Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wild, Wild, West: Dallas Market Edition

One of the most comprehensive wholesale merchandise resources in the world, the Dallas Market Center hosted the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market this past week, from June 18-24, a major success in the eyes of buyers, exhibitors and media alike. Highlights from the June market included more than 20,000 gift and home décor lines from furnishings, home accents, gifts, lighting, gourmet items, textiles, holiday and more. The extraordinary depth and visual presentation of showrooms and temporary exhibitors made the easy-to-shop environment an attractive and productive space for guests.

Throughout the market, dozens of special guests and speakers also made appearances, offering demonstrations, showcases, conferences and insight into retail strategies. Headliner Jason Dorsey, a leading generational speaker, also known as the Gen Y Guy spoke to a large audience on Thursday, lending his expertise in solving tough generational challenges for companies and retail leaders present. Gen Y is the most likely generation to recommend people and services to their friends, says Dorsey. Additionally, they're the fastest growing population in the workforce. Dorsey also suggested that for the first time ever, five generations are working together, selling and marketing to five entirely different generations. Other speakers included author and star of The Bachelorette, Trista Sutter; Kellie Fitzpatrick of Portico Collection, and many more.

The Dallas Market Center also recently announced the winners of the June Total Home & Gift Market Best Visual Presentation Awards, and we could not agree more in celebrating the outstanding showroom displays. Judging for the awards takes place twice a year during the January and June markets, and here, visual design experts recognize the exhibitors with fresh, innovative and creative displays. Winners included Donald McEvoy Ltd., Park Hill Collections, LLC; McManemin Companies; CODARUS; Global Views; Primrose Collections; Button Up!; J. Mackie & Associates; Aidan Gray Home; Contempo Designs and many others.

It was no surprise that the Dallas Market Center was stirring with guests. With refreshing product launches, design introductions and more, the brands represented at the June market blended contemporary gifting and décor with traditional style. Trending throughout the market were leather and canvas goods, from up-cycled messenger bags to Dopp cases and overnight travel staples. Bohemian accents and bright, bold embroidered pillows and home pieces were woven throughout showroom displays as well. And weathered coastal and down-home décor, nautical themed gifts and many other cottage chic pieces were also on hand. Read on below for a more in-depth market trend report.

Weathered Leather
Ruggedly rustic bags are accented with rich hardware and sturdy canvas in these weathered leather accessories. In the pursuit of a weekend getaway? Canoe Bags just launched their distressed leather and calf hair overnight bag, the unique beautiful hide making it one of a kind. Gifting the man in your life? The Model A Briefcases fromW Durable Goods gifts a little piece of history. Made from deconstructed 1950's military surplus transport bags, the briefcases are each given a unique serial number. Other high-end leather product lines are making their way from Texas and accented by artisan materials. Additional Companies to Check Out: Stag Designsand White Wing Label.
Bohemian Rhapsody
Traditional Indian fabrics melded with bold, vibrant embroidered prints throughout the market showrooms. Quilts and pillows were lined with bright orange pom-poms, and meditation cushions and poufs were hand stitched with bright patterns. At Modelli Creation's temp booth, gorgeous throws and rich textiles added character, texture and color—lots of color—to the space. In Midwest-CBK's showroom, designer and illustrator Zoe Ingram's lush, playful and organic prints were featured across products. Additional Companies to Check Out: Imax Corp., Abigails, Silk Route International.
From licensed collegiate apparel to color-coordinated tailgating goods, we're smelling the smoke of a barbecue and feeling the heightened spirit of college football season. And Dallas exhibitors were on that same page. Popular as ever are tumblers, napkins and tailgating accessories that speak the language of college football fans. In the Portico Collection Showroom, Slant Collection featured their Double-Wall Mason Jars with favorite team colors, states and phrases. Also available is their Foam College Town Collection, with sayings like "I Miss Tuscaloosa" and "I Miss Columbia." Dish towels, scarves and other accessories from The Royal Standard Collectionfeatured chevron prints with college colors and phrases like "Geaux!" for LSU. Additional Companies to Check Out: The Round Top Collection and Mainstreet Collection.
Tis The Season
Another fantastic feature of June's Dallas Market is their Christmas HQ at the Holiday and Home Expo. Extravagant displays, inspirational products and red and green holiday merchandise stole the show. Burton + BURTON's Christmas showcases included everything from tree trimmings and outdoor décor to exquisitely detailed ornaments. Additional Companies to Check Out: Raz Imports, The Round Top Collection, and Zodax.
Hometown Pride
Don't mess with Texas—or any other state for that matter. Products featuring hometown symbolism, maps and sayings sparked pride among buyers, (and their media counterparts!) A favorite of ours,catstudio, showcased their highly collectable, hand-embroidered pillows with original and copyrighted art based on geographical locations. Pillows, dish towels, glasses and more pay tribute to the hometowns, states and countries you grew up in. Showcased jewelry also reflected a bit of hometown pride. Hammered bronze bangles from Chickee Boom feature states and state symbols, giving a standard stack of bracelets a deeper meaning. From Kate Winston is the American State of Mind Pillow Wrap: for every set sold, the Georgia-based company will send a care package to a deployed soldier.
Going Coastal
From anchors and whales to seaside paraphernalia, distressed coastal accents are sticking around for another season. Buyers atThe Mix Showroom got a taste of exceptional lighting fixtures from Light & Living accented with beech wood and other seaside fixes. Additional Companies to Check Out: Midwest CBK and HomArt.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The 68th Annual signature mix Marketplace was Stirring with Attendees

From Sunday, May 18 through Wednesday, May 21, New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was stirring with attendees for the 68th Annual signature mix marketplace, the nation's leading market for the social stationery industry and related lifestyle gifting. The tangible, savable, giftable pieces that were on display here bring meaning through words and design, and some of these brands are truly on the cutting edge of design. In an era of online communication and detached conversations, the stationery and greeting card industry is thriving, and you can look no further than the signature mix marketplace for proof.

Through three sections — Creative & Lifestyle Arts: tool , kits, embellishments and supplies for every creative pursuit; Gift>it: design-driven gift and lifestyle accessories, decorative objects, toys and more; and the National Stationery Show: greeting cards, invitations, paper products, and prints — the signature mix marketplace brought exciting change, including a partnership with Etsy Wholesale. It's the perfect marriage, really. Etsy represents the idea that a gift, an item, a piece of stationery becomes that much more special when establishing a relationship with the artist crafting it. The Etsy Wholesalers were sprinkled across the show floor and were some of my favorite booths.

At first glance, it was no surprise that the show was experiencing a refreshing revival, with experimental introductions, product rollouts, and beautifully designed booth layouts. The Javits Center was a buzz. In fact, the National Stationery Show experienced a 31 percent increase in attending stores for the event and featured nearly 800 exhibitors and some 11,000 attendees.

Trending throughout the show were bespoke desktop items, greeting cards with a Southern charm, Design-It-Yourself packs, travel-themed accessories and prints that are taking a cue from interior décor, elevating the home to a place of text-heavy design. Take a look back at our Market Trend Report we produced for readers following Day 1 of the show. In that report, we also mentioned a renaissance born from Pinterest and Etsy, inspiring buyers to take a step back from the modern commercialism and carefully select products with a homemade, arts-and-crafts feel.

Another incredible piece of the signature-mix-marketplace puzzle was their 18th Annual Best New Products Awards. Along with other industry specialists, we had the opportunity to judge nearly 500 exhibitor entries in various categories based on the innovation of product design or concept, how the product answers a specific industry need, the aesthetic appeal, the creative use of materials and the innovative packaging. Eight signature mix marketplace exhibitors were honored with the Best New Product Awards, and we were thrilled to take part in awarding such deserving companies.

Best of Show: Party Partners for their Mini Cake Decorating Kits — each kit made of paper, twine and wood picks, contains 5 cake toppers and mini flag bunting.

Luxury: Someday Designs. Their Gold Foil Luxury Stationery Set, available in several designs/color choices, as well as special order hand calligraphy for personalization, really impressed the judges.

All Things Wedding: Galison/Mudpuppy for their Wedding Party Photo Props, a personal favorite of mine. Keeping up with all wedding photo booth needs, these props are entertaining, adorable, and bring art into an everyday item.

Celebrations: Party Partners (again!) for their Mini Cake Decorating Kits.

Eco Chic: Thimblepress for their Eco-Friendly Push-Pop Confetti, a festive way to celebrate while being environmentally responsible. Not only is Thimblepress a letterpress studio, it's also an art studio, a woodworking studio, a sewing studio, a design studio, and anything these Jackson, Miss.-based girls want to try their hand at next.

Lifestyle: Twigg's Bindery for their In Rainbows Box Set, a dramatic façade of the box set, which captures the eye and imagination, making them an exceptional addition to any shelf.

The Desktop: Emily Ley. A personal favorite, Emily Ley's The Simplified Planner was designed by Ley to intentionally bring joy and simplicity to the lives of busy women. And does it ever.

Do It Yourself: Little B's Designer Cutting Dies allow the user to mix and match shapes and inserts to create endless possibilities, made especially for the DIY audience.

Paper Love: Pink Orchid Press for their Connect the Dots Collection — letterpress printed on fluffy cotton paper in scarlet red and midnight black inks.

These brands, products and companies all represent the heart of what the stationery industry strives for. Constantly producing fresh designs with the efficiency and functionality that consumers look for, these products embody the best of what was new this year, and from our editors' eyes to yours, we believe these are sure to fly off the shelves.

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