Business of Craft Season 3 Episode 2 Plan a Trade Show


Have you been thinking about how your fiber or fabric business can continue to adapt and thrive? Well, you’re listening to the right show because that’s our theme for Business of Craft season three…Resiliency!

Our guests today are Abby Glassenberg and Darrin Stern. Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s also a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. Darrin Stern is the Business Development Director at Koelnmesse, Inc. Darrin and Abby have partnered together to bring Koelnmesse’s successful European industry tradeshow model, h+h Cologne, to the United States this summer in h+h Americas.

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#1 Darrin, let’s start by having you tell us a little bit about the upcoming show so we have some context for the discussion about how participation in a show can help fortify your business. [2:00]

#2 Abby, I understand you’ve partnered with h+h americas to organize the educational portion of the show this year. Tell us about that program and what to expect there? [4:13]

#3 Abby, when do you anticipate that those educational opportunities will be available for folks to review and sign up for? [7:25]

#4 One of the other aspects of business I think makes a company resilient is working on the trust that develops between a vendor and a retailer in a B2B relationship and one of the best ways to nurture that is in person, right? After losing TNNA, we are all really looking forward to those in person interactions. Darrin, can you tell us a little bit about the background in the decision to start a brand new in-person trade show for the crafts in North America? [8:33]

#5 Abby, what do you think about coming back together in person for a trade show? What are you most excited about? [13:15]]

#6 Darrin, can you tell us what you see from the perspective of a show director? What do you think is the biggest value from being an exhibitor? [15:32]

#7 And how about from being a participant, Abby, there is so much to see and do at a show, how does one make the most of attendance at a show like h+h americas? [18:07]

#8 Having a strong network and people you can reach out to in a time of need is really critical to staying nimble and resilient in your business. Darrin,  what kinds of opportunities will there be for networking at the show? [23:35]

#9 Abby, You’re so well-connected in the crafts industry, what would you say to someone considering coming to the show about that benefit of attending? [27:15]

#10 Darrin, for anyone considering going to the show in June but might still have concerns about Covid, what are you offering exhibitors if they register and the show gets canceled? And can you speak to some of the safety precautions you’re putting into place for the show? [30:20]

#11 Abby, Do you have anything to add to that regarding your advice to anyone worried about attending the show while we’re still in a pandemic? What have you been telling members of your trade association Craft Industry Alliance? [34:35]

#12 Darrin, tell us a little bit about the finer details people might want to know about. Remind us of the dates, location etc. When does registration open for participants, when will hotel blocks be open, what else do folks need to know at this juncture? [36:20]

#13 And Abby, can you tell us a little more about CIA? Why would someone want to join the association and what is the cost and how do they sign up? [41:20]

Key Takeaways:

  • There really is no substitute for meeting in person when we are able to do so because of all the unexpected moments that happen when we’re together. 
  • As an exhibitor at a trade show you get to see what your competition is up to, identify an unmet need or an area to expand into; share your product with a captive audience of attendees.
  • As an attendee, you have tons of great exhibitors in one space with products you can see and touch, you can connect with vendors in person rather than just ordering online, and you get an energizing, creative boost for your own business.
  • Abby had a great list of tips for attendees to make the most of their time at the show.
    • Study in advance – Know who’s going to the show and who you want to meet with.
    • Set up meetings ahead of time – Reach out and schedule meetings ahead of time so you’re not waiting for a random moment to speak with anyone.
    • Go to networking events – Take advantage of all the opportunities to meet people in the industry. Remember it’s not always about what you know, but who you know.
    • Put notes in a notebook – Don’t trust your memory! Take notes after each encounter in a notebook, or on the back of business cards.
    • Send follow up communication after the event – Don’t let those new connections and exciting conversations go to waste, follow up!
  • Ultimately, the message is you need to forge and reforge connections whenever you can. If you feel comfortable joining in-person events, that’s great. And if you prefer to participate virtually that’s fine too. Just participate!

Additional Resources

Connect with Abby:  The Craft Industry Alliance | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | While She Naps

Connect with Darrin: h+h Americas | Facebook | Linked In | Instagram |