. “Gotta-have-it” type stuff. Genevieve Gails’ Gypsy Garden line absolutely kills me. Do you like miniatures? (WHO DOESN’T? Am I right?) You have GOT to see this stuff. Crazy-crazy cute. And the production quality and attention to detail is kind of insanely amazing. (To see some of the line, search #gypsygarden on Instagram.) They have these little stacks of three flower pots that all come apart. They have little strings of Christmas lights. They have a cute little tire on a swing. They have little baskets with lids that open and shut. And they are all teeny tiny. Just completely addictive miniatures. They also have these little theme sets are totally killer-cute. You already know how I feel about their product DrinkBlots. (If you don’t, check out this and this ). And Stephanie Ryan’s new Fleur line!! It is the bomb-dot-com. Bottle candle holders. Little adorbo wall mirrors. Spoon-y garden markers. Candle-liers. Tea-cup-and-saucer planters. Totally sweet stuff. (I need to get one of those Fleur candle bottles for sure. I already know which one I want.)
Alas… it was finally time for me to meet my Yoga Pals… in person. Okay, so at this point, I can’t accurately describe my state of mind. In hindsight, think I was, unconsciously, procrastinating a bit. Isn’t that weird? I don’t know why! (Was I AFRAID of something??) I just think it was just a LOT to process. My trip had already been such a whirlwind—and I was a bit short in the sleep department, as you know—that I needed to get myself in a calm and chilled-out mind-set first before unleashing my Yoga Pals joy all over myself and spilling it all over the place. So, I got to the sixth floor, and I walked down the hallway. I passed by one of the Demdaco showroom windows. At first I didn’t see it. But then I realized I was looking at the wrong Demdaco showroom (there’s two). I asked someone who pointed out the second showroom to me. It was right across from the first. I walked closer.. I spotted the window.
When I got to the display, I felt like “I am HOME”! My Yoga Pals (I mean, OUR Yoga Pals!! Team effort! Team effort!!) were hanging out in this amazing window display. They looked so cute and funny and awesome and the set was so cleanly designed and matched the Yoga Pals design so well, that it was easy to take in and absorb! So bright and colorful and clear in the window. I truly could not have asked for more. I mean, brilliant geniuses put it together, so I wasn’t surprised by that. But, it DID take my breath away, regardless.
So then after awhile, I popped out for my own meetings in the early part of the day, here and there. But for the remainder of the day, I spent the rest of the time hovering around my cute Yoga Pals and milling about in the Demdaco showroom. I met tons of the sales people. It was so amazing! It was awesome to hear their insights on Yoga Pals, and chat briefly about the nitty-gritty stuff. (Briefly because, they were working, after all!) The times I spent meeting and chatting with the sales people were some of my most memorable moments of the whole trip. I learned so much. They gave me a lot to think about. They are on the floor at all hours of the show, introducing our lines to their customers and selling them. They are clearly sales gurus, as evidenced by the buzzing showrooms. And they work SO HARD. I have a ton of gratitude and loads of respect. And, it was really a blast to watch them in action. I felt like I was a super spy, but out in the open. It was very engrossing to see and hear them work with their/our buyers and potential buyers!
Friday night was lots of fun!! Friends old and new showed up at the artist gathering at the Marriott Marquis. Then a few of us went to the Greeting Card Association party (Thank you Cathy and Sue for inviting me!) . So many fun conversations and connecting with people! I had a really great time.
I actually did, shockingly, get a few hours of sleep Friday night. Not sure how that happened but I’m thankful it did. Then, Saturday morning, it was raining like crazy, and packing took me a little longer than anticipated. I arrived to the show a bit late. I had a meeting planned for the morning, and I really hate to be late, but, I was. It turned out to not be a problem at all, though! So, I was so relieved! (THANKS GUYS!!!) Then, afterwards, I spent the last few hours taking in some other showrooms, when not searching for a “missing” escalator (the building can be very confusing). I was able to grab a few “Mission: Accomplished!” wins during my day. Yay! But alas, I couldn’t hang out and explore for too long, because my flight was at six o’clock and I really had to mosey by three. (In case you’ve never been, Atlanta’s airport is, basically, a state.)
Earlier tat morning, I had stowed my luggage and coat at Demdaco, so I made a dash for the showroom to have a little “good-bye” time. I was able to spend about half an hour before I left, and I got to chat with a bunch of the sales team in the back room. I got to see photos of pets, photos of a house that one of the sales people had literally built entirely from scratch (wow!!). I learned about a pet rescue organization that one of the sales people helps to run! Now, ALL of these things are near and dear to my heart (the pets goes without saying, but the house stuff too– Matt and I renovated our new place last year and it took six months, so I totally know the emotional roller-coaster that can be). It was so cool to connect with them on normal-life stuff and just chat. Now, I also know that one of the sales team helps to run a pet rescue in her region, and I look forward to contributing to a future fundraising event to help support it. I also learned that Marta (Atlanta’s subway system) was likely flooded from all the rain that day, and that I should plan to take a cab to the airport instead. (And, thanks to Google, we ALL all learned that there is an actual person named “Marta Flood”. She is a Nurse Practicioner and she lives in Georgia.) So, as you can see, the back room is really where all the fun happens!
I did not make it to the Cash and Carry area of the show this time, like I planned. No rhinestone hair pins and Hello Kitty charm bracelets for me, oh well. Also skipped the Temporaries. I just ran out of time. Next time, I’m definitely going to stay a little longer.
I also ended my trip with virtually NO photos of friends + colleagues that I snapped myself (this is why this post is filled with pictures of almost all me. Sorry! They’re all I have! LOL!) This was kind of a bummer of a realization, BUT, this is how I see it: my lack of photo-taking really illustrated to me that every moment I spent with other people really, really counted. Big time. Basically, I was just too focused and tuned into the people I was meeting and the conversations we were having, to even think about breaking out the camera. Did not even occur to me. Weird but true. I was just way too absorbed in experiencing other people. In fact this trip was kind of an all-encompassing, larger-than-life “experience”. I’ve come to the show twice before, and every time is unique and full of learning moments. The first time I was the Green Queen and I have a great story about that trip (ask me some time when you see me in person). The second time was when I did the Art + Design show. But this time, with Demdaco, it was so incredibly unique and special and such a completely different experience. For me, it was about the art and the product of course, that is why we are here. But also it was also largely about growing and continuing to cultivate these awesome relationships with colleagues and friends, and the overlap on that venn diagram seems to be really high these days. How lucky am I to be able to say that? During this show, several people said to me, “you are blessed.” And I know. It’s true. It’s amazing. It’s so humbling, and they are so right.