Showing a children’s wear line

Today we have a guest entry from Bethany reporting on her experience of showing her children’s wear line at Bubble NY. She claims she can’t write but I didn’t have to edit a word. Bethany will also be at Magic if you want to meet her. Thanks Bethany!
Hi everyone, my name is Bethany and I am the President of Georgie World Inc, a surf and skate inspired line of boy’s clothing. K noticed I have been to a few trade shows and asked me to write about my experience. So here it goes:

As a children’s wear designer I have known about ENK Children’s Club and Bubble NY for a while because they are the major east coast trade shows for kids clothing. So this past July I decided to attend Bubble as an exhibitor and I snuck into Children’s Club so I could compare shows.

Bubble is a really cool small show that is about a 5 minute walk from Children’s Club. Every exhibitor tends to be a small to medium manufacturer with a higher selling price point. I decided to show at Bubble because I knew Children’s Club was a huge show and I thought I would get lost.

Turns out I was right. The Children’s Club venue is a huge cavernous space with hundreds of booths and no organization. There were cheesy christening gowns next to pajamas next to sock booths. It was ugly, confusing and overwhelming. I was shocked by the lack of structure. How hard would it be to have a section of pajamas, a section of christening gowns, a section of fancy clothing, a section for accessories, and a section for higher end boutique clothing? I asked the buyers who came to Bubble how they felt about both shows and they said ENK was a necessary evil and they much preferred Bubble.

Bubble is the antithesis of Children’s Club. It is small, bright, and relaxing. The buyers come looking for novelty and quality design. I had a blast showing my collections and meeting the store owners. I came to the show with questions in mind to ask the buyers I met about what they were looking for in regards to quality and fit, and they were thrilled to tell me what they thought. I also noticed that the booth in my section that wrote the most paper was the organic line of baby and toddler clothing. I thought the whole organic clothing trend was a myth perpetuated by the trade magazines, but I guess it is selling because that booth had more buyers then any other on my row. But I digress.

The best thing about exhibiting at Bubble is every trade magazine comes to the show and stops by every booth. My goal was to get the business card of every ‘zine, blog and newspaper that stopped by. By the time the show was over I had over 15 cards that I can use for publicity, and quite a few took photos and interviews.

As far as I can tell, there is one reason for a new brand to show at a trade show and one reason only- publicity. It costs about $1500 to run a quarter page ad in a trade magazine for one month. It cost just under 2 grand to show my line at Bubble- except at Bubble I knew everyone who stopped by my booth was interested in what I had to offer. An ad only gets to those buyers who have the time to flip through the magazine while eating their sandwich during lunch break. Plus, I got to actually talk to the people I was selling to and they wrote orders, so I ended up breaking even.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the next Children’s Club in October because it is at the exact same time as the fabric show in Los Angeles, and there is no way I am missing that show. But I will be back in March and will let you know how it goes.

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  1. Miracle says:

    A friend and I were also discussing using trade shows as a method to gain publicity. Especially if it’s a show that consumer oriented publications attend (in addition to trade publications). With low cost PR being a minimum of $500 a month, and $1000 being more common, $1500 being typical (for a PR firm’s retainer), if you got a few press mentions at a trade show, it could be totally worth the price, considering what you might have paid a PR firm to work for a few months to try and get the same amount of coverage.

  2. J C Sprowls says:

    Interesting POV, Miracle. I’ve chatted w/ Big Irv off-and-on about leveraging DE money in smarter ways. This is a good example of the “one stone” proverb.

  3. bethany says:

    Just to brag a bit and prove the point about tradeshows being about PR, I just got a little blurb in Earnshaw’s Newsblast, a trade email letter that goes to everyone on Earnshaw’s mailing list. It was directly related to my participation in Bubble.

  4. Lisa NYC says:

    Bethany…I went as Press (although I am a DE) for a children’s boutique podcast when Bubble first opened in NYC (I think it was last year). I also went to the Children’s Club show the same day. It was like night and day. The Bubble show was so well organized and the quality of items were far superior. The Children’s Club was chaos. I couldn’t wait to get out of there…LOL!

    I was planning to do my first show at Children’s Club in July 2008 (NYC Javitz Center), but am now thinking Bubble might be a better idea.

    A mention by Earnshaw is awesome!!!

    With friendship,

  5. Victoria says:

    Bethany – Congrats to you on doing the Bubble show!

    I have tracked that show – via online information – since it’s inception. The ladies behind the organization have done a great job in setting goals for the show, and even more importantly, maintaining those goals. To me, the show has more of a fine art/fine craft show feel and you have confirmed that.

    Regarding the disorganization of the larger show…Could it be a planned disorganization? I also like things grouped together, but if they grouped all the sock vendors, dress vendors, etc. together would everything start to run together and look the same?

    To simplify – Is all the jumble really a part of the marketing plan?

  6. bethany says:

    In regards to Children’s Club being disorganized as part of a marketing plan- I have no idea if it is or not. Unfortunately I am not privy to that information. But if that is their thinking, then I think they need a new strategy. If vendors in a category are all looking the same then those vendors need to design something different so they stand out from a crowd. That is the point in being a designer, no? Having organization would benefit the buyers because they could plan their trip so much more effectively.

  7. Kimberly Owen says:

    Congrats on your Bubble experience, I too have been interested in exhibiting at that show. I am a DE planning to launch a children’s wear line in early 2008. I will be attending MAGIC and would love to chat if you have a few minutes.
    Regards, Kim

  8. My wife are considering taking our newly launched children’s cardboard furniture company to Bubble but are not sure that the fashion focus of the show will bring the appropriate buyers and press.

    Please take a look at our website and our product and let me know what you think. FYI, we would launch the table/bench at the show. It is modular with the chair.

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