Surtex 2013 :: Again, please!

I’m both incredibly happy and incredibly sad to say that my first Surtex has drawn to a close. I’m happy because so much good came from it… and sad because I wish I could go back and do it all again! During the planning for the show, I experienced a strange brew of emotions… joyful nervousness; confidence with a side of doubt; and an anticipated blend of hope and fear. But after all is said and done, if I had to choose one word to describe the experience, it would be a big. fat. YAY!

Go big or go home
When I decided to do Surtex, I tried to gather as much information as I possibly could. I read blogs, bought e-books (thank you, Tara Reed!), listened in on Surtex’s amazing webinars (again, thank you Tara Reed), spent way too many hours on Linkedin, and then put all of that information through a filter and started to design my whole presentation. My career has been in graphic design up to this point, which helped… I’ve spent years designing brands and presentations for other businesses, so it was such a rewarding experience to put that kind of effort into my own. I did things I’d never done before… I designed a trade booth, a press kit, a promo video. I got fabrics printed, I made a look book, I put ads in publications. I decided that if I was going to do it, I had to dive in head first. When we were all set up, it was thrilling to see the final package.

So maybe it’s okay to obsess?
I can’t tell you how many nights I lay awake in bed worrying that I was going to forget something. I had been building an epic checklist for months and felt like a total weirdo. But during set-up, I felt like a magician pulling rabbits out of my hat. Do you have any safety pins? (Of course!). How about scissors? (Two sets). Tape? (Do you want duct, scotch or double-sided?) I fully nerded out. I also kinda put myself through the ringer… I was pretty hard on myself, and never let myself believe that I was working enough — but I didn’t want to get to Surtex and feel like I could have done more. So even though I drove myself crazy some days, I can say that I gave it my all, and I’m really glad that I did. It was worth it.

Linkedin Lover
So as it turns out… I kinda love LinkedIn. I went for the networking opportunities with new companies, but I stayed for the group forums. The Art of Licensing group is amazing, and the Surtex first-time exhibitors group was so helpful. Those groups saved me in so many ways, it’s invaluable to have a forum to ask questions and actually have people respond to you, and nice to have people to share in the little adventure.

It’s so nice to have friends to share it with
I was so lucky to have two of my best friends come with me to New York and to have such strong support units by my side — for practical things like helping me set everything up, impeccably wrap gift boxes, create beautiful flower arrangements, give me a break so I could eat lunch and save me when things got hairy. But more importantly, to be my wing-ladies and share the experience with. It was so much richer being surrounded by people who wanted me to succeed and would share what felt like mini-triumphs with me. And to have some NYC fun with after the days were done. X’s and O’s to Moira and Sam!

And nice to meet new friends too
I met so many warm, lovely, giving people and left with a full heart. I met tons of friendly fellow exhibitors, and some of my design crushes that are as lovely as they are talented, like Helen Dardik, Lilla Rogers, Tracy Walker, Alanna Cavanagh, and the other nice people from i2i art, Dinara Mirtalipova, Paper & ClothRebecca Bischoff, Hannah Rampley, Rachel Gresham and too many others to name. And I met a ton of new companies that were so down-to-earth and receptive to my work — I was ready to crack out some armour to protect my feelings, but was so happy that I didn’t need it.

Overall, it was a thrilling experience and I’m so glad I took the leap, and would love to do it again. And fingers crossed for some exciting things ahead! A special shout-out to those of you who stopped by my booth to say hello!! It was so nice to meet you guys.
Photos by Samantha Coulombe, who in addition to taking these beautiful photos is an incredibly talented Interior Designer. Click to see them larger!

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_1Me

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_2Duo

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_3Duo

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_4Table

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_5Shelf

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_6Sign

ElizabethOlwenSurtex_7Girls

19 comments

  • May 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    Huge congratulations Elizabeth! Your stand looked amazing! You must be so proud and I can only see your career soaring from now on :)

    • May 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm // Reply

      Thank you Leanda for your sweet comment :))

  • May 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm // Reply

    Love this recap! I thought your booth was one of the best-branded ones there, and to me it seems like that’s the key to success.

