Friday, January 31, 2014

Top 10 Trends observed at The Buyers Market of American Craft

Steven Cooper
1. Big bags rule, especially bags sized amply to fit tablets and laptops and bags with convertible, long cross-body straps. And often, there is a "mini-me" bag to go with it - so you can stash the big one and go with the coordinating mini when you need to. It's a world where bags have their own bags. 

2. Leather cuffs for men and women with cool hardware. Very sexy and youthful. One designer says she was pleasantly surprised that in addition to younger shoppers, many of her retail customers are women in their 50s! These are structured pieces, but still casual and hip -- not like the leather hippie bracelets of the past.
Mad Art Studios

3. In the animal kingdom, birds of many feathers flock to the forefront, but among 20-somethings the sleepy-eyed sloth is a new "it" creature - and a sly alternative to the wise owl. Among the water creatures, whales and crabs join the many varieties of tropical fish that are popular in design motifs. 

4. "Downton Abbey" has influenced fashion: for a couple years, the Princess's fascinators were hot, but here, we saw contemporary, decorated cloche and brimmed hats taking inspiration from ( and named after ) characters of the popular public television series. 

Mr Sogs Creatures
5. Victorian influences in jewelry, everywhere. We saw a lot of painted and/or enameled jewelry in vintage reproduction styles as well as contemporary styles. 

6. Colors that pop - from Pantone's orchids and to eye-popping shades of blue. Indigo Blue is emerging. Post-recession return to color accents. But also saw lovely products that fit the incoming trend of neutrals that move when you're ready to move. 

7. In artisan-made plush and even decorated pottery -- the monster toy has comfortably moved into the nursery, with huggable, baby versions of whimsical and edgy toys and décor objects. The under-35 crowd that has fanned the monster trend is now entering the realm of parenthood.

8. Big trend: Recycled/upcycled continues to embrace luxury. It's a nod to the realities of producing from sourced recycled goods, but also it's a signal of the continuing mastery of the materials and techniques by the artisan/designer who can achieve a level of sophistication and refinement of products for upscale homes. In many cases, you can no longer look at a product tagged "recycled" and discern the origin of the materials. In other words, it may look like ceramic tile, but it may be made of recycled fiber. It may look like a ribbon bag, but it may be made of seatbelts saved from car scrap yards. Saw this again and again.
G3 Studios

9. In glass, many artists and designers show bold color and design and statement pieces - very large. Some of this is display technique to catch the eye of passing buyers in the aisles, but some are the showpieces designed for a certain type of collector and the home/corporate/decorator marketplace, these pieces are coveted. The same companies often are offering a scaled down or miniature version of the design for more affordable home décor and accents.

10. Young children's products are re-emerging in the wholesale handmade market. Some of this springs from parents' demand for organic products and baby-safe manufacturing. Many makers got out of this business or amended their practices when a set of U.S. regulations related to lead/chemical content were first introduced earlier in this decade, increasing the makers' costs. The smallest makers (handcraft) were not using unsafe materials but felt they could not afford the fees of meeting the federal requirements. It took some time, but there are more signs now of rebound and new products.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NICHE Magazine Announces Award Winners

Black Bird Teapot Eileen Braun
NICHE magazine, the exclusive trade publication for retailers of American-made and Canadian-made crafts, announces the winners of the 2014 NICHE Awards competition. The awards were presented at a ceremony on Saturday, January 18, 2014, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, held in conjunction with the Buyers Market of American Craft.
A complete list of finalists will be available at

Burnt Offering Hermioni Judy Stone
For 25 years, the NICHE Awards have recognized excellence and innovation in North American fine craft. There are two divisions participants can compete: professional and student. Competitors are evaluated on three criteria: technical excellence in surface design and form; market viability; and original and creative thought. In the professional division, jurors selected 35 winners out of 174 finalists; the student division, jurors selected 14 winners out of 85 finalists.

Intimate Norleen Nosri
The professional division was judged by: Michael Higdon, Museum Shop Manager at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.; Dana Singer, former Executive Director of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG); Erin Fergusson, Senior Manager of Merchandising at UncommonGoods, an online marketplace, headquartered in New York, offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise; and Stan and Judy Gillis, owners of The Real Mother Goose in Portland, Ore., featuring the Pacific Northwest's largest collection of fine American craft.

