Two weeks ago Colleen and I went to Atlanta to see something I’d only heard her talk about before but never seen – the Atlanta AmericasMart Gift and Home Furnishings Market. If you’re not familiar with it, let me break it down: the Atlanta AmericasMart is three large buildings in the heart of downtown Atlanta that house both permanent and temporary showrooms of some of the biggest international suppliers of consumer goods, including rugs, apparel, gift and home furnishings, accents and decor. It is huge in not just size but in industry scope and people come from all over the world to buy the home and apparel products you see in large national chains as well as those in your local gift boutique.
Colleen went last year and came back with loads of inspiration, sore feet and most importantly, great contacts in the home decor industry. The first time she went it was with a friend of ours who owns a furniture store and she went on a whim to see what the show was about. At the last minute we quickly threw together a tear sheet of some of our products for her to take and show to a few exhibitors. We didn’t expect anything but the response and feedback was incredible. She was offered two licensing deals on the spot!
At that time we had been considering licensing and researching how it could help grow our brand as well as our profits. There is not a lot of information readily available however for our particular niche, both print and decor. Many artists license their art successfully and you’ll see their artwork used on everything from iphone covers to shower curtains, but we feel we offer something different – a mix of print and home accents which work well together and wanted the opportunities to license both.
So we did our homework, researched to find the right manufacturers and companies we thought would be a good fit and started building collections of our products in a catalogue to show prospective licensing companies. We also used the time to continue to build our brand, test market new products, revamp our website and go full throttle with social media marketing. The months were well spent as our sales and online presence has grown exponentially.
Back to the show… Colleen told me about how massive the show was but until I saw it for myself, I don’t think I could really fathom the size. The largest building of the AmericasMart is 18 floors and every floor is larger than the mall we have here in Wilmington! There are hundreds of exhibitors, both permanent and temporary, large and small and at times it felt like I was walking through a maze – a really awesome maze packed full of fantastic products. My advice: comfortable shoes, Advil and water – and use the escalators, the elevators take too long. Plus download the AmericasMart app, it made finding particular showrooms a breeze.
We hit the showrooms we knew we wanted to target, as well as ones that piqued our interest, with our new catalog of unique collections and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Not only were people helpful and friendly, but they were honestly impressed by our designs and drive to find the right fit for our products. We got such an enthusiastic response from so many companies that we know we can be selective about who we license with and plan on pursing companies that are excited about our brand.
Because of our hectic schedules we only had two days we could really spend in Atlanta, not enough time to see everything, but we packed in as much as we could in two marathon days. I think seeing the coming trends in home decor would have been invaluable to us in itself but having leaders in the industry gushing over our designs was pretty darn amazing!!!! Our impromptu 2 day trade show brought us a little closer to our dreams and all the while getting plenty of exercise… according to Colleen’s Fitbit we walked 18.4 miles, felt like 500 …
PS. If you’re interested in licensing opportunities with The Project Cottage, click over to our Licensing page for more information.