It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
It's taken me a while to recap our first trade show experience, because in truth, the event turned into a saga straight out of Charles Dickens. Perhaps that's an exaggeration. My husband assures me that someday I will re-tell this story with less Tale of Two Cities drama and more Bridesmaids belly laughs. But for now, it all still feels a bit more - hmm, what's the word - 'disturbing' than that.
So here goes.
Two girls and a truck. That's how we set out. It was just my fearless assistant, Laura, and I cruising the I-15 from San Diego to Las Vegas in a U-Haul packed to the gills with Narrative's brand new statement lighting collections. We were filled with enthusiasm, road-trip munchies and the occasional tremor of terror. (For those of you who know me well, you know that driving a large truck on the highway is just about my worst nightmare. But the five car accidents responsible for this fear make for a very long story for another time!)
Ultimately, Laura and I made it to Sin City unscathed. There we met my ever-talented photographer sister, Ashley, and got the Narrative exhibit booth set up in record time. I couldn't have been more thrilled with how our display turned out. Wish I could say it all just fell into place, but in reality, my type-A side had been obsessing over every last detail for months. (Foder for a future post perhaps?) I hope you'll agree the preparation was worth it. In my humble opinion, our display portrayed just the right combination of crisp sophistication and creative whimsy that make Narrative photo décor products so unique!
So there we were, flying high on excitement and eager for the Market to commence. What are three girls in Vegas to do? Pedicures, a fancy dinner and bubbly of course! Unfortunately, with the show starting at the crack of dawn the next morning, our night on the town ended early. I was safely back at the hotel and tucking in for a good night's rest, when suddenly disaster struck. Or should I say crawled?
Yep, there it was, one little speck of creepy, crawly bed bug on the coverlet. The nasty little creature seemed to be eyeing me down, just letting me know that my dreams of a smooth, happy trade show could be wadded up in the same Kleenex that was about to crush said bug.
If I were someone else, perhaps a nighttime bed bug visit and the ensuing room-switching/suitcase pitching/clothes decontaminating chaos that ensued would not have gotten me down. But alas, in addition to my driving trepidation, I am also the proud owner of a full blown bug phobia. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well that night - or any of the remaining four nights of the trade show.
The actual Market itself was a great experience. We were blown away by positive feedback for our brand. The audience was primarily a mix of retailers and interior designers, and from those who stopped to talk with us, we were thrilled to hear an appreciation for both our products and our concept. Not to say our Market exposure was perfect. As a newbie, our booth location left a bit to be desired and traffic was slower than we'd hoped. But the kindness of fellow exhibitors and exuberant responses from Market visitors made the experience worth it. Mostly. If only it weren't for those DAMN BUGS!
I wish I could say that we left the pest trauma behind in Vegas, but unfortunately at least one little bugger caught a ride home with us in the U-Haul. (I've got the photo to prove it, but I will spare you the heebie jeebies!) This meant weeks more of washing/pitching/decontaminating before my family and I could rest easy that our home was not infected. Thankfully, the other things that followed us back from the trade show were some great partnership opportunities and orders from the contacts we made. All told, I'm optimistic that the upside of our Market adventure will far outweigh the downside. However, my enthusiasm for staying in hotels may never recover!