06/02/2011

NSS recap :: part 5…pulling it all together

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:58 pm by meant to be sent

though the researching phase never realllllly ended, (actually is STILL going on for a few minor things) i did finally get to a point where i had gathered a ton of info, vendors and ideas (TOO much!) and it was time to make some decisions and begin to pull it all together.

like i mentioned, my branding was TBD for most of the planning process…which made it a bit more difficult to decide on anything, but it finally started coming together just in time to pick out and finalize all the fun stuff!

also, i had been testing several printers to use for my new collection, but had pretty much narrowed it down…and just in time because the it was finally coming together plus i had some super fun ideas for my catalog/mailer (one piece would double as both) and press kits to do. so now, to just execute it all and make some FINAL DECISIONS. but honestly, making decisions and moving on was one of the hardest parts…because every decision feels so monumental. but, once they are made…it is the. best. feeling. ever!

there was a ton to pull together, so where to start…lets see…how about…

the line…
as my line started to come together, the concept for the collection did too and it was feeling more like a real line. i had decided on four styles (perfectly preppy, completely classic, well traveled and very vintage) to launch with and the designs were really starting to feel like a cohesive collection. so i finally got everything together (all four books!) and sent it off to the printer (which i finally picked too!!)…and a few days later i had a TON of paper goodness delivered to my door!!! this made it all so real…i actually screamed out loud (and may have jumped up and down) when opened it! eeeek! it was like christmas at my house for a good week or two with everything arriving…

below :: the shipment of alllllllll my new designs :D

SO. with the designs all figured out, i was super excited, but felt like i still was missing just a little something for my line…

the basic premise of my collection is “something for everyone”…hence the different styles…soooo to build on that even more, i decided to offer several types of printing —digital, offset/thermography, letterpress—for all of the designs in all books. this worked well since most designs lend themselves to all types of printing, so it seemed like a plan! and something for every budget too! and that was the missing little something…check!

even tho my designs were all printed, i was still having a zillion convos with my printer about using special papers to help set my line apart even more, at least for digital printing (actually STILL finalizing this, but should know this week!). so along with the different printing came different pricing…to help keep it super simple, i decided to offer pricing based on printing and type of piece across the board instead of different pricing per suite. easy-breezy.

to even further expand on the something for everyone idea, i took six designs from the preppy collection and turned them into a line of boxed imprintables…those REALLY came together at the last minute as there was a printing mistake and had to have them redone and shipped to my HOTEL! ahhh! so i literally packaged them up in our hotel room right before the show started! yep. that’s them below in a horrible iphone picture on the bed at the hotel! :)

while i was finalizing the collection, i started to realize that i was essentially creating a library of style books…so i started referring to it as the “style library”…and bam! it all started to fall into place. (well, at least conceptually :D)

along with my new style library concept came all sorts of fun ways to tie everything together and really have things feel cohesive. i was SO excited to have a bigger idea to wrap everything around…

and it all started with…

the albums
even before the name came to me (and maybe this actually sparked the whole idea!) i knew i loved the idea of a library spine on my books, as well as the idea of a thick chipboard cover….just something about the mix of the textures that spoke to my aesthetic and what i typically do with my custom work (i.e. tons of layers and texture whenever possible!!)

so i asked some of the album vendors i had found to price these out, and ultimately, i picked a vendor that had awesome fabrics and allowed me to do just the number of albums i needed to do for the show. (that was a HUGE relief since a lot of places require you to do 50 or 100 as a minimum and couldn’t fathom that at the time)

at one point, i thought i might want to do a different color spine per book…but i couldn’t decide which colors!! i had gotten hung up on enough of these kind of decisions and was running out of time…plus it felt right to keep them consistent, airy and neutral like the booth, and let my designs bring in the bold colors and pop out of the books. so i found an awesome shimmery whitish cream color that was perfect against the greyish chipboard. yay!

i decided to add a pocket to the inside to hold “style boards” that would show all of my colors, papers and fonts for easy viewing while looking at a design in the book (rather than having to flip back and forth with these on pages in the binder). all about keeping it simple ;) oh and the pocket was also made of the shimmer fabric..it turned out sooooo neat!

below :: a picture of the chipboard and fabric swatch from my album vendor and the sketch of the pocket i added.

i got it all finalized and ordered soon after…the books came in and they were SO stinkin’ cool! it made it feel like everything was finally coming together…except you’ll notice the books are blank!

below :: the books when they arrived!

for the outside of the books, i had to improvise at the last minute because my original plan to screenprint each book title and my logo on each book was astronomical at such a small quantity. so, i had to kick researching into overdrive again and thought i had found a local vendor to pull it off (and for a great price), only for them to bail on me the week before the show. NICE. so i tried to think of any way i could to salvage the plan…i considered doing decals, iron ons, rub-off transfers, you name it. but ultimately i ended up doing a sticker on the spine and a raised plaque on the front with my chevron pattern and logo, both printed on shimmery paper to match the look of the spine. it turned out great and will be keeping the cover plaque but screenprinting the spines for the albums that were ordered at the show!

