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Hi everyone! I'm back with the third installment of this NSS re-cap series. It's been fun putting our experience into words and photos and hearing back from those of you who have been following along. Today we'll go over what can be a scary aspect of exhibiting, the budget! Don't let the numbers intimidate you too much though. Keep in mind that this show is an investment and may be some of the best marketing dollars you'll spend. Hopefully you'll leave with much more than simply marketing, but as mentioned in parts ONE and TWO you can't come in expecting to make it all back in one show. If you do, then awesome!

In lieu of writing out another word-heavy post like part TWO I decided to put the data into a little infographic complete with pie chart (I've always wanted to make one and have never needed to) alongside the overall budget percentages and what those represent. I've heard that first time exhibitors spend anywhere from $7k- $12k their first year. I've gathered this from webinars from the TradeShow Camp along with talking to other exhibitors. Well, how much did you guys spend you ask? Let's just say we fell somewhere in the middle, toward the lower end. 

Some other things to keep in mind as you process the info below:

1. We travelled to the show from California, so we had to account for flights for two people and accommodations. We crashed with a friend for a few nights during setup, but then stayed in a hotel for the actual show, hence the hotel for 4 nights. If you're driving in or staying with friends or family the entire time, your percentages may be vastly different from ours when it comes to travel and lodging.

2. This chart does NOT take into consideration the costs to produce your products and samples for the show. That can be a huge chunk, especially due to minimums if you outsource, so keep that all in mind when it comes to your total spending.

3. We "rented" foam walls from a third party company and had them installed. In terms of dollar signs, this falls squarely in the middle with two dollar signs, $$. You'll pay much more to rent their hardwood walls, $$$. If you are able to arrange for your own foam walls or use lightweight coverings you're looking at spending less, $. Keep in mind you'll have to install your wall coverings or boards if you don't elect to use a third party and there are those crazy union labor rules. Another option is to build your own walls, which is an initial investment that can be re-used in the long run, but you'll have to ship them (or drive them in) so you should expect to see your shipping percentage increase quite a bit. The only items we shipped were our floor tiles (heavy box), our shelves (long box), and then a few USPS boxes (priority mail) of booth supplies, tools, and some heavier marketing items like catalogs and press kits.

4. Since we showed both of our brands at our very first tradeshow, sass&peril and The Paper Cub Co., we had two catalogs, two sets of business cards, and two set of vinyl signs. This increased our marketing materials percentage a bit.

Ok, I think that is enough explaining! I hope this chart will be useful for you and give you a real picture of what goes into these types of shows from a financial standpoint. I will be back next week with the fourth and final installment covering our final thoughts on the show and if we met our goals and expectations. 



I am back today with Part TWO of our NSS coverage. I’ll be sharing our experiences during the show itself so make sure you go check out Part ONE if you haven’t yet. Get ready...it’s about to get wordy! 

The show officially runs Sunday-Tuesday from 9-6 and on Wednesday from 9-12. I assume it starts on a Sunday to include a weekend day for those who cannot make it during the week? From what we had heard, many non-corporate retailers and smaller shops walked the show on Sunday, and more corporate shops or bigger shops come on the weekdays. Before I get into the breakdown of each day, let me first say that prior to the show we sent out pre-show mailers to shops and bloggers inviting them to visit our booth and check out the line. 

We ended up mailing out around 135 of these to various levels of retailers and a few of our favorite bloggers and media. Not only does this let them know where you’ll be at the show and gives them a glimpse of your line, but it allows them to do some research on your products and brand prior to the show. I had mine digitally printed so I could showcase photos of the products, and then I screenprinted a polka dot design in mint and a "hello" script in black. The entire spread was scored to z-fold down to an A2 size so that it looked like a greeting card. You want to be sure to capture the recipient's attention and show what you do, but forst and foremost include your booth number and contact info.


Sunday morning was off to a bit of a slow start and then out of nowhere buyers and members of the media began to fill up the aisles. Our first few visitors to the booth happened to be recipients of our pre-show mailers! We could tell that they had done their homework because many of them were ready to write orders right away once they had an opportunity to see and feel our products. So why go all the way to New York if they were planning on ordering anyway you ask? Sure, buyers could just view a PDF of your collection online and place an order, but the reason we as exhibitors and they as attendees travel to the show is to have not only face time and to market yourself, but for products to be touched and seen in person. It really makes a difference especially with items that involve screenprinting, letterpress, and embellishments. Plus it shows you’re legit and professional enough to take such a huge step. A few questions that many buyers had for us were the following:

• What is your opening order amount?

• What is your turnaround?

• Where are you based out of?

