Let’s start from the beginning of how I got into the whirlwind that is NSS :)
Last May, I was nearing the end of my 12-month maternity leave when I came across this video:
The National Stationery Show was nothing more than a pipe dream. queenie’s cards had only been a side business since 2008 and I just entered the world of wholesale that month (May 17, 2013 to be exact). I was scheduled to be back at my 9-5 like most moms after having a baby. As much as I enjoyed my job before I had Madeline (I was a photographer/graphic designer at a children’s toy company), I knew I was meant to explore other options. Having a stockist and then seeing this video all within a week left me wide-eyed with hopes to bring queenie’s cards to its true potential. I researched day and night and drove hubs crazy the next couple of months. The number one reason why I was hesitant to even submit my entry to this show was the cost. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City is THE place to be for all sorts of tradeshows. This means exhibiting at this venue is super expensive. I’ve set up a toyfair here back in 2010 so I knew how grand it really is.
Fast forward to the fall, I was still thinking about the show and being away from Madeline for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week was unbearable. I needed to change this. On October 17, 2013 (I submitted my application a few days before, not thinking I would get accepted), I received the voicemail congratulating me on becoming an exhibitor! I must have listened to that message at least 3 times to make sure I heard it correctly. I felt completely elated, much like when I got accepted to university back in high school. I talked it out with hubby and accepted the offer (!!!). Before I knew it, the holidays rolled around, and with the support of my amazing family, I decided to leave my full-time position in the new year to pursue my own business.
On January 17, 2014, exactly 8 months after I dropped off my first wholesale order at a local retailer, I was saying goodbye to coworkers I’ve known for 6 years and was absolutely terrified. Part of me (and a lot of others, I’m sure) thought I was out of my mind to leave a secure job with benefits to risk it all for a dream — especially because I’m now a parent with endless bills to pay. But a part of me also thought this was the greatest move of my life (I must say, I’ve had nothing but support!). Designing and creating truly makes me happy and I sincerely believe queenie’s cards is my calling.
Since becoming a work-at-home mom, I’ve been working day and night to prep for this gigantic show. I read everything relating to NSS, watched all the videos, spoke to friendly fellow business owners who were kind enough to offer advice to a newbie like me, and I was totally overwhelmed. There was so much I needed to do in a very short amount of time. Companies spend a full year preparing for this and I had less than 4 months to catch up (another vital reason why I wanted to concentrate on the business 100%, evenings and weekends just wasn’t enough time). Plus, we had already planned a family vacation to Boston for a week just one month before the show! My calendar was starting to freak me out. I tried to do one thing at a time but really, I was multi-tasking like crazy. Oh, and did I mention I have NEVER done a show before? Not One of a Kind, not a local art show… nothing! I had no idea what I was getting myself into! So aside from documenting my NSS experience, what helped me get through a lot of unknowns was reading blogs that generously took the time to tell the world their journey through it all. I hope to be of the tiniest smidgen of help to anyone who might be going through the same thing as I was, and to also let you know how everything unfolded for me!
There is so much to say, I’ve divided this post into six parts:
Part 2 of this series will detail all of the prep that I went through leading up to the night of my flight. I’ll write about what worked and what I would do differently next time (if there is a next time!) and all sorts of tidbits for first-timers.
Part 3 will be about the booth from concept to setup and teardown. There are lots of things I’m glad I did and a few I would change if I were to do it again.
Part 4 is all about the show! From 10am on Day 1 to the last hour of Day 3.5 (it ended on a Wednesday afternoon). This was the fun part :)
Part 5 is the scary part… the cost! I’ll have a breakdown of the major expenses for my little 10 x 6 space. Everything added up so quickly.
Part 6 will be about breathing a sigh of relief! I’ve been back since last Thursday night and I’m still recovering from the utter exhaustion of the past week. This last bit will be continuous as I start to go through the post-show stages.
Thanks for reading and stayed tuned for the rest of the series! :)