As I stepped off the plane after a grueling day of travel, a little part of me was thinking, WHY did I leave home in the first place?! Waking up at 3 am, eating in the airport, catching the boogers of the sneezing child did not exactly add up to the best of days. Now I'm wading through the laundry and the mail, the unpacking, the restless night and coughing (yes, I caught her cold).
But the pictures are up/downloading as we speak, I already got a UPS shipment notification, and as I look out the window on this grey February day, I am reminded how nice it was to get away. To see blue skies, go out without a jacket, see the trees in bloom. How nice to come home, too, which is probably the best of both worlds.
I'm looking forward to coming back to the shop, to settling back in amongst the lovelies we've gathered, even as I enjoyed leaving town and winter, checking out the San Francisco sights and shops.
This was our first time attending the San Francisco Gift Show. It is smaller than the New York Gift Show and we weren't really sure what to expect. I was a little apprehensive, but it seems like everyone goes to the New York Gift Show so we thought it would be good for variety. I think the proportion of good to crap was probably about the same as any other show, which meant less crap to wade through, pardon my French. Seriously? When I go to these gift shows, I am always blown away by how much STUFF there is in the world. If you can imagine, all the notecards, windchimes, fountains, journals, baskets and whatever else, all the products that you've ever seen - from cute little gift shops to JoAnn's or Walgreen's, that is what we walk down aisles and aisles of. I was terribly remiss in taking pictures while at the show, though Sachi and I both agreed that the CHA show (Craft & Hobby Association) that we attend in Los Angeles/Anaheim is more inspiring in terms of merchandising and crafty inspiration.
Nonetheless, we had a good and inspiring show. We wrote lots of orders, found new vendors, reconnected with existing artists. It is always a pleasure to find the small artisans amongst the mass producers and importers. I know, you might be wondering why we even look for small artisans in such a setting - why not go to art/craft fairs or etsy? well, that approach has its limits too, as many small artisans in that setting are not prepared for wholesaling.
In the next couple months, product will be arriving: plenty of paper products including journals and notecards, stationery sets, necklaces and earrings, Hello Kitty charms and other Japanese cuteness, rubber stamps, ornaments, washi tape, and more. I particularly enjoyed a lovely booth - I guess there's no other way to describe it except that it had a terrarium feel: a combination of glass and rock and greens. We also found several new jewelry artists, which will diversify our collection.
Sachi did a great job finding us a place to stay. We grew up sleeping in tents and on couches/floors when traveling so I don't expect luxury, but it was nice to have a lovely spot to retreat to after a day of working and touring the city. I was quite jealous of the kitchen floor.
Of course, the other big component of the trip is just being in a new environment, checking out what West Coast retailers are up to, getting the inspiration of a new setting. We enjoyed visits to indie shops like Lavish and Urban Bazaar and Needles and Pens. It's always fun to see products we've ordered in big city shops. And, I must admit that I'm pleased with the shop that we've created - I think we hold our own. The modern aesthetic seems rather minimalist to me, and I don't fully understand how some of these shops even have enough inventory on hand to cover their costs. But we all know that I prefer a fuller store. That said, if anyone ever complains about how full our store is, I now have something to compare it to - a store that probably had twice as much inventory literally heaped in about the same square footage. I know people who get overwhelmed when they come in our shop, but that's nothing compared to that one.
I'm still kind of obsessed with succulents, and the terrarium bar at Ubran Bazaar was enviable, not to mention the many succulents planted in yards wherever we went. It was interesting to me on this trip to see how some of the elements that have come up for me in Pinterest repeated themselves in terms of products and inspirations. A person would like to think they are being original and innovative, but am I just following the trends that everyone else is, which were set by Pantone or someone like that? Or do we just choose what we want to see, or interpret, as a "trend" ? I mean, I'm looking at succulents and rocks on Pinterest, but not everyone is.
It was definitely nice to get away and the weather cooperated beautifully. In fact, I think some of our days were warmer than some of our L.A. days last year. The flowers were in bloom, we even grabbed a few hours at the beach. For the "rainy season," the weather was remarkably nice. My memory of our first trip to San Francisco was nothing but gray skies and just a peek of the bridge through the fog but our days were much clearer this time around.
In all, now that the exhaustion of the return trip is fading, a lovely time was had by all! Now we just have to wait for the new arrivals.