While at the NY NOW show this past summer, I stumbled across a booth called Stitchwallah. I was immediately drawn into the booth for two reasons: the name, which seemed to pay homage to Mumbai’s Parsi community; and the beautiful Orrisi Ikat and Rajasthani block prints on display!
Hilary Niederer, founder of Stitchwallah, was most welcoming and we hit it off immediately. Based in Mumbai, India, Stitchwallah sources fabrics, accessories, footwear, jewellery, trims and home decor items from throughout India for retailers, wholesales and costume departments globally. As a veteran trade show exhibitor in Europe and the USA, she was kind enough to share some of her tips and insights.
AG: As trade shows can be a big investment, what are some of the benefits of exhibiting such venues?
HN: It’s a great opportunity to meet people and stores who are looking for a specific product. People go to trade shows looking for specific products which might be otherwise be difficult to find online. It’s also a great opportunity for people to see and examine the textiles, versus online where this is always a slight variation in colour.
AG: How would you define a successful trade show?
HN: Orders! Orders! Orders! It is also a great way to meet people from a business or retailer that I’ve admired for a long time.
AG: As there seem to be a variety of trade shows out there, how do you choose which ones would be beneficial for you?
HN: My products fall under the home decor category and so I exhibit at trade shows that include that category. Each year I go back with the same products but with new designs.
AG: They say one has to attend a trade show at least three times before one gets noticed, is that a fair statement?
HN: Every show is different with a different crowd. There are often a few returning customers, which is always lovely and it’s a good opportunity to meet new people and customers too.
AG: Any advice for a first time exhibitor?
HN: I exhibit on a very tight budget and so don’t utilize any of the trade show marketing options, which adds additional expenses to a show. The booth much look inviting. Make it look interesting. In the quiet moments, avoid the temptation to sit there looking bored – keep busy!
HN: I personally find the smaller markets fun and they are also a great way to pass on old stock and end of lines. I’ve done the fabulous Melrose Trading Post located on the Fairfax High School campus in West Hollywood many times and it is great fun!
For additional tips on how to make the most of a trade show or holiday market, check out: 5 Ways to Make Your Trade Show Profitable and Sustainable.