One Month to Go!!!
Yesterday I spent hours going over the vendor list at the upcoming Vegas Market looking for any new line or showroom. In other words, I wanted to uncover every diamond in the rough.
I’ve been to so many of these events over my years as a designer, and I like to think I have it down to a science.
There are a few criteria that I look for when I’m planning out my Market trip, and a set of rules that I like to follow. Let me share.
Do Look For Showrooms That Are:
Designer friendly! This is a must. My first time at Market I made the mistake of going into a few “major buyer” showrooms. They asked where my store was, and then smirked when I said I was just a designer. Awkward!
Quality. This one is a bit tricky for interior design newbies. I have a few tests that I put furniture through before I’m willing to recommend it to my clients. (I’m going to be writing more about this next week.)
Are they worth my time? Some vendors only sell one item that I might order... maybe. There are thousands of vendors in hundreds of showrooms, in three massive buildings. I don’t have the time to waste talking to sales reps that won’t help my design business in the long run.
Don’t Bother With:
Wasting time. You’re there to build relationships with companies that will make your interior design business better. Small talk and questions have their place when you’re talking to your sales rep (they all cover a specific region, so ask whom you should address your questions). If you’re honestly just browsing out of curiosity, then respect others time and move along.
Large upholstery and casegood importers. Two reasons to be wary. The quality of these mass produced imports are fine for big box stores like Target or World Market, but we are interior designers. Our clients expect high end quality to go with your high end services. Secondly, shipping is a nightmare. It’s tough enough to get furniture from North Carolina to Seattle, let alone from China. When a piece you’re importing is delayed overseas, it can mean months and months of dealing with an upset and impatient client.
Knick-Knacks, tchotchkes, knock-offs. Market is filled with shiny objects and distractions to eat up your time. But shopping is not why I’m there. I’m looking for companies that I want to work with, and that will make me money in my design business. Buying accessories as an independent interior designer isn’t smart for business.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to browse through all of the little accessories and holiday decorations on display at market, so I always save my perusing time for the end when my work is done.
I’ve learned the hard way that a little planning now will make my trip much more productive. I do my homework to find the showrooms that have the absolute most to offer me, and that fit the requirements above. (I also plan out who has the best catering and cocktails for when we’re done working.) Then I map out their location to prevent my dreaded back-tracking.
Finally, I bring my notes. I’m looking for vendors who will make my life easier, impress my clients, and help me add to my bottom line. I have questions that need answering like what is the minimum opening order, are there reordering limits, what is the average lead time, and what resources will they provide me to make ordering their products easier?
If you’re interested in visiting any of our industry markets, whether it’s with me and my group of designers, or on your own, please learn from my mistakes. There will be thousands of designers, buyers, and manufacturers, from around the world which can be extremely intimidating. If you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, it can quickly become overwhelming and a colossal waste of your time and money.
If you can make it to this Summer Market in Las Vegas and you’d like to have me as your personal tour guide, then you should join us next month. I’ll show you the ropes so you can shop like a pro. Not only will I introduce you to all of my favorite vendors, you’ll learn how to open your own wholesale accounts so you can seriously increase your income. We’re going to spend three fast paced days shopping, learning, bonding and most importantly, having a blast!!!