Launch report: Butterfly & Company

Today we have a report from Carol Pulitzer who owns Butterfly and Company on her launch at a new tradeshow called MOM2B. Here’s a blurb on the show:

MOM2B Trade Show fills the gap in one of the hottest and fastest growing industries today: Maternity. According to the New York Times (6/8/2006), maternity wear saw a 28% increase in sales between 2000-2005, whereas the overall woman’s clothing market showed a mere 2% increase during the same period of time. This trade-only show is the first one of its kind, giving a direct platform for designers and manufacturers to showcase their wares to potential buyers from across the country and around the globe.

I’m a brand newbie who launched at my first trade show in downtown L.A. called MOM2B, for maternity and kids wear. My line is tees for moms to be. I didn’t know that tee shirts have a built in schlock factor and many stores said they “don’t buy tee shirts”. Tee shirts with sayings -like my line- are doubly repugnant to retailers. Still, I did have the good fortune to have my booth photographed by Allure Magazine and I was interviewed by a guy who I thought was just a local hired by the trade show people for general hype. I had fun with him and thought nothing of it until I saw him at the end of the day and asked who he worked for. When he said he was doing a piece for NPR’s Marketplace I freaked! First of all I love that show, second I probably made an entire fool of myself, and third if I had realized this would be national free promotion I would have said many other things.

It was quite a learning experience being a vendor. There are a lot of competitors out there who are both kind and generous; there are a very few who are decidedly not. In most cases, buyers don’t write orders at the show but sift through material and order at a later date. These are all things you readers already know. I didn’t take any orders at the show but plan to be better prepared next time. I noticed a lot of online start ups too. I think for young mothers having an online store is appealing as a way to work from home in an area they’re immersed in as mothers themselves. Since the show is new, there weren’t many buyers there (fewer than 250) and with 135 exhibitors, the exhibitor to buyer ratio wasn’t very good.

Great trade show booths with good graphics is what pulled in people. Products like jeans, dresses, leggings, and baby accoutrements (swaddling blankets) were selling. A company called Swaddle Designs did great business the whole show. Their line is very clean and coordinated with dots and circles and good colors. Their booth was very professional, “built”, clean and white, with lovely enlarged photos. My booth was next to Bella Band, the innovative band for converting regular jeans and pants into maternity. They also did non-stop business having a unique product, they were lovely ladies if elusive cookie snatchers. Paris Blues also did good business in their maternity denim line.

On my front table I had a big glass bell jar filled with my Polka Dot Cookies©, tiny, one-bite, chocolate sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting in between. Because it’s always been food and art for me, I combined the two by putting this cookie recipe on my hangtags. Here’s some pictures of my hangtags (you can also email me for the recipe for the Polka Dot Cookies).

When I did lure someone in with a cookie, then showed them the hangtag connection, they would enter my booth, feel my fabric (92 cotton/ 8 spandex) (30/single), and finally read what was on the shirts, look at the illustrations. Then the response was great but what an ordeal to pull them in! Next time I will have large, striking graphic photos of babies and pregnant moms wearing smiles and my gear. My problem is that my website is minimal at this point, just my line sheets scanned in. Before my next show, I’ll be sure to have my website ready to go.There will also be video podcasts on my website showing how to handle the tricky dough.

The next MOM2B show will be held at the Las Vegas Hilton March 3-4, 2008

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  1. Vesta says:

    Thanks for the story, Carol. We have noticed, after a couple of shows, that accounts we picked up at previous shows come back and write orders at the shows, and add colors/lines. So there’s definitely a cumulative effect when you get rolling with shows.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I think the cookie recipe idea is cute. Maybe some of you think it’s hokey but my brain works like that.

    Several years ago, I visited one of my DE’s booth at a show, she wasn’t there but the rep was. Her line was called something related to growing things. I suggested to her rep that it would be *perfect* for her, if she used seed packets as hang tags (sunflowers to plant smiles etc). The rep was horrified and said not to tell her, it would increase costs. Later I found out that she started using seed packages as hang tags and she was so proud of her rep’s great idea. All I could do was laugh.

  3. /anne... says:

    Can’t remember who did it, but I once bought some clothing with chunky cardboard (looked like handmade) tags with wattle seeds embedded in the tag. Wattles (at least in most parts of Australia) are _very_ easy to grow.

  4. darcy says:

    great t-shirts…very innovative, fun and hip.

    thanks for sharing carol! first off, i’m dying to try one of your famous polka dot cookies and secondly, thanks for the insite. as a newbie i feel as though i already have a leg up.

    can i get your help w/ my hangtags?!!!

  5. Jennie Lynn Johanson says:

    Keep up the hard work. Remember a trade show is an excellent opportunity to meet and greet with stores and establish a relationship. It’s not what you write at a show, it’s what comes out of it.

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