here’s how they turned out

{ tip: it is SUPER important, and might seem like a no-brainer…but you need to make sure that everything is consistent…from your website to your biz cards to your mailer to your products and booth to your catalog and press kits. it just makes everything feel like you have a strong brand and a solid business as well as a professional and pulled-together look. definitely something you want! :) }

to keep with the neutral, high-end look, i decided to use chipboard pages in the same greyish color. they seemed perfect since they were super substantial (1/16″ thick!) and of course matched perfectly with the books since it was chipboard. but to my surprise, even the super-thick board still tore during the show from all of the turning of the pages! which i guess is good because that meant a lot of traffic! but i was so not happy that happened…so i have since found another route that is super similar and even stronger, since it is not as soft as chipboard. more on that later….

the rest was in the details…
coming up with terms, pricing and process for ordering. finalizing the color palette (SO not easy if you heart color like me!) and font list for my style boards along with the paper swatch board…and finally laying out and sticking the printed samples to the chipboard pages. it was amazing how everything really came together when i added the fun envelope colors.

below :: pictures of the madness in progress!

this is the process of making the swatch boards. i xyroned my paper colors and used my handy-dandy accucut to cut out sticky-backed squares for the boards! brilliant! (or so it seemed at 2 am two nights before i left for the show!)

doesn’t this shot remind you of candyland!?

more candyland…and as you can see a big ol mess…running out of space too!

album pages in progress!

the booth…
for the walls, as my branding was finalized, i knew i wanted to use the all-over chevron pattern and i had a pretty solid idea of how i would layout the whole booth. from the start i knew i wanted frames of some kind (real, printed or decals) on the walls to represent each collection and that i would fill them with the different designs. and i knew i wanted the whole thing to be pretty neutral (so i could let the work stand out against what could be a crazy pattern!). though i felt really good about it, it just seemed SO scary to send the art over to be printed on a BIG scale and not see it first! yikes!

so i had asked the vendor i was almost positive i would use… A. if i could get a test print (aka chunk proof) so i could at least see the how the colors and pattern would print on the material and on their printer. and B. when is the last possible date i can get you the artwork (crucial to know this!!!) so i would know how much time i had to tweak.

they were AWESOME to work with and more than happy to send chunk proofs (and fast!).

so i did a quick mini mockup of one wall and some swatches of color and my logo to see how it would all print. i did a couple different navys and tested some different tints of the chevron pattern and frames. they came back and looked great, so i easily narrowed it down, but still somehow kept tweaking the design ever so slightly up until the last possible day i could send the art. ha!

below :: the chunk proof with swatches of materials for my albums

i had a few vendors in mind for the walls…but the pricing pretty much decided for me! so at least that part was easy and proved to be the right decision all around!!!

whew! what a RELIEF that was settled!!

on to the rest of the booth.

like i mentioned with the furniture, i had all sorts of scenarios and combinations of pieces in mind…and only one thing was constant—the ghost chairs!  i knew almost right away (though i very seriously considered using some fabulous louis chairs in a cool pattern or bold pop of color) that these were perfect and would add to the airy feel i was after, and not feel heavy in a super small space. all of the rental places i looked into had the ghost chairs too, so that wasn’t an issue. but, i was on the fence about the table i would use with the two ghost chairs, and was still deciding if i would move forward with the cabinet i had designed (see below).

instead of the cabinet, i was considering a buffet/console type table but it was all dependent on how much product i would have and was waiting to see if i would need the extra space or not. in the end, i did not end up having the extra product ready in time, but i still went with the big display cabinet and was glad i did because it gave me lots of extra space and a lockable cabinet!

below :: initial sketches of booth and cabinet design

again, i asked this vendor to give me a “MUST ORDER BY” date to help me keep everything straight and on track. (i work better with deadlines!) i pretty much made the decision on the walls, the cabinet, and the furniture all at once. then i just prayed it all looked good together when i got there!!! (thank god it did! pictures of everything in the next post!)

so now, the only big thing that was outstanding for the booth was flooring. i had finally decided to use interlocking foam carpet tiles, A. for comfort and B. cost was not bad. and TONS of places sell these, so i was able to find a spot that had good prices and would send me sample swatches of the colors.

i knew i wanted grey to go with the rest of the look, but as you can imagine, its hard to tell from the swatches online, so i eventually got the samples i requested (after like a week of wondering if they were even sent despite my urgent request) only to find they did not even send the lightest grey color swatch, which of course was what i realllllllly wanted! i found out there was an error on their website and that the light grey color was not available in the cheaper tiles! UGH. more money! but luckily not TOO much more…but now the problem was, i was out of time and couldn’t wait for another sample. but they assured me the color was MUCH MUCH lighter grey than the two swatches i had…and so again, i ordered and prayed it was right! (and it was!! whew!)

carpet settled!

{tip: request samples (early if you can!)…even if you have to pay for them…and, have your final order shipped direct to your booth or hotel! most stores i ordered from seemed open to that…just beware of extra handling charges that javits applies for sorting anything that is not part of a freight delivery)

then there was lighting…i hemmed and hawed over that for a while too, but kinda decided somewhere along the line that clip-on lights from home depot were jussssst fine. especially when i found out that to have them provided by javits was $99 PER LIGHT to RENT! yikes! so i bought the home depot ones a couple weeks before the show and, to keep it easy, shipped them as part of a bigger shipment direct to my booth, despite the extra handling fee. which meant that WE were installing them, (which you are allowed to do in a small booth space up to a certain number of lights). it was not difficult and worked out fine. but this was one of the things i compromised on from my original just-have-it-all-done-for-me-no-matter-the-cost plan.

so the booth was pretty much set (but we were about three weeks away from the show so it better be!! )

now on to the mailing!

i had a super fun idea for my mailing and was on the fence about doing a catalog since they would be another huge expense and take lots of time to design… so, instead i had planned to do a dual-purpose piece that would be used as a mailing and a catalog type handout at the show! it was one large sheet that would be mailed out folded, but as it unfolded, each panel revealed more information about my line. and finally unfolded to a 17×22″ poster showing 3-4 designs from each of the style library collections! was a fab idea, and totally would have worked but i was cutting it a bit too close with time and budget to print enough to cover both the mailing and handout quantities i needed.

so, i ended up doing it but printing a smaller quantity of the poster and designed a simple postcard to mail out instead. saved big-time on postage and printing going this route! and being down to the wire, totally needed a little savings!

below :: the postcard mailing ready to go out the door!

{tip: postcards are only 29¢ to mail vs 48¢ for a letter rate/1oz size. even the bigger companies do postcards, so don’t sweat it! though, if your time and budget allow DEFINITELY consider a more unique approach that will stand out in the mail…i design a LOT of direct mail stuff at work, so trust me on this ;)

poster images coming soon!

press kits
next up, i had to tackle the press kit.

i was super excited about these and had a fun way to tie them into my style library concept. i handmade custom chipboard folders that mimicked the look of my albums and added a library pocket and custom library cards to the inside front cover with information about my business and my line…on the right hand side i created slit pocket to hold the poster and added slits for my shiny new business cards! i lined the inside front cover with printed shimmer paper with the chevron pattern and of course my booth number! (you will hear about your booth number A TON as you look into exhibiting. it is pretty much as important as your SS#!) i finished them off with a shimmery library spine and a wrap label with a circle sticker that had my booth number stuck at the end of the label. i was SO happy with how they turned out. one of my favorite parts and really glad i stuck to my plan and was able to pull it together.

below :: the kits in progress

the cover with library spine

the library cards (the top card was set up to look like books had been checked out and those books….were from the style library of course, with the date checked out being the date of the show :)

the second card was some info about meant to be sent and the last two were blank cards for taking style notes!

the inside spread with folded poster, biz card and chevron panel!

the final inside spread with the library pocket in place

the front cover with wrap label

back cover wrap label and circle sticker

lots of kits piled up and ready to ship to javits!

aside from those i had one other thing to put together…i had been nominated for the best new product competition in two categories! yippie! so i had to put boards together super quick before we left for the show…here is one from the perfectly preppy line, entered in the “all things wedding category”! sadly, i did not win, but it is AMAZING exposure just to be entered. your boards are prominently displayed at the main entrance for all to see. DEFINITELY enter if you choose to exhibit!

so i think that about covers most of the pulling it together part…all up until just hours before we hopped a plane to JFK!

up next: PART 6—showtime!

4 Comments »

  1. […] up next :: PART 5—pulling it all together […]

  2. I’m not sure how I came across your blog entry, but as a new stationery designer with aspirations of exhibiting at the NSS, this was the BEST thing I’ve ever read! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. The whole idea of it is down right overwhelming for me. But as I go back and read your experience in its entirety, I believe I will gain the cofidence to press forward with my dream. THANKS SO MUCH!

    • meant to be sent said,

      wow! thanks so much for the kind words :) glad the posts are helpful!! it is definitely overwhelming but it can be done! :) if you are at all considering showing you should check out tradeshow bootcamp. VERY helpful. best of luck to you!

      • Jennifer said,

        I am definitely checking out tradeshow bootcamp. Is there a way to access part 6 of the post? I can’t seem to get to it.


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