What I Learned at Quilt Market
Soâ€¦.this spring I decided NOT to have a booth at Quilt Market, and kismet – an opportunity to work in QuiltWoman.comâ€™s booth at market sprang up! Â It was meant to be, right? Â Of course!
As a (ahem) veteran vendor of Market, I didnâ€™t necessarily think I knew it all, but I thought I had everything fairly figured out. Â Life Lesson #1: You can ALWAYS learn something new. Â And I did. Â And in the spirit of paying it forward, dear fellow designers, aspiring designers, and the â€œmaybe someday Iâ€™ll do thatâ€ folks, hereâ€™s a brief summary of what I learned this time around from working in Nancyâ€™s booth (BTW – she is wonderful to work with – in the booth and as a distributor – just so you know).
- Â Images
Your images, in catalogs, in posters, on covers, need to be clear, crisp and bright. Â They are your shelf space and represent your pattern. Â So showcase that gorgeous quilt that took up so much of your life to create! Â 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. Â And do it! Â Create your page (or pages) to the best of your ability and highlight your patterns. Â Think outside yourself – if I were a shop owner, how would this page look to me? Â Are the patterns attractively laid out? Â Is the information easy to read?
Insider tip: Â 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. Â So being in the catalog is a definite plus! Â Well worth the money. Â Oops – did I not discuss costs?
Youâ€™ve heard the expression â€œthereâ€™s no such thing as a free lunch.â€ Â True. Â True. Â True. Â No free advertising. Â No free exposure. Â Everything, let me repeat, everything is a trade off. Â So exposure – catalog, wall space, floor space – costs. Â Exposure for money – thereâ€™s your trade off. Â So back to catalogs – that would be Exposure #1.
Butâ€¦â€¦not all shops/owners want to pick up and carry around catalogs. Â That gets heavy. Â Soâ€¦.on to Samples and Covers.
Itâ€™s no different than your local quilt shops – samples sell patterns. Â I saw it time after time at market. Â Now, obviously you canâ€™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. Â That decision is up to you, and there isnâ€™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. Â (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. Â She offers digital images (blown up to poster size), or actual sample display. Â And she offers reasonable rates for the display space. Â 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. Â Read it all – carefully – so you can take advantage of the options that will work best for you. Â So choose your option; refer back to #1 for digital images – or go with actual samples. Â This is part of the individual â€œlearn by trial and errorâ€ journey. Â Either option – Exposure #2.
- Â 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). Â Please note the word â€œcovers.â€ Â Yeah – I didnâ€™t read carefully eitherâ€¦..but covers only. Â Oh – and this was new to me. Â You want to have the crystal clear pattern bags. Â I thought mine were. Â Nope. Â So my next order will be for the crystal clear bags. Â They really do make a difference in how crisp the cover looks through the bag (Nancy recommends G.T. Bag â€“ crystal clear 6 x 9). Â Exposure #3.
Now you may be thinking – well, if I take advantage of the catalog or the samples, then I donâ€™t need to do the pattern covers. Â Well, dear reader, hereâ€™s the hard cold truth. Â You donâ€™t HAVE to do any of it. Â But the more you DO, the more exposure youâ€™ll have. Â I saw some shop owners â€œshoppingâ€ from the catalog primarily. Â Others made decisions based on the samples in the booth. Â Some looked through the pattern covers that were on display. Â And still others combined all three to make purchase decisions. Â So is one option â€œtheâ€ answer?Â No.Â 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 havenâ€™t been to Quilt Market, it is difficult to adequately explain the magnitude of it. Â 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.
Soâ€¦..how many vendors? Â Hundreds. Â Maybe a thousand? Â Possibly. Â It is sensory overload. Â 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! Â Gosh, I feel like Iâ€™ve said that beforeâ€¦â€¦.
Please note – these statements are my opinion and based on my observations alone, and again, are based on my experiences in QuiltWoman.comâ€™s booth. Â Other veterans of Quilt Market will have different insights, and it would be worth talking with them and getting their input as well. Â 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!