    I went to walk the show this year with the intention of seeing if NSS or Surtex was something for me to consider for my studio. I’m definitely thinking Surtex is the way to go for me. Did you write many orders/contracts there at the show or is that something that happens afterwards? I guess what I’m asking is, did you feel like it was profitable?

    • May 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm // Reply

      Thanks Rachel! Leading up to the show, I was prepared for the fact that not a lot of actual deals are made at the show — not that it doesn’t happen, but I was actually advised against making deals at the show (what if your dream client walks along and wants the same thing the next day?). The main point is to make contacts and get in front of companies who are walking the show so by that standard, it was a success. For me, the next 6 months will determine how profitable it was for my business, but I have a lot of amazing leads, so fingers crossed! I think its far more common at shows like Printsource for deals to be made, as most of those artists are selling, not licensing.

  • May 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm // Reply

    Great post. I think all that “obsessing” paid off big time. Your booth, video and materials looked fantastic and spoke with one beautiful voice. Congratulations on a successful Surtex 2013 and good luck with your leads! I wish you the very best.

    • May 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm // Reply

      Thanks Natalie! So glad to hear the show was a success for you too… best of luck with the next steps! :))

  • May 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm // Reply

    Elizabeth, your booth was absolutely gorgeous…and no doubt your hard work, incredible art, and stellar marketing will pay off. So excited to see where all your art lands!! Congrats!!

    • May 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm // Reply

      Oh man, thanks Melissa! That means so much coming from you! I think your booth was one of the absolute best of the show :)) Thanks for the well wishes… I’m sure the show was a success for you too and hope you land all sorts of new deals too.

  • May 30, 2013 at 8:51 am // Reply

    Hi Elizabeth! I thought a lot about you these days and how the Surtex went. Your booth looked oh ah lovely and I am sure you made wonderful connections. I am still in awe with your work :). Congrats and cheers to your success!

  • May 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm // Reply

    Well done Elizabeth. I walked the show with several other artists and all of them commented on how “put together” your booth was. Lovely.

    • June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm // Reply

      Thanks for sharing that Kris, gave me a nice boost on this grey rainy day! :)

  • June 2, 2013 at 1:22 am // Reply

    Elizabeth, it was a pleasure meeting you! Your booth looked amazing and you rocked it out. And that Look Book! Shut the front door, I love it!

    • June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm // Reply

      Hey Rachel! I was so glad we got to meet too — I’m an admirer of your work :) Thanks for the nice words!! Hope the show was a big success for you!

  • June 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm // Reply

    Hi Elizabeth, I was at the show to take the workshops and had the chance to walk around and have a look at all the booths. I am a fan of your work and it was a pleasure to see your booth stand out as a well branded experience. Congrats! Your supporting materials were also fantastic. Obsessing definitely paid off. I wish you great success in the coming months!

    • June 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm // Reply

      Thanks so much Anna! Hope you got a lot out of the workshops… I attended a few sessions last year and found them really helpful. All the best!

  • June 7, 2013 at 2:55 am // Reply

    Hi Elizabeth,
    It was SOOOO nice meeting you in person! You’re such a sweet and beautiful young lady who is incredibly talented! Your booth looked amazing, just like like your entire presentation. Hope you’re staying busy with your orders and connections!
    With much love,
    Dinara

    • June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm // Reply

      Hi Dinara! Awww, man… I could write you back the *exact* same message – you are a beautiful talent and I adore your work! Meeting you and Shawn in person was a highlight and was part of what I loved about the whole show experience. Looking forward to hearing what happens next for you and if you’ll be doing Surtex next year. If you do, we must make sure we’re close by to each other! Talk soon, xoxo

  • June 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm // Reply

    I just walked the show this year and stopped by your booth to say hello. You are so sweet! Also, your booth looked lovely and so well put together. Everything looked perfect. Glad to hear it was a success and wishing you all the best in the coming months!

    • June 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm // Reply

      Thanks so much Sarah!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>