Yellow Scribble Stool Kimberly Winkie
NICHE magazine also honors the artistic achievements of students enrolled in North American undergraduate, graduate and certificate arts programs with its NICHE Student Awards competition. Winners are determined by the editors of NICHE magazine as well as staff members of the Buyers Market of American Craft.
Protection Constraint Demetra Theofanous

“Everyone who participated in this year’s NICHE Awards demonstrated what has made this show so incredible,” says show director Rebecca Mercado. “It’s just proof why every year this show sets a new standard. We are very proud of our winners, and look forward to what they will come up with next.”

Applications for the 2015 NICHE Awards will be available in Spring 2014. For more information or to obtain images of work by both winners and finalists, visit

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Emerald Completes Acquisition of GLM

Emerald Expositions, Inc. (Emerald) and George Little Management, LLC (GLM) announced today that Emerald has completed the acquisition of GLM from Providence Equity Partners (Providence) for $335 million.  The purchase price, including transaction expenses, was funded by $200 million of debt and a $140 million equity investment from Onex Partners III.  Emerald was acquired by Onex Partners III in June 2013.
GLM creates face-to-face buying, selling and networking platforms for designers, product developers, manufacturers, retailers and operators through more than 20 leading tradeshows including four of the largest 100 trade shows in the U.S. GLM's tradeshows serve industries as diverse as home furnishings, home textiles, stationery and paper products, giftware, tabletop, gourmet housewares, contemporary furniture and interiors, personal care, art & design, antiques & jewelry, fashion, board sports & resort lifestyle, and e-commerce. GLM has approximately 130 employees and operates out of six U.S. offices.

Giftware News' January Digital Issue is Now Available

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Atlanta January 2014 Market Reaches New Highs

Grumpy Cat meets Giftware News Associate Editor Claire Johnson
When the January 2014 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market closing bell sounded at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the show had posted huge gains across all measures, with national and international attendance and first-to-market buyer totals leading a litany of advances.

On-site actual registrations for the eight-day market showed healthy year-over-year gains with increases as high as 53 percent posted on key attendance days. Preliminary hotel occupancy results reports indicated an increase in the average length of stay per attendee to 42 days, the highest recorded since 2006.

Growth posted in all national regions beyond the show’s principal Southeast base-including the Midwest and Far West-plus international beyond the Americas delivered global buying power to exhibitors across all product categories in showrooms and trade show booths.

The Market’s first-time buyer total-a measure of new buyers having not attended any previous Atlanta market-saw high double-digit increases. Meanwhile, reports from exhibitors throughout the Market, across showrooms and trade show booths, echoed strong sales-more orders, larger orders, from new and returning accounts.

Powering momentum throughout the Market was the new AmericasMart App, which made its debut to rave reviews and, according to iTunes, was among the 10 most popular apps in all business-to-business categories.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New AmericasMart App Enhances Unprecedented Market Experience

AmericasMart Atlanta has unveiled a revolutionary mobile market app designed to give its customers optimum connectivity with maximum functionality in a technology advance unmatched in size and scale by any wholesale marketplace, according to Jeffrey L. Portman, Sr., president and chief operating officer. The app is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

The introduction follows more than two years of research, design and development to create a digital environment scaled to the unique needs and demands of buyers and sellers doing business daily, and across the 14 annual markets staged within AmericasMart’s expansive 7.1 million-square-foot campus. 

The new AmericasMart mobile app delivers a greatly enhanced customer experience by making it easier for buyers to discover and explore new and existing exhibitors, categories, lines and products and to make note of Market events and promotions. It allows buyers to browse exhibitors by floor map or in a list, and enables them to record favorite lines and categories, and to plan, organize and manage Market details to optimize their AmericasMart visit. Functionality enhancements will emerge over the next 12 months as the mobile app expands in scope and scale. 

Key functionality of the free app includes: 

• Comprehensive search tool encompassing exhibitors, product lines, categories, events and services
• Enhanced exhibitor digital showrooms with logos, descriptions, product lines, categories, images, services and contact information including social media links
• Dynamic floor plans allowing buyers to easily navigate the campus, floor by floor

Another addition is a built-in augmented reality scanner, which allows buyers to easily connect to exhibitor information, pinpoint their location on campus, and add exhibitors and events from on-campus printed materials and signage to their Market Plan scheduling tool. 

The new the mobile app, in tandem with the enhanced AmericasMart Atlanta website and free Wi-Fi throughout the campus, means that buyers and exhibitors are now more connected than ever. They will benefit from an enhanced online experience at,which also features expanded exhibitor profiles, searchable content, new floor plans, and Market Plan accounts.