Design Your Biz: Trade Shows

Let's talk about trade shows!
Trade Show Exhibiting for Knit & Crochet Designers

As a knit and crochet designer, there are a few options for trade shows, but TNNA is the one that gets talked about the most (at least in my circle of designer buddies, there are other trade shows out there).

When I first started attending TNNA, I went to walk the floor. I'd schedule a few meetings, see what's new, and hang with my friends. As my business has grown and I've started working with a pattern distributor, I've had the opportunity to exhibit at the trade show. My TNNA looks much different now. With more and more designers (and other Business Creative Services members) exhibiting, I thought I'd talk a little bit about exhibiting as a designer.

It's All in the Planning.
However long you think it's going to take to get your booth ready, double it. As a designer, you have to bring a ton of samples to display in the booth. Do they need to be re-blocked? Do you need a new sample knit? You'll also need to have materials for shop owners to take with them. I made a mini-catalog of my patterns available through Stitch Sprouts. I had copies of my teaching brochure. These things can take a lot of time to layout and then you have to (most likely) have them shipped to you. No one wants to pay for expedited shipping!

Google Image Search is Your Friend
Obviously you don't want to straight up copy another exhibitors booth. But, spending some time figuring out what you like (or don't like) about other booths will help you with your own booth vision. I searched not only for booth photos from TNNA but also for craft shows.

Map it Out
This was key for me. 10-ft by 10-ft might seem like it's easy to fill, but my first TNNA booth looked majorly empty. So this year, for my second TNNA booth experience, I added more furniture and a lot more samples. I drew out my booth on graph paper both as a bird's eye view and each wall. I didn't necessarily plan out the exact location of each sample, but I made sure that all my furniture would fit like I thought it would and it really helped me get clear on how I wanted it to look. Here's my booth from this year - nice and full!

Know What Your Goal Is
As a designer exhibiting with my pattern distributor, it's easy to go in with the mindset that the TNNA booth is only "worth it" if I sell enough paper patterns to cover the booth and the trip. But the reality is while physical patterns are an important part of my business, it's not the only part. I was also promoting my new book and my teaching. If I book a couple teaching gigs off of TNNA, it'll have been "worth it" from a financial standpoint.

And Know Your Audience
Exhibiting at TNNA allows me to get in front of a different audience - the yarn store owner. On Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook and all the various other social medias, I'm catering my content to the knitter or crocheter directly. At the trade show, I'm making connections with a different group of people, and one that's important to the growth of my business. In addition to the yarn shop owners, I'm also showing off my work to yarn companies, publishers and magazines. Keeping your audience for the trade show in mind really helps make the planning a little bit easier too!

Have you exhibited at a trade show? What advice do you have for those planning to have a booth at an upcoming industry trade show?

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