Monday, May 2, 2016

I Must Draw has a new Home

I must draw's new online store can now be found at
Once the blogs have been safely migrated over we will take the over. If you're on our mailing list you'll be the first to know !!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

National Stationery Show - Final Part 3 - The Show

Here we are the final instalment. I think my average work day was about 18 hours per day in the run up and during the show. It was crazy nuts busy, exercise out the window, eating proper food etc. So after all the preparations I packed up and headed to the airport to catch a red eye to New York. I slept pretty much all the way, there was no way any meaningful work was going to happen so I just tried to rest before Day 1 of set up. Now the show folks will tell you that there is a set slot move in time but let's just say it was flexible.

The not so Blank Canvas
So far so good, arrived walked what seemed like miles with 2 suitcases, back pack and hand bag to get to the shuttle bus pick up, which I had prepaid online. I had an hour to kill as the flight arrived early, so I think it was about 5am instead of 5:30am, so let's just call it pretty darn early. I'm not usually awake at that time, the shuttle bus came and I grabbed my umpteen bags and boarded. About 5 minutes into the drive I realized, horrified that I'd left my handbag behind in La Guardia Airport, money, passport, I.D. everything !! The shuttle bus driver to his credit turned around and headed back to the airport, there was only one other couple on the bus thankfully. It was a pretty tense drive back and nervous as hell I jumped out of the bus and ran into the terminal. Imagine my immense relief when there, sat on the chair was my bag. There were people sat either side who hadn't noticed the absence of an owner, but everything was in it. Faith in humanity restored, faith in reporting suspicious unattended bags not so much... (luckily for me.) After that it was pretty much a given that this was going to be a good trip. I'd averted near disaster and I was pretty convinced that luck was on my side. (Sidenote, carry as few bags as possible, less chance of leaving one behind and sleep helps!)

I arrived at Javits about 7am and dropped off my suitcases in my space which would be my home for the next 6.5 days. It took every single hour of time allocated to get the space show ready. It didn't help that the walls weren't white, after paying 4 figures for temporary walls you'd think they'd at least have a decent paint job.  I had what looked like orange coming through in patches. I did try and contact the team responsable but to no avail. Fortunately my fantastic neighbor had extra rollers and paint and was nice enough to share, it did take extra time that I hadn't factored in for the paint to dry but totally worth it. I was lucky enough to have brilliant first time neighbors who made the experience much more enjoyable and being native New Yorkers with cars had access to things like step stools which hadn't made it into the suitcase but were pretty essential for putting up signage.
Step stools are handy
Minimal but essential tools
As far as furniture was concerned, I had 3 stools and  3 tables shipped to an apartment in New York and then I took a cab to Javits on Day 2 of set up. I entertained ideas of going to Ikea once I was there, but honestly there isn't time, especially if you are flying solo.
 Javits the night before NSS opened, I was there till midnight.

The Final 

Because everything was so clean and white the bare floor didn't bother me too much. The flowers were given to me by another exhibitor who had too many. Fresh flowers are a really nice added touch.

Right wall

Most areas had pink carpet but the Fresh Section was yellow.
There you have it, the last installment. On the financial side I made my investment back within two months so definitely worth doing and I'm hoping to do it all again next year ! Also good to note is that you have to take everything, if you leave any furniture in your space or stuff on the walls you will get charged. Apparently there is some kind of collection process where your furniture gets donated but I couldn't find any info about that so what I didn't sell I gave away.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

National Stationery Show Checklist 2015 - Part 2

I will probably never write a series again, as it's now end of July and I still haven't posted all the parts. Here's part 2.

This in a nutshell is what I learned in order of importance to get prepped for the show.
  • Cohesive collection of Product
  • Clear brand identity and vision for your booth
  • Signage with your Brand Name and Booth Number
  • Great product photography ( I'm not saying I had this by any means but it's important your catalog looks professional)
  • Mailer to send to prospective stores
  • Catalog (Big huge time commitment do not leave till the last minute)
  • Business Cards
  • NCR Forms for Orders
  • Promo items for giveaways
  • Press Kit ( I ran out of time and didn't have one)
Great resources for info/visuals:
Oh so beautiful paper Blog
NSS website
Tradeshow Bootcamp Blog
Pinterest (of course)
Instagram #nss2015 #nss2014 (you get the idea)

I managed to send out some mailers to potential stores which was a small miracle, given time crunch...
Envelopes for mailer and takeaway biz card.
You know it's going to be a good day when the stamps inadvertently perfectly match your striped envelopes.

Giveaways - A lot of people do totes and pins. I did a very limited edition number of totes and some pins and clips which people seemed to be excited about.
Er, yes I printed these the morning I flew out !!
20 Caffeine fueled hours later and a catalog was born.
I work best under pressure but do yourself a huge favor and don't leave your catalog till the last minute. It was worth doing NSS for this exercise alone, suddenly I had SKU numbers, categories for over 100 random cards and once this was done it was a HUGE relief. 16 pages of blood, sweat and tears and the odd typo. I put the booth number on front cover. I printed 45 of these and gave them out to people who asked for one. I had about 3 on display and having done my research found this to be fine. I even emailed people PDF copies so they wouldn't have to carry more paper around. I would take more next time, but I had a plan of action if I ran out. My lovely artist friend Thinh Nguyen took this photo and when at the last minute literally 2 days before I flew to New York I was searching for a cover pic this one, with some Photoshop magic did the trick.

Did not think this was going to happen, but glad I had them !
NCR Forms, basically a 2 part form to write orders on, so that the buyer can take a copy with them. I had mine done at a local copy shop, cheap and quick. Once I realized you could actually buy the paper itself it dawned on me that copy shops must do them. Most of the online places were around $40 + shipping for 100. I was optimistic I'd take some orders but opted for 40 forms which cost me $8.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The National Stationery Show NSS 2015 - The Preparations Part 1

At the start of the year my big business goal was to take my brand national. Part of this plan included doing THE tradeshow for stationery, the National Stationery Show. To the uninitiated this is a BIG deal and unlike the craft shows has a 3 day set up period and the show lasts three and a half days.

It took me a while to commit (late February) but a few things fell into place and it seemed like the right time to take the plunge. Due to the lateness I had already committed to Renegade London and Unique LA which meant I was crunched for time. It's only me making/packaging/shipping all the inventory. For 2 1/2 months it was 7 day work weeks and for the last 3 weeks an average of 5 hours sleep a night. For me, one of the biggest benefits of doing a trade show was the deadline, after investing in a booth you don't want to waste that oney by not having a linesheet, catalog etc. At the start I read every blog post relating to NSS that I could find and started a pinterest mood board.

 As I was on a modest budget for the show I didn't want the added expense of freight shipping this can cost 1,000 each way to ship a crate,  so this booth needed to fit in a big suitcase. I was lucky enough to find someone who lived in New York and would be in London during the show, through a friend and saved a heap in accommodation. I was able to have IKEA furniture shipped to the apartment in New York which was a big relief to not have to go shopping during set up.
So this is how it began with some wonky lines and questionable perspective on a large piece of paper. I had a minor attempt at a mood board but ended up sticking 3 things to it and mostly just kept ideas kicking around in my head. The process was not unfamiliar, back in the day when I did my BA Fine Art Show or studio shows in London it was a similar amount of planning and frantic making in the lead up and it all mostly came together in the end. I think I probably averaged 5 hours sleep a night in the final weeks lead up, not through lack of trying to sleep more, my brain was just over saturated with to do lists and tight deadlines. Alongside this was still the day to day business stuff too. Shops decided to place wholesale orders which was great but made things even more hectic.
Some people do full booth mock ups with walls, (alas there was no space to do this) I made do with large sheets of paper cut to size and placed on the floor, I then started laying out product. Not the most ideal prep, but it does help to lay it all out, I didn't want any super high or low shelves and it helped to see the signage in proportion to the mock wall. I realized my original booth numbers were giganto and didn't use them.
Thought at the time... how the hell am I going to put up 100+ cards by myself !
Notice the not so helpful helper walking all over my walls !
Testing sticking power of glue dots
Yeah,  I ended up having major issues in the end with keeping stuff stuck to the fake walls at NSS, I went through, glue dots, double sided tape (two kinds) and then finally Industrial Velcro.  My point is be prepared, some things don't turn out as you would expect so be prepared to improvise.
Mounting the cards took 2 days
Card Armageddon
So I ended up with about 130 designs up on the walls and grouped them into : Birthday, Love, Friends, Holidays, Baby, Wedding, hello, thank you and other. When you have a Footmoose card you need an other category !
Laser Cut and Spray Painted Numbers
Signage was one of the easiest things for me, all the blogs said put your booth number on everything so people can find you, quite right too, Javits is a huge overwhelming space, you can get lost going to the restroom!
In Part 2, the hard stuff and to do list.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Renegade London - April 2015

My airport send off committee
I'm busy playing catch up with my blog posts after a whirlwind National Stationery Show, before I get to that here's what happened beforehand.
Hello London

This took longer than it should have.

New Country, New Signage
Embracing my inner David Hockney.

Renegade London
My sister thought me slightly crazy when I took her Ikea stool for my display. However, a couple were spotted at different booths so I wasn't alone.
Having helpers is not something I'm used to, I was told about this Swedish Store called Tiger, by my neighbor Ilka Dickens (who makes very funny cards) and it happened to be nearby in Spitalfields so I went for a wander. This giant pen was one of my purchases and proved to be a hit with my email list sign ups.
My sister being a trooper.

Loved this booth set-up

This booth had gorgeous ceramic planters and a really clean display.
Mini shoppers

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fabulous February

So January while being notable for my slow output, had its fair share of successes and definitely a really positive start to 2015. I Must Draw was featured in an article in the OC Weekly. There was an air of excitement as I hunted down a freshly printed copy which unfortunately ended in disappointment, and a trip to the library used book section where I landed a copy of a Martha Stewart business book. My husband tracked a copy down for me and there on page 28 I found myself looking at Footmoose in a very contented way.
OC Weekly Article !

In my quest for knowledge of all things paper I bought an online course about the Paper goods biz, (still haven't made my way through it all.) I learnt that half my line should be Birthday cards. It wasn't something I worried about before, I had all the major occasions covered plus the never ending line of any occasion "punny" cards. However it does make total sense, if you think about it. With that in mind 6 new designs have been created and I'm sure there will be more added to it.
a really nutty birthday card
With no event prior to Vee Day I had to make a late January display instead. I probably spent more time on making the backdrop but I think it was worth it. 
cascading hearts 100% recycled materials of course

Valentine's Display at Artists and Fleas
Wool Flower
With Valentines Day on the brain I got a bit obsessed with the idea of making fabric flowers but wanted to avoid the monotony of hand cutting each petal so I made a template and lasercut them instead. I've yet to attach a stem but I've used them as photo props to great effect. That's it for now, next event 21st and 22nd February @artistsandfleas in DTLA.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Looking Forward, Craft Fair recap

It's been an action packed couple of months. 9 shows in 2 months and I made it. There were some good and some great shows but the one common denominator was great people. Being surrounded by people following their creative paths can't help but inspire and bolster your resolve. I was lucky this year, this was my first holiday season where I was dedicated 100% to the job and I have to say it really paid off. The application process starts so early for some of the shows that come November it's usually too late. I made up a calendar and wrote all the application dates and show dates, (and space size) this helped me focus on exactly how much inventory I needed, what set up to take and make deadlines. I did one set up on my kitchen table, took photos and this helped save time with show set-up because I knew where everything was going to go.

For the most part I had displays and signage I was happy with, sometimes the hoarding of props pays off and having access to a laser cutter made a huge difference. I took a woodshop class and it was worth the money just to be able to use the table saw. I had grand plans for a mobile set up but had to abandon them when I realized it was going to take a lot longer than I had initially thought.

My favorite 3 shows were: Maker's Arcade, Renegade and Artists and Fleas. These are all curated shows so until you get the acceptance email usually just a couple of weeks before the show you have to plan blind. So before we get to 2015, here's some pics !
Rained out at Patchwork, Santa Ana

Don't wear white shoes in Rain :(
One of my faves Maker's Arcade, San Diego Photo by @jasfitz
 This was the furthest I had driven for a show and despite being caught in an accident and racing to get set up on time, it was well worth it.
Photo by @jasfitz from Maker's Arcade

Prior to making the circular bauble sign at ENC

Sunny Day at Renegade.

I had a lot of dog visitors at Renegade.
Last Set Up of the Season
 The set ups were switched up based on space available but I think I saved the best for last at Artists and Fleas.
Handy to have a board listing your products.