Quilt Market 2017: First booth, exhaustion and some really fun invites
Here is my really late round of Quilt Market Fall 2017. For those of you who have never been, when you get home you are pretty much completely exhausted for at least a week. I finally feel recovered almost two weeks after it ended.
I spent the first day back replying to emails, day two and three doing the bare minimum required to keep the brick and mortar version of Quilt Addicts Anonymous open, followed by two days of absolutely nothing. Seriously, I didn’t even get out of my pajamas on Sunday, my first real day off in months, yes, months.
I think the exhaustion is expounded in my case because I really haven’t had a break since last year when I got back from Market. In that time frame I have made 26 quilts, many of them king-sized, published nine new quilting patterns, three block of the month pattern books and wrote my first pattern book that is due out next summer. This is pretty much my year in bullet points:
- November 2016: Get back from Market, get sick, take a mini vacation, hang on for dear life as I try to fill Black Friday orders and get not one, but two block of the month books ready to go to the printer for the first time.
- December 2016: Launch two BOMs in one month, decide I have way to much fabric for my house, and I need to open a studio.
- January 2017: Sign lease on a studio, begin setting it up. Also submit a book proposal and get accepted one week later! Congratulations, and your deadline is August 2017. Get to work!
- February 2017: Soft opening of the studio is a big success. Space next door comes open for lease, decide to expand to a full blown quilt shop.
- March 2017: Hold massive opening weekend sale, cut a hole in the wall for the expansion, start working on Spring 2017 Market quilts.
- April 2017: Open second storefront, adding hundreds of products, still working on Spring 2017 Market quilts, one of which is another Block of the Month pattern book.
- May 2017: Spring Quilt Market. Enough said.
- June 2017 – August 2017: All book, all the time, including during a family vacation at the lake.
- September 2017 – October 2017: Back to Quilt Market prep again.
So yeah, I’ve had a busy year. And I’m tired. But I also am super pumped at how much Quilt Addicts Anonymous has grown in just one year. I went from making my Quilt Market debut with the larger than life Kaleidoscope Block of the Month quilt hanging in Northcott’s booth last year, to getting a book deal, featured in magazines and was ready to have my own booth at this last Market.
I made the decision to do a booth months ago, so as I looked at all the new products at Spring Quilt Market, I also studied the booths. I looked at how they were constructed, what looked good and what looked way too busy, what made the booths stand out and filed all that away in my head.
I decided early on that I wanted to drive down. It is a 16-hour drive from Rock Island, IL, to Houston, TX, but that sounded much better than trying to figure out how to ship everything for a booth, and much less expensive. So after scouring the Internet for DIY trade show booth plans, and consulting with my dad who can make just about anything, I decided to create the booth in 4×4 plywood panels that would be screwed together with braces when we got to the trade show.
It worked, and I loved hearing the head of Quilter’s Dream say, “Now that’s real women’s work,” when she saw me breaking it down with a power drill in hand. But it was HEAVY, and cumbersome and the day we were setting it up for the first time, I interviewed Tula Pink for Sit & Sew Radio, a Quilt Addicts Anonymous podcast, and she told me about her booth that is made from 2×4 frames and foam core board attached to it with Velcro. So … we’ll use the booth at least one more time, and then we’re totally following Tula’s example and making the entire process a whole lot easier. You can listen to that interview right here by the way.
My Aunt Carol, who has been coming with me to the last three Quilt Markets and usually is sewing binding on something I quilted the night before set-up begins, flew down. That left me and Josie, who works in the Quilt Addicts Anonymous shop with me, to drive down. Not that there would have been room for my aunt to drive with us. The back of my minivan was totally packed and everything was tied down with bungee cords to keep it in place. I joked that it was like a game of Tetris everything was so tightly wedged in.
The drive down was fun. We left before sunrise with the plan to drive at least 12 hours the first day. We had a bunch of audiobooks queued up to listen to and when we weren’t listening to that, talked the whole way. If you have every met Josie in person, you will not be surprised that she can talk for 12 hours straight.
We arrived on day two, unloaded, picked my aunt up from the airport and set up most of the booth that first day. That gave us most of the day on Friday to relax and get ready for the craziness that is Sample Spree. If you haven’t been to, or heard of Sample Spree, imagine Black Friday at Wal-Mart, but all the shoppers are quilt shop owners, employees and quilt industry professionals, and all the stuff they are buying is fabric, notions and patterns.
There is always a mad dash for the fabric manufacturers, especially Moda, where they are able to buy pre-cuts and bundles at wholesale prcies. Then they start hitting pattern designers like me. And the more people that crowd around your table, the more other people start to flock to it. It is pretty much two hours of madness. Then we all went back to the hotel for a well deserved drink.
And speaking of the hotel. One of the biggest difference between this year and last year is that I know a lot more people in the quilting industry now, and the hotel I stayed at was basically filled with the who’s who of the quilting industry. So after running into my entire publishing team and having an impromptu editorial meeting at breakfast before I brushed my teeth on the first day, I started coming down to breakfast in full makeup, hair and my outfit for the day to avoid having that embarrassing experience again.
Then Saturday is the start of the show. It started out slow for me because basically everyone who attended tried to buy sample yardage of Tula Pink’s All Stars fabric line. My aunt managed to snag two fat quarter bundles. She was not interested in sharing. So I will get to wait like everyone else for the yardage to come out in March. And I have ordered the entire line, just in case you were wondering. I love my Tula just like everyone else.
For my booth, I went with a less is more approach. I painted the walls the same deep teal that I have in my quilt shop and hung just two quilts from each wall. One quilt was draped over the corner, and the remaining quilts were hung on blanket ladders in both corners. I brought my grandmother’s sewing cabinet that I chalk painted, as well as a kitchen cart that I used in my husband and my first duplex with the tiniest kitchen you have every seen. That got painted the night before we left to match everything. And I got an awesome rug, that I need to find another use for between now and next market. I really liked the way there was space to breath and it wasn’t just quilts hanging everywhere so you can’t really tell which is which.
I also had quilts hanging in Shell Rummel’s booth, Ink & Arrow’s booth and Clothworks booth, so it was a really good representation across the show. I also felt like the collaborations helped raise me in the eyes of shop owners who may not have heard of Quilt Addicts Anonymous before. It really helps to have the endorsement of major brands who want to work with you.
We made some really great contacts with shop owners, magazine editors and fabric designers, so hopefully I’ll have some more exciting news to announce this year. And hopefully I will be better at actually announcing it on the blog in a timely manner. But I know you all really want to know about the parties … and there were some parties.
We got to attend two really awesome events, a private event hosted by Clothworks and the Aurifil Thread 10th anniversary party. First up was Clothworks, a small intimate gathering with amazing Italian food for the fabric companies employees, fabric reps and partners. Shop owners typically don’t get invited to this event, but since I’m more than a shop owner and I have designed multiple quilts using their fabrics, I got a special invite, plus some additional seats for Josie and my aunt.
The owners and staff at Clothworks are just awesome. They are really genuine people and are fabulous to work with. And stay tuned for a new project using Clothworks fabric very soon! I am super excited about it.
The Aurifil Thread party was a whole lot bigger. Since they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of bringing the thread to the United States, it was a big reason to celebrate. The guest list was filled with some really big names in the quilting industry. I was really honored to be included, even though we were joking that it was only because Alex Veronelli knows I am half Italian. My eyebrows and short stature give it away even if my last name is no longer De Pasquale.
Probably the funniest part of Market for me was tear down. Everyone who was dressed really nicely all day all of a sudden appears from the bathrooms in the grubbiest clothes they own so they can dismantle their booths in as little time as possible. Ours took less than two hours to break down, pack up and load back into the van, Tetris style. Then we celebrated with dinner at Papasito’s (you have to have to eat here if you ever go to Houston and get the fajitas) and I had a giant maragita. It was fabulous.
Loved your booth and had fun chatting at the Aurifil party! Congratulations on your first time as an exhibitor at Market!