Ampersand Design Studio

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Category Archives: bon voyage

our big Surtex 2014 recap! 06.23.2014

Our third year of showing at Surtex is a wrap!! We can hardly believe it’s been three years for Ampersand Design Studio. In some ways it feels like it was our first year and in other ways, it’s as if we have been doing this trade show forever! From the time we first decided to show at Surtex in 2012 (full recap of 2012 here), we agreed that we’d do the show for three years to give it a real shot and see if licensing our art was going to be a viable option for our company! So, in a way, 2014 was a big year for us because we just completed this goal!

Of course, we were thrown for some loops. Getting out of town this year proved to be more difficult than planned. On our way out the door for the airport Friday morning, we got a phone call from our airline saying our flight was cancelled. You read that correctly, not delayed. Just plain cancelled….and that we could wait for another phone call to let us know when it would be rescheduled for. We did eventually get that phone call and our new flight was now set for 5pm…..with a layover…..making us miss the entire first day of set-up for the show. Complete buzz kill for us. We were so ready to just get to NYC by that point, it was really disappointing. But….we were SO thrilled when we actually got on a plane and felt like we were on our way….those are smiles of pure relief….

Then….we get to Minneapolis and our flight is delayed again!! ahhh. Then…….we land in NYC (finally) and we had planned on catching a cab, but due to flash flooding, everything was backed up. We waited in the taxi line for over an hour. It seriously felt like we would never get to our hotel. With Carrie still nursing, and therefore pumping for this entire trip, and Morgan being 7 months pregnant, needless to say, we were just beyond ready to be in our hotel room. Alas, we made it and got just a couple of hours of sleep before heading to the Javits Center Saturday morning for a day of setting up our booth.

For those of you unfamiliar with Surtex, here is our empty booth with all the boxes that we have shipped across the country and then lugged into the convention center.  After several hours, mostly of Carrie doing the heavy-lifting this year (thank you, Carrie for taking care of your pregnant business partner!),  we got the banners hung, the signage up, the portfolio books displayed and the samples of our work out on shelves!!  Whew! Many months are spent prepping for the trip, so when the booth is complete, it always feels like we can finally breathe again.

And TA_DA….the booth is complete! Much friendlier and MUCH more colorful than before :)

SIDE NOTE: We wanted to include a few resources for anyone else doing considering doing the show now that we have done our research and learned from our mistakes! This year we got our banners printed at Uprinting (by recommendation from our dear friend, and fellow Surtexee, Josephine Kimberling). In the past years, we’ve had major color issues with our banners and had to reprint them, sometimes more than once. So we were thrilled with the quality and color from Uprinting. We highly recommend them! We make postcards to send out to hopefully give a little teaser and a reason to stop by our booth. We have gotten those printed at Vistaprint all three years and have been completely happy with them (and they’re fast for those of us that sometimes run a bit behind). And lastly, we use UPS to ship our precious cargo halfway across the country to our NYC hotel and (knock on wood) everything has always arrived on time and in great condition!

Surtex is three days long, Sunday through Tuesday, from 9-6pm. Here we are feeling all alive and ready to take on the world the morning of the first day! We tried out a new aisle this year, the newly made #200 aisle and we were booth #235. We’re not quite sure how we feel about that aisle yet. It was the closest one to the National Stationery Show (NSS), but it also seemed as if there was less traffic in that row over all. Some parts of the show were overwhelmingly busy for us….and then other parts of the day, not so much.

So, everyone always wants to know, “How was the show?”. And the fact is, with Surtex, we never really know much immediately following. We talked to some amazing people and companies that we would LOVE to partner with. Made some really great contacts. We have high hopes for lots of things, but all the details of which pieces of artwork, existing or new, and timeline, and details of each individual contract are all worked out in the weeks and months following the show. So far in our first two years, Surtex has been worth it for us and we feel very lucky for that!

As far as this year, we will let you know a year from now! ha!

After the show each day, we try to get out and see and do as much as possible in NYC! We celebrated our booth setup with some street tacos and fresh juices at Tacombi at Fonda Nolita (and yes, there is a VW bus in the middle of the restaurant-what’s not to love about that?), We were lucky enough to get invited to the opening of the Alexander Girard pop-up exhibit by a friend which was just incredible, we did some last minute work at the Ace Hotel bar and of course, hit up the photo booth (see below), and after the last day of the show, we had a half day to do some exploring and even squeezed in a bit of shopping (see the “hey” entrance to the Kate Spade Saturday Soho store above). Each and every time we got to New York, we dream up ways of being able to live there. It’s just one of our favorite places on earth. Although living there doesn’t seem possible at this point, we’re pretty glad we get to go once a year, at least!

Coming off our third year, we feel like we have a bit of Surtex experience under our belt. So, we thought we’d share just a few tips for those of you that are considering going this route for your business:

1. Do your research. Walk the show first. Study what Surtex booths look like. Read other artists blogs about their journey to Surtex. Join a community of people who show at Surtex. Look into licensing coaches or websites where you can watch tutorials or receive emails. In general, the more information, the better!

2. Make a back-up calendar. There are SO many things to do for the show besides creating lots of great artwork to license! Start with the date of the show and go backwards setting mini-deadlines for yourself for each week. We have been using a 14 week calendar, but it would be ideal to start sooner than that. When marking deadlines for yourself, keep in mind things like making an announcement on social media, designing and mailing out postcards and/or designing and producing giveaways for your booth, updating your website with current info, designing your actual booth walls and anything else that might be on display, researching and printing all of the booth materials including banners and/or samples of your work, making travel plans including a place to stay and plane tickets if necessary, checking dates to order your furniture for the booth, and of course, setting a date to have your booth supplies shipped (if necessary). There are a LOT of things to keep track of, so lots of deadlines along the way are so helpful.

3. Be yourself. please, please, just do you. There are hundreds and hundreds of other artists showing their work. There is no need for you to look like anyone else. Sometimes, we feel like its best to be naive in this way. Don’t look at what other artists are creating. It’s wonderful to be on top of trends and understanding why types of pieces companies are looking for. But make your artwork your own!! That’s the best way to stand out.

4. Don’t overlook anyone. One thing we have learned is that just because someone stops by your booth and you don’t recognize the company name, that does not mean it is not worth your time. In addition, what is a good fit for your work, might not be a good fit for someone else. So no need to compare what companies your friends have talked to. Some of our best partnerships have come from companies that we originally had never heard of!

We wish all artists the best of luck if you decide to go the Surtex route!! We hope to see each and everyone one get matched up with the perfect companies!

Lastly, the other thing we get asked the most is, “Are you going back to Surtex next year?”. And for that, we don’t necessarily know. It is a huge investment for a tiny company like ours. Three years was our goal and we just completed that. We have a lot of really exciting things happening for Ampersand right now and  we have set some big goals and new directions for our company in the next couple of years!!!

As for the future…..we will all just have to wait and see.

Just in case you are so inclined,  read our full Surtex 2012 recap here, and read our Surtex 2013 recap here.

  1. Olivia

    Oh my goodness, the trip to NYC sounds agonizing!! So glad you finally made it. I didn’t realize Morgan was pregnant – congrats!!

    June 24, 2014 5:22 pm
  2. ampersand

    Oh thank you so much, Olivia :)

    June 24, 2014 5:42 pm
  3. Rachel

    It was great meeting you ladies. You are as adorable and sweet in person as you are on your blog. Hope the show was a huge hit for you.

    June 26, 2014 8:09 pm
  4. Rosie Martinez-Dekker

    Great post, thanks for sharing and for the tips.
    Loved you booth and wish you lots of luck !
    R-

    June 26, 2014 9:34 pm
  5. Joy Laforme

    It was so great to meet you both at Surtex! What an exhausting bit to get there, but I hope it ends up being well worth it!

    June 30, 2014 7:21 pm

we’re headed to Alt Summit! 01.23.2013

We’re on our way to Alt Summit!! Hope to see many of you there, and for those who are not on their way, we promise to take lots of pictures and give a full update on the way back! If you ARE headed there, make sure to stop by our “Going Into Business with Friends” talk on Friday morning at 9am!

PS–Follow our entire trip with us on instagram!!! Here’s a link to Carrie’s and here’s a link to Morgan’s!

comments 2

  1. Ashley Fine

    Enjoy! Can’t wait to hear all about it:) My dream is to go one of these days!!!

    January 23, 2013 6:32 pm
  2. Jessica

    great blog. this alt summit thing looked awesome wish I could’ve gone.

    January 31, 2013 7:44 pm

on my mind: a day in the mountains 06.06.2012

As Morgan said, summer vacation and getting away from our hectic schedules is front of mind for both of us, and in my case it will be a reality before long. We aren’t hitting the beach though; we’re heading to the mountains. So, I thought I’d share my wishlist for the trip. The only thing that didn’t make the cut here is a hiking backpack/ baby carrier. I’m not sure which one to get for toting around our guy on our (not-so-challenging) hikes.

links: 1. Camp Pop-over in navy stripe  2. The Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made the Radio  3. Women’s Baby Fringe Scarf in Blue Sky  4. Sunland Rancher 5. WT10 Minimus Trail Leather Shoes 6. Chai Spice Handcrafted Granola

comments 3

  1. rachel

    Just wanted to say hi ladies! So fun to work next to you this past weekend. Keep up the lovely work.

    June 6, 2012 2:05 pm
  2. Ashlie

    I was just asking my family yesterday if they wanted to meet for a mountain vacation next month! I hope it works out – I could use a relaxing vacation, too! Enjoy yours!

    June 6, 2012 3:26 pm
  3. carrie

    rachel! we loved working next to you, too! thanks for saying hi!

    ashlie! thank you! i hope your mountain vacay happens. it’s so good to get away especially to the relaxing scenery. fingers crossed for you.

    June 7, 2012 5:32 am

Surtex 2012: the big recap 05.29.2012

Well, we have made it back alive from our debut showing at Surtex 2012!! It was quite a whirlwind and seemed to fly by way too quickly, but we wanted to just pause for a moment before we get back into the full swing of things and recap our little adventure in NYC! We’ll start with our quick summary in case you’d like to forgo the rest of this long post. Overall, we’re really happy with our first showing! We talked to so many companies that we have dreamed of partnering with and then ended up meeting and discovering all new companies that we would’ve never been exposed to without this show. Lots of people have been asking us, “So, how was Surtex?” and we really don’t have a quick answer because the truth is, the actual show is just the beginning of conversations. The talks and possible contracts (fingers crossed) are things that will happen over the next many months, possibly even over the entire year! So, we think it went great, but we will keep you all posted on what (hopefully) exciting things come of it as time goes on!

Ok, onto our little recap. So we headed out a few days before the show started to get settled and have sufficient time to set up our booth. Surtex takes place in the Javits Convention Center and it is just HUGE! We walked all of our banners and books of patterns to the convention center as soon as we got into town and we immediately got busy setting up. Thanks to many dear friends who helped us plan our booth, things went relatively smoothly. We had our banners printed and made with pole pockets that we used to insert yard sticks and “S” hooks to hang on our booth wall. (Below: Morgan prepping the banners for hanging)

We had a corner booth so we had two walls to fill with pattern goodness. One one wall we did three large panels of patterns and on the other wall we used one of our patterns as wallpaper and put up a sort of gallery wall of some other works. We used metal clamps and this awesome neon duct tape that we ran across. And as if we didn’t have enough color going on, we decided to tag our booth pole with every color of neon tape that we had!

So our booth went from the above picture to the below picture!!! It totally felt like our own little home away from home. We felt perfectly content sitting in our crazy pattern world!

So clearly it was time to celebrate!

And then the big day was finally here!! Surtex runs for three days from 9am to 6pm. Never fear, we made sure to be well-caffeinated for each day.

(Above: Carrie looking all cute in our booth!)

Check this out! One of our favorite visitors was this cool duo that came upstairs from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (going on at the same time as Surtex on the bottom level) just to walk around. We chatted for a bit, they recommended some great places for brunch, picked up our business cards–and voila! One of our business cards suddenly turned into a pretty rad fashion accessory!

We squeezed in as much time as we could to hang out with friends, but really, next year, we are most definitely padding our trip with additional time because we didn’t get to see everyone and we also didn’t get to play in the city as much as we’d like! But for those we did get to hang out with, thank you for making the time and the trips in to see us!!!! You guys were the treat after long days in a trade show! You know who you are :)

And, just like that, it was all over! Until next year, Surtex!

 

comments 13

  1. Heather

    the booth looked AMAZING!!! awesome job, ladies. congrats!

    May 29, 2012 10:14 pm
  2. carly {carlyklock}

    You ladies rocked that booth! You made it look like you’re seasoned pros – it was so polished.

    Phew, I’m exhausted just reading that post. ;)

    May 29, 2012 10:35 pm
  3. laura parke

    LOVED the recap, ladies!!! i can’t wait to see what comes of the show. a yearly NYC trip is definitely that is if i don’t pick up & move there! ha!

    May 29, 2012 10:37 pm
  4. admin

    oh thanks, ladies!!! it really was a crazy busy trip, but we squeezed a lot of fun in there, too :) glad you like the booth!
    An annual NYC trip is on the calendar…done and done! :)

    May 30, 2012 2:30 am
  5. Dariela

    Thanks for the recap! I am glad it went well and it is exciting to see all your process since we are on out way there and we also work together but we are remote. You guys are such an inspiration!

    May 30, 2012 5:22 am
  6. jing

    Yay! Congrats on the amazing booth and all of the hard work. It looked beautiful. :) You two are so inspiring!

    May 30, 2012 11:33 pm
  7. ampersand

    Dariