Well folks, I just returned from the ENK trade show last week where Little Pea made their official East Coast debut and I must admit I am over the moon. Launching this business has been a real roller coaster ride, with ups and downs around every corner. However, I can happily share that I feel the brand seems to be finding it’s footing within the industry and gaining great momentum. In the greater scheme of things this show was a baby step in the development of Little Pea, but a start and for that I am so grateful! For me, a baby step is a major milestone. 🙂
Having just posted the Food for Thought piece, I thought a follow up comparing my experiences was in order. You see, my official launch at KIDShow last August was – to be quite frank a bit of a let down. As I mentioned, the show seemed slow and definitely did not meet my expectations (from a sales perspective). Taking that initial experience and what I learned, I quickly made some adjustments to my sales model and was eager to see how the addition of sales reps would affect my business in the 2nd season. Let me tell you, thus far I am thrilled with the results and couldn’t be happier with the team I have in place.
I had the pleasure of finally meeting my NY based rep, Terra Fazio and her team over at Thread Showroom. I spent some time with them at the show, mostly observing how they work and I must admit their approach and how they interacted with customers was exactly how I would have presented collection myself. In addition, I also found their merchandising approach within the booth to be thoughtful and intelligent – grouping like collections together in a way where they could compliment with one another vs competing. Which I think is extremely important when sharing booth space with other collections. Sales with representation behind you – definitely better. They had several appointments pre-booked which resulted in actual PO’s! Yay! Plus, several local accounts had appointments booked for the weeks following the show which I feel will also have a positive affect on sales.
To answer the question are Trade Shows worth it? From a sales perspective, honestly, no (at least not yet) but I feel the exposure and momentum gained from being at ENK this season to be invaluable. It would be easy to walk away from trade shows if you base the outcome on dollars alone; however, you must also take into consideration the publicity and networking opportunities that the shows provide. Yes, there were accounts that passed on Little Pea; however, as the brand grows and gains more industry notoriety those accounts might add the collection to their assortment in future seasons. I strongly feel you need to hit buyers from all angles, they need to see you in trade publications, on blogs, in the showrooms, at the shows – it gives the collection credibility and in this economy you need that. In combination with a strong sales team I do believe the orders will follow.
I am already looking ahead to the next shows in anticipation! Little Pea was shown in San Francisco this past weekend(I am anxiously awaiting news), La Market Week, and next month in Atlanta. My first season was an experience, like I said of ups and downs. I admit, mistakes were made but I have been hard at work setting in place an infrastructure that I feel will support my brand. At the end of the day I am proud of the product I am putting out there, it’s a long road but if this show is any indication of what lies ahead I am happy to continue to chart my course.
Enjoy your Monday!!