I always sleep hard in NY. Could be the relief that everything has fallen into place and I'm finally here, could be the fact that usually I haven't slept for the past month, could be the long day of travel,
or it could be the view from my bed makes me fall asleep with a smile on my face.
The show was great. There was a hopeful, cheerful, positive vibe about the place. Others have been describing it as a glow, or special; using words like warm and happy. Even with the rain-inside-the-convention-center drama on Monday morning.
Emergencies were responded to quickly, by those whose job it was to respond, and by neighboring exhibitors - at least in our corner of the hall and from my point of view, folks seemed to be more about pitching in and helping each other than they were standing back and freaking out or worrying only about themselves.
It actually kind of reminded me of a little scrap of paper a dear friend of mine has been carrying around with her recently:
But enough about the leaky roof. This post is about so much more than that. Because the show was so much more than that. Attendees were focused, serious, and positive - I didn't sense that underlying hesitation that many of them had in recent years. It felt a little more like "the old days" before we all started to get so jaded and distrustful - before everyone started to feel so beat-up.
It feels good to feel good again. Although those of us who kept exhibiting throughout those years have always remained hopeful (which has paid off well for many of us!) we remember those years where exhibitors would peer down the aisles like empty streets in a post-apocolyptic wasteland: fearful, hungry, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting traveler who dares tread on our show carpet only to find they are only artists walking the show and gathering information; huddled together for warmth and comfort between our booths, twitching and hollow-eyed, whispering "it's never been this slow on a Sunday (or Monday, or Tuesday) before. Isn't this usually the busy day? I'm worried..."
What, you think I'm exaggerating? Me?
Personally, I have had pretty awesome shows the last few years, I haven't been just saying that to be nice. I have signed some great new contracts after the last few shows, and have seen direct results from meetings held in my booth. But what seems significant this time around is that the mood - the air- feels different now, like we're all starting to trust each other again, like that weird desperation in the air is behind us, and actually forgotten.
I had some great meetings during the show - having that chance to sit down and chat face-t0-face with some of my favorite clients, to talk about artwork and products and what we've done and what we will do next: it's truly invigorating and inspiring. Then, of course, there are the new ones: those people you immediately feel that "click" with and know deep down that you will be able to do great things together. This is why I do this.
Walking the show aisle on the first day, I ran into one of those favorite clients who stopped me, reached deep down into a giant bag and pulled these out:
These beautifully-made nesting boxes are the result of one of those kinds of meetings at my booth just last year. The design: straight off my booth walls! They'll be in stores later this year, I'll keep you posted as to when and where! The quality and attention to detail: perfect. I couldn't be happier!
Seeing industry friends is always a highlight of Surtex. It may seem strange to others when I admit that this is often the only time I see friends from WA state (yes, we need to fix this!) but I thought it was kind of cute how my Warshington-Girls Jane Shasky and Sharyn Sowell and I coordinated so perfectly with Sharyn's beautiful artwork.
My artwork, especially what you see right here, has been truly inspired by these amazing friendships. Who knew one's heart could burst with overwhelming love, admiration, and gratitude in the middle of a stressful and expensive trade show? I think in most industries, these other people are referred to as "the competition" and not "best friends". Go figure. Again, luckiest girl in the world.
I suppose no New York trip recap is complete without mentioning the food. Although spending long days inside a trade show booth isn't really your typical New York gastronomic extravaganza (thank you Sue my dear, for saving the day with this delicious and indulgent fruit salad!).
Although I did enjoy some amazing and delicious restaurant meals during the week, usually after a long day in Javits Center, our favorite thing is to slide back into t-shirts and jeans and slip into our favorite pub for some comfort food
I love walking in New York. One of my favorite strolls of the entire year is the one back to the hotel the evening after the show ends. Suddenly I notice things I missed on the previous days: favorite buildings
or even street eyeballs.
It's a smidge inconvenient for those of us who exhibit at Surtex and also design fabric that Spring Quilt Market and Surtex seem to always bump into each other or completely overlap, but once again this year I was fortunate to get to spend an afternoon with my friends at Henry Glass Fabrics the day after Surtex ended.
We enjoyed a mouthwateringly delicious lunch, along with the talented and charming Delphine Cubitt and her lovely agent Diane Potter, followed by a (much-longer-than-I-realized) meeting and mega brainstorming session at the Henry Glass offices to discuss new projects. What fun!
The walk to and from their offices was inspiring, from the cityscapes that I always love soaking in
to the fabulous gowns in the shop windows (what do you think, can I pull it off?)
although sadly, on my way to lunch my right shoe blew apart and required an emergency gorilla-glue stop; not pretty, but it seemed to work. And on the way back to the hotel that evening, the left one blew apart even more dramatically, twirling through the air in an amazingly trapeze-like flourish (Husband Guy to the rescue: he quickly ran inside a liquor store and came back with a foot long piece of tape!). Upon closer inspection back at the hotel I saw that both soles were starting to crack as well, and I had to say goodbye to an incredibly comfortable and beloved old pair. It was just all so sudden, but they were done. Sigh.
The city was wet and muggy on the day we left, making it a little easier to say goodbye for another year
and even nicer to return home again
where my heart's desire remained, as always, here in my own back yard.