What I Learned at Quilt Market
So….this spring I decided NOT to have a booth at Quilt Market, and kismet – an opportunity to work in QuiltWoman.com’s booth at market sprang up! It was meant to be, right? Of course!
As a (ahem) veteran vendor of Market, I didn’t necessarily think I knew it all, but I thought I had everything fairly figured out. Life Lesson #1: You can ALWAYS learn something new. And I did. And in the spirit of paying it forward, dear fellow designers, aspiring designers, and the “maybe someday I’ll do that” folks, here’s a brief summary of what I learned this time around from working in Nancy’s booth (BTW – she is wonderful to work with – in the booth and as a distributor – just so you know).
Your images, in catalogs, in posters, on covers, need to be clear, crisp and bright. They are your shelf space and represent your pattern. So showcase that gorgeous quilt that took up so much of your life to create! Take the time to have a quality picture that highlights the quilt (i.e. most prefer a flat image of the quilt rather than a staged shot), and please, please, please – high res.
If you are offered an opportunity to present patterns – new, old, a mix – in a catalog, say yes. And do it! Create your page (or pages) to the best of your ability and highlight your patterns. Think outside yourself – if I were a shop owner, how would this page look to me? Are the patterns attractively laid out? Is the information easy to read?
Insider tip: At market, most shops gather catalogs and brochures the first day, then go back to the hotel room the first night and peruse them to make decisions. So being in the catalog is a definite plus! Well worth the money. Oops – did I not discuss costs?
You’ve heard the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” True. True. True. No free advertising. No free exposure. Everything, let me repeat, everything is a trade off. So exposure – catalog, wall space, floor space – costs. Exposure for money – there’s your trade off. So back to catalogs – that would be Exposure #1.
But……not all shops/owners want to pick up and carry around catalogs. That gets heavy. So….on to Samples and Covers.
It’s no different than your local quilt shops – samples sell patterns. I saw it time after time at market. Now, obviously you can’t have your entire line on display at market (space = $$), so choose your best sellers, or your newest designs, or maybe go with a theme. That decision is up to you, and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer here, because what a shop owner is looking for at one show can be completely different at the next show. (Sorry – my crystal ball broke at this point, and the repair shop is not optimistic on a quick repair time.)
Nancy uniquely offers two options – and I saw shop owners respond to both. She offers digital images (blown up to poster size), or actual sample display. And she offers reasonable rates for the display space. Even more exciting, she will be offering up a very unique and innovative option this fall – so check out the recent email about the community of designers at Fall Market and read every line – really. Read it all – carefully – so you can take advantage of the options that will work best for you. So choose your option; refer back to #1 for digital images – or go with actual samples. This is part of the individual “learn by trial and error” journey. Either option – Exposure #2.
- Pattern Covers
You can send Nancy up to 25 pattern covers and she will put them on a ring (grouping them to make it clear they are by a single designer). Please note the word “covers.” Yeah – I didn’t read carefully either…..but covers only. Oh – and this was new to me. You want to have the crystal clear pattern bags. I thought mine were. Nope. So my next order will be for the crystal clear bags. They really do make a difference in how crisp the cover looks through the bag (Nancy recommends G.T. Bag – crystal clear 6 x 9). Exposure #3.
Now you may be thinking – well, if I take advantage of the catalog or the samples, then I don’t need to do the pattern covers. Well, dear reader, here’s the hard cold truth. You don’t HAVE to do any of it. But the more you DO, the more exposure you’ll have. I saw some shop owners “shopping” from the catalog primarily. Others made decisions based on the samples in the booth. Some looked through the pattern covers that were on display. And still others combined all three to make purchase decisions. So is one option “the” answer? No. Ultimately you have to decide what is important to you AND how much you are willing to spend.
What I hope I have shared with you in this brief summary is that exposure is everything! If you haven’t been to Quilt Market, it is difficult to adequately explain the magnitude of it. There are 27 to 28 rows of booths, perhaps 20 to 30 vendors per row, sometimes more, sometimes less – and many small designers will rent a half booth.
So…..how many vendors? Hundreds. Maybe a thousand? Possibly. It is sensory overload. So your job is to grab some of that attention in that mad crush of fabulous eye candy and options, which is why exposure is everything! Gosh, I feel like I’ve said that before…….
Please note – these statements are my opinion and based on my observations alone, and again, are based on my experiences in QuiltWoman.com’s booth. Other veterans of Quilt Market will have different insights, and it would be worth talking with them and getting their input as well. The more information you have, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
I wish you the best of luck at your next Market!