I love NY NOW not only for new trends, artisan suppliers (at Artisan Resource), and wholesale companies, but for its networking aspect. As you may know, there are few places where we all can come together, so I find this show is a great time to do so. It’s always exhilarating to connect with so many of you who share a passion for the field.
A few highlights? I loved attending some of the seminars that run in alignment with the show. Keith Recker’s color presentation was a highlight; he talked brilliantly about upcoming color trends and themes, looking as far as Spring/Summer 2018. The Future of Handmade seminar presented by ByHand Consulting was also particularly interesting, pulling together a panel discussion with key speakers from West Elm, St. Franks, Globein, and design/brand consultant Lori Fox. Lori summarized two main takeaways from the talk: "Linking arms with other businesses that have been in the game for a while is a better approach than constantly starting and dropping new projects because of the lack of funding and customer base which often leaves global artisans worse off than before. And secondly, design should take priority over story. Give bullet points to show the customers the added value of artisan craft and materials, but with the bulk of information being on a separate page so the curious customer can find out more. These are often your brand ambassadors so those details and videos need to be shown, but most customers really don't care and don't want to be overwhelmed by messaging especially as that market gets more saturated.”
Artisan Resource was small (as it tends to be in the winter), yet the quality of exhibitors is always high. I find it a refreshing little section of the show, bringing artisan companies from all over the world. From the gorgeous, high-quality Tibetan cashmere shawls from Fibre Tibet to the beaded Maasai jewelry from Sidai Designs, the level of craftsmanship and care which has gone into each piece is apparent and high. This is one of my favorite sections of the show.
My main takeaway? If you are wholesaler, I find it imperative to invest in DESIGN. Develop collections exclusive to your brand, allowing you to stay ahead of your competitors. The world is getting too small, and the market too saturated, to think otherwise. Companies offering extremely unique designs which are aligned with their target market are in fact doing well at shows. But those who are offering a lot of the same product and not investing in designs exclusive to them are struggling a bit more than they would like. Even brick-and-mortar shops are now inquiring for products exclusive to their store. That said, I think that is the direction we are moving. Everyone is thirsty for something NEW, unique, and authentic.
Are you have trouble finding an experienced designer and/or need help finding the right artisan partners to bring your concept to life? If so, please reach out. I would love to hear from you because I have a fabulous network of designers who not only have a solid understanding of the market but experience working with artisans. And if you are looking to connect with an export-ready supplier to bring your concept to life, I can help match you up with the appropriate artisan partner. All in all, I hope to simplify the process so you can continue to do what you love and ultimately grow your business.