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.
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 & Cloth
, Rebecca 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!