It's been about a week since our plane touched down in Providence, our return flight from our very first live—post covid, gift show. And not just any show, the Atlanta Market. Lucky for me ( the socially anxious type) I had no idea how big this show was, or what we had actually signed up for. It's hard to image if you've never experienced it. But to give a little idea, three buildings filled to the gills with showroom after showroom with brands huge, to brands small. Sales reps, exhibitors and buyers coursing through the spaces trying to see all there is to see. Our location? A small 5 foot section of space within a showroom on the 15th floor of building two. Yep. Walking into this experience blew the lid off of my expectations, and the feeling of imposter syndrome came into quick and clear focus. ( think, oh shit... what did we do... )
This may sound like a doomsday post, but actually—it was a completely amazing experience and I can say that - only in hindsight. We met those previously known only as email addresses or as zoom faces, but also new friends everywhere we turned. We may be technically in the stationery and gift business, but we are in the personal connection business. And really, it's not a business at al—it's the most important part of life.
These moments, when we are meeting new people, telling them our story, and conversely asking theirs, is where Nicole shines. She has a talent for connecting with people in a way that I could never attempt to achieve. She literally would not leave our space, not even for a quick snack, in fear that she may miss the chance to talk with someone. I, on the other hand, struggle in this arena... I needed to leave our space, walk the show anonymously for a bit, to maintain my nerves and composure. Make our little space look good? I'm your girl. Organize things and keep things straight, I'm on it. I even did a mid show re-design after some amazing feedback we were given. But talk to people about our stuff - poking me with a hot iron would be more enjoyable. Honestly, my anxiety was so high after day one, I was searching return home flights at 5:30 am the next morning.
Thankfully, I was able to push through, utilizing some skills I've learned from my amazing therapist. By 10:00 am that morning, I was feeling back to normal, I was back at it, happy to be there, being the best support to Nicole I could. And here's the thing, I actually—despite my anxiety, started to have fun. And, I may have even sold a few things along the way!
The very best part of the show was making new friends. After standing on very tired feet in the same exact space next to fellow vendors for a few days, a true camaraderie develops. These folks were our life lines—I'm looking at you Taylor, Odette, Rick, Victoria, Brooks, Kathryn, LaNell, Hannah. Nicole and I both cannot wait to meet again at the next show we do, whether it's in Atlanta, Vegas or Dallas.
We got to meet our southeast sales reps (in person!) who are in the field selling our line day in and day out. We talked, we listened, and we learned A LOT.
All in all, we ended up having a very successful show, in all the arenas we value: personal connection, friendship, sales, inspiration.
So, take aways from the Atlanta show:
1. Nicole was made to do this. We are truly ying and yang, the best partnership you could have. There is nobody I could partner with that could be any better.
2. We are a genuine fake-it-until-you-make-it team. We walked into the Atlanta show green as can be, but we not only survived, we thrived.
3. Connection is everywhere, if you are open to it. The last friends we made were on the MARTA en route to the airport. We still had our badges on from the show and starting chatting as we waited for the train (hello www.shishinteriors.com)
4. If you are in Atlanta, seek out the restaurant Amore e Amore. The people, the food, the atmosphere, everything about the experience was one of a kind amazing. Not going to say more, you'll just have to check it out for yourself.
5. When you do what you love, it's not work. Man, Nik and I are lucky to do what we do.
Until next time Atlanta~