We found it helpful to be prepared for such questions and more. It is also helpful to have a pitch ready as many times those buyers walking in were not on your mailing list and/or may have not heard of you before. We definitely gave them space to look around but always greeted them and let them know what printing methods we use (screenprinting) as this set us apart from other brands at the show. Some buyers are chatty, some are not. Some just want to look and take your card, some look and want a catalog, some will sit and write orders. I found that you can’t be offended if they look and walk away because many come back the next day! This is a HUGE show with hundreds of booths and if it felt massive to me, it must be overwhelming to buyers. I noticed many people making lists and then going back to those booths they jotted down once they walked the entire show. If they don’t come back or walk by without stopping in your booth then you can’t dwell on it. Not every shop is going to be a good fit. And your goal should be to establish accounts that you can continue to work with, not just taking one order. Also keep in mind shops have a budget and limited shelf space. And who is to say they won’t place an order with you after the show? Give them a card or a catalog and stay positive and open-minded. Another thing we kept in mind as first time exhibitors is that some shops are wary of taking on newer lines and instead they opt for brands that have been at the show before. It’s nothing personal, it is a business and they may not want to risk an order with a brand that may not be around the following year. We found it helpful that we were also showing not only The Paper Cub Co., our greetings line, but also our gift line, sass&peril, because we have been wholesaling those products for a few years now. So we were new to the show, but not new to wholesaling. There is no magic number for the amount of orders you should write at the show. As a first timer you may not, and probably won’t, make your investment back at the show itself so keep that in mind as you set your budget. The real work begins after the show, making sure to follow up on leads, continuing to market yourself, and first and foremost attending to your accounts you established at the show. Eventually, those numbers start to even out as you grow. There is a reason that brands continue to do this show every year, right? At some point you start to recoup those expenses.

Going back to the topic of questions, there will always be some questions that you just were not prepared for. We got a lot of licensing inquires for sass&peril, and honestly, I didn’t really have a solid answer prepared in that moment. Best thing to do is take a business card and follow up after the show that way you have time to think and discuss these types of things. Another point of hesitation for us was boxed sets for our TPC cards. This was something we had thought about but didn’t have a structure in place for. But hey, it is a great opportunity to get opinions of people who run shops and have first hand experience of buying them! Take advantage of their knowledge, being respectful of their time, of course.

Sunday went well overall, being the first day of our first ever tradeshow I’d say it was a smashing success! We started off a bit nervous but as the hours passed and we talked and wrote orders more we were able to shake that off. It was fun talking about our line, I mean why not!? We were proud of what we did and were happy to share it with visitors to our booth. Many were shocked that it was our first year, which we took as a huge compliment. I owe that to being prepared and doing the proper research prior to the show. (And TSBC!) 

Monday and Tuesday were a blur. A good blur, but exhausting nonetheless. These days were jam packed with not only buyers (that's Ami and Liz from Mac & Murphy and Danni from Oh, Hello Friend above), but also bloggers, suppliers, and even prospective exhibitors and students walking the show. We did the bulk of our order writing on these two days. I heard from some exhibitors that Tuesday was slow for them, but I think it is because the crowds made their way from one section of booths to another each day. These must have been the days that these crowds occupied our section of the show! There were some lulls as most of the attendees came in waves, picture 5-10 people in your booth all at once, then none. On that note, I am glad that Cesar was as adept at taking orders as I was because we both were filling our order forms with different buyers simultaneously at one point. Over these two days we got orders, media coverage, licensing inquiries, requests for info from some big box stores, connected with fellow printers and designers, and much more. Exactly why we were at the show to begin with! Check out Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper and Kelly from Studio DIY doing their thing below :)

To say we were utterly wiped after each day of the show would be an understatement. I am so glad we chose to stay in a hotel within walking distance of Javits during the show because all we wanted to do was go back to our room, put our feet up, and relax. At least until we got our second wind and went adventuring, mainly to find food and libations :) The hotel was not cheap, this is NYC people, but we figured we’d be saving on transportation to and from our friend’s place in Brooklyn. Also it is nice to have a quiet, private place to unwind after each day. We booked it through the show managment so I'd like to think we got a deal. It was so worth it, really.

Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of attending a get together hosted by Etsy and also the Paper Party hosted by Oh So Beautiful Paper! That was a fun night just networking, letting loose, and hanging out with our new paper pals :)

Wednesday was the last day at the show, which was from 9-12 Noon, just a mere 3 hours worth of show time. It sounds odd, but there are last minute catalog and business card grabs for those who didn’t have enough time to fully see your booth and collections. Plus you never know who might walk in 10 minutes until noon. You've got to be on your A-game during those short hours!

Tear down begins promptly at noon, and boy do those booths come down faster than they were put up! It is quite hilarious. For the most part everyone is exhausted, looking forward to getting home, and ready to start fulfilling those orders! I think we were done at around 2:30, but that is also due in part to not having any walls to ship back. If you ship your own walls or use a crate you've got to stick around and wait until the Javits workers bring it to your booth. So with suitcases stuffed, we dropped off some of our boxes to the Fed Ex kiosk that we needed to ship back home, then we were off to the airport. Just like that!

Part THREE will be coming up next with the financial breakdown of the show and a few thoughts on budgeting. I’ll also discuss our goals going into the show and if we met them. I hope you’re enjoying this series of posts! If you have any questions or comments on things I covered or didn't cover, feel free to leave them below.



I'm taking a short break from printing (ok, truth is I actually ran out of paper) so I wanted to dive into my coverage from NSS! I know many of you are wondering how it all went down so I decided to spread the knowledge and do a series of posts from my experience at the show. I've even given it a handy-dandy little tag so you can pull up all the posts at once when I am done. 

So here we go!

Part ONE will cover our arrival, some shots from around NYC, and our booth images, along with a few points on getting here and setting up. My goal is that I will be able to shed some light on our experience as first time exhibitors. You might hear me mention this a lot but without a doubt the Tradeshow Bootcamp courses were instrumental in our success at this show. I highly recommend signing up for their webinar series, which should roll around again in the Fall. If you are looking to get into tradeshows, I cannot recommend their services enough!

We arrived in NYC on a Wednesday before the show, which ran Sunday-Wednesday. This gave us plenty of time to get acclimated, explore the city with friends, and have some time to get all of our ducks in a row before the set up days. I've been to NYC a handful of times so I didn't take as many pictures of sights and scenes as I did in years past, but we always make it a point to visit Central Park. It is so breathtaking and feels like you are miles from the city, when in fact you are smack dab in the middle of it! This year the weather actually was on our side and we enjoyed California-like temps as we walked through the park.

We had been walking for a bit so we decided to stop and have a rest on a little grassy patch near the lake, it was so peaceful! I even managed to get somewhat close to a mama bird sitting on her nest in a nearby tree.

We literally just laid on the grass and I nearly fell asleep when we heard a bit of a commotion down by the water. Apparently, a couple that rented a row boat had flipped their's over and were just floating in the water!

The odd thing is they were in the water for what seemed like 20 minutes and weren't trying to get into other people's boats and no one was really trying to get them out. I assumed they were trying to recover their belongings from the lake? Well, then out of nowhere a cop in a boat came speeding toward them, full on row team style, and then a helicopter appeared, and ambulances and fire trucks came...it was nuts! The funniest part was while the boat cop was rowing toward the scene another cop on land was suiting up in a full wetsuit tied to a line and he flew into the water and started speed swimming toward the people in the water. I honestly couldn't believe that these people who were just sitting there bobbing in the water for 20 minutes had caused such a commotion! Other boaters were paddling by and taking pics of them and they weren't yelling for help or anything like that. People who had just walked up were asking us what happened and really it was nothing! Or so we thought. We found out from someone a little later walking away from the lake area that the man they "rescued" was naked!? Weird. So there was that moment of peace and then the craziness of the city reminded us where we were! Ah...New York.

It was nice to enjoy a couple days of hanging out with friends in Brooklyn and Manhattan before setup day for the show, which was Friday for us. We chose not to have a crate or palette shipped, but instead we opted to ship a few boxes to our friend's place and then take advantage of our checked bags for free deal with Jet Blue. Since we went with pre-installed walls, we didn't really need to worry with freight, but wrangling all those boxes and suitcases and getting them to the Javits Center definitely took a bit of planning.

When you arrive, if you did not arrange to have walls installed by a third party company like we did above, you walk into a space outfitted with pipe and drape, that's it! It is up to you to build it out and decorate it as you see fit. So now you can see how much work goes into all those incredible booths! We opted to use a company called Manny Stone for our walls. They do all the foamcore and some of the hardwood walls for this show. Our walls were 1/2" thick flame resistant foam core walls in white that they installed for us. As you can see they were up when we arrived with our stuff. Done! As a first time exhibitor this felt like the right choice for us. They are not cheap, but it was one less thing for us to worry about. I definitely see the advantages of building your own hardwood walls that you can re-use, you just have to ship them, install them yourself, and be good with measuring as you are essentially putting a box inside of a box. Oh, and you must build them so you won't need power tools to install them at Javits, not an easy task. A note on installation at the Javits Center, they use union labor so the list of things you as a non-union worker are not allowed to do far out lists the number of tasks you are allowed do. We were not allowed to hammer, stand on ladders or chairs of any kind, and we could not use any power tools. They are crazy about enforcing this stuff so we took heed, although we did stand on a chair to clip on our lights and even this was risky! If they catch you they could invoice you for the work they would have done had you hired them. Yikes!


Once we pieced together our faux wood floors (from company Soft Tiles that were a savior on our feet from standing for 3.5 days) we started hanging our shelving. We had purchased them, cut them to size, clear coated them, and attached the brackets at home before we shipped them out to NY. Again, the more you can do ahead of time, especially when it involves power tools, the better. We had tested this shelving setup using a store-bought piece of 1/2" thick foamcore and a couple of shelves under different types of lighting environments (think heat from the lamps) so we knew what type of screws we'd need for them to be secure in our walls. We essentially screwed them into the foam and they stayed put! Keep in mind, we only had lightweight cards on them. Obviously heavier items may cause the shelves to be less stable. I created a diagram on the computer of how I wanted everything in the booth to look and where I wanted it to go, and then I forgot it! No one will know but you so you have to just press on.

It is also helpful to have help! Cesar and I greatly appreciated the assistance from our friend Mike. He also let us crash at his apartment for a few nights prior to the show, and offered to let us ship packages to his place in advance. Also, helpful...ship a box of tools and hardware. Our level came in quite handy when installing the shelves. Pack all types of adhesives and attachment hardware. One of our rails for our tea towels was so much heavier than we anticipated so we had to use copious amounts of velcro and adhesives to help it stay up! There is a Home Depot on 23rd, but each little trip takes time and cab fare so the more you plan in advance and have on you, the better. Also, your neighbors will probably be amazing folks like ours were (shout out to Parrott Design, Letter and Lark, and ThimblePress!) and they'll help you out with things you might have forgotten or lend a helping hand. It is an incredibly amazing community. In terms of lighting, we were under the "low ceiling area" so with the lights being closer to our booth we opted for clamp on lights that we outfitted with halogen flood bulbs. There are a plethora of lighting options out there and Javits offers many to rent for the show, but they come with a hefty price tag. It is up to you, your budget, and your design, but overall I'm pretty happy with how the lighting turned out and we didn't spend a ton. Again, being under the lower ceiling helped us in the lighting department. See Cesar putting together that Ikea cabinet? We put together a wish-list from Ikea and had the furniture we wanted for our booth bought and delivered to Javits for us. We got together with a few exhibitors prior to the show to organize the service, and we were all able to split the delivery fee saving time and money. Another bonus of Tradeshow Bootcamp, the private Facebook group where you can converse with other exhibitors!

So all in all, we spent the two full days allotted for setup getting our booth together and completed, and we needed every bit of that time to complete our booth vision. I thought we could finish in a day, but give yourself time as there will always be issues you didn't expect. One of our issues was that the laborers did not run our power cord behind our foam walls so it was just sticking out in our booth, not pretty. We had to have a separate outlet configured right behind the top mid section of our booth and since the walls were already up, we were stuck with that cord all during the show. You can see it in the photo below although we tried to conceal it as best we could, but what are you going to do? Some things are just out of your control. Main lesson learned on that note is be flexible and roll with it.

I leave you with some images of the finished booth with both our brands on display and all ready for visitors on day one of the show! We are pretty pleased with how it all turned out :)

I love that panorama shot Cesar got on his phone, mine's a 4 and is not that fancy ;)

Coming up in Part TWO of this series will be our experience at the actual show itself and more. Part THREE I will dive into the financial cost of the show and a breakdown of how our money was spent.

Thanks for following along thus far and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!


Back In The Studio!

May 25, 2013

Howdy folks! We are officially back from The National Stationery Show and boy are we wiped BUT tomorrow we will be at the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana! The event is from 11-5 and is located at 2nd and Sycamore. We are at booth #25 right on 2nd street near the Grand Central Art Center. We will have a boat load of sass&peril items on sale and on clearance as we are cleaning up the studio and phasing out some items. This is the only show we have planned for the Spring/Summer as we work to fulfill orders from the Stationery Show so come on down and say hi or you'll have to wait until the Holiday shows.

Also, I am planning a big post from NSS, but in the meantime here are some pics from the show from both my Instagrams @sassandperil and @thepapercub. It's so crazy how long it takes to setup and how quickly it is to tear it all down! It was such an amazingly great show and I met so many new paper pals that I miss already! 


Oh, and lastly and most importantly....Cesar and I got engaged....in NYC! Pretty awesome trip I'd say :)



Just a head's up, we'll be taking off on Wednesday the 15th for The National Stationery Show in NYC! With that being said, all orders placed while we are away will ship when we get back to our studio on the 23rd. If you have any questions on an order placed during this time, feel free to use the contact form to reach out to us. Please note we will be working with a bit of a delayed response since we'll be at the show all day. Thanks so much. I can't wait to share our experiences when we get back from the show! 


Today I am happy to share some products that were selected as finalists for Best New Product at the National Stationery Show! We're gearing up to exhibit for the first time so this is a huge honor! From our sass&peril collection, our Pirate Kitty One-Piece was nominated under the "Eco-Chic" category and our Red Fox Pillow was nominated under "Lifestyle". On top of those nods, THREE of our cards were selected from The Paper Cub Co.! In the "Paper Love" category our Color Mix Thank You card got picked, and then our Love Ring card for "All Things Wedding" and our Piñata card for "Celebrations". These products will be on display at the front before the press and buyers enter the show floor, so they can peruse the finalists and mark down our booth number to see the rest of the collection. Pretty cool! 

If you're attending the show, be sure to swing by booth #2169 and say hi!


I've just added our Father's Day cards to The Paper Cub shop! These cards are hand-screenprinted on recycled paper and are blank inside. Fill them with your heart-felt or funny message and they will be sure to make your Father, husband, or a new dad smile.

And don't forget about Mom! Mother's Day is May 12th, but we will get your card in the mail lightning fast so you should still have time to buy one for her, too. 


Spring Cleaning Sale!

April 30, 2013

Oh boy, we've just added a slew of items to the SALE section of the site! I feel like one of those crazy car salesmen, "we've lost our mind, stop us from offering these enormous savings!" hehe...but seriously. There are some crazy good items for 50% off. We've still got a few screenprinted animal pillows left and now you can also pick up our hand-screenprinted 100% organic cotton kid's tees for just $12! Wha-what! Go ahead and check out the sale items for yourself, but you've got to act quick as the supplies are very limited. 


Mother's Day Cards

April 23, 2013

If you're looking for our Mother's Day cards you can find them right over here in our new card shop, The Paper Cub Co. We've re-freshed a few designs from last year and introduced a brand new "Best Mom Ever" design complete with a lovely navy and mint palette. Moms love getting cards, and May 12th is creeping up, so go on and make her day with a hand-screenprinted card complete with your words :)


Hi folks! We've just launched a brand new series of screenprints that I'm super excited to share with you today! These geometric animal prints are 12.5" x 12.5" square and fit nicely inside standard record/LP frames. We actually got our handmade frame used in the photos from Etsy seller Signed and Numbered. They have such a nice assortment of colors, borders, and finishing styles to choose from. As with all of our screenprints, these are limited in numbers, with just 50 prints per design. They've been uniquely designed and screenprinted and would make a stylish addition to your home or nursery. You may purchase them right here in our shop or over on Etsy!

BONUS! To celebrate the launch, we are offering 15% off of these new prints! Use the code "SQUARE15" at checkout.

*This discount is good until 04/30/13 and is valid for any print in our Square Series Collection, ie. the Dog/Turtle/Fox/Owl as pictured above*


Red Fox on Revenge!

April 12, 2013

Many of you have written to me on social media to say that you spotted our Red Fox on ABC's Revenge, thank you! I finally got a chance to see the episode(s) and get some snaps myself. That's SIX prime time TV shows now. I'm honored and flattered and still it feels a bit bizarre to see the prints with actors and actresses on shows watched by millions. I'm also grateful to you guys for noticing the appearances and taking the time to write me and let me know! Oh, and just in case you were wondering, these screenshots are from Season 2, Episode 17 entitled "Victory".

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. We'll be having a mini photoshoot for our kids and baby garments. Should be a fun time and I look forward to sharing the images with you.


NSS 2013

April 09, 2013

Well, I think it is officially time to announce that we will exhibiting at The National Stationery Show next month in NYC! We will be showing both sass&peril and our new greeting card line The Paper Cub Co. We'll be at booth #2169 and we absolutely cannot wait! If things have been a bit quiet on this blog it is for that very reason as we have been working away designing a 78 piece collection for The Paper Cub and getting products re-launched and new and improved for sass&peril. If you are a buyer or member of the press we invite you to come and check us out and let us walk you through our collections. Also, if you would like to receive one of our pre-show mailers and we have not contacted your shop already please send us your information to hello {at} thepapercub.com.

NYC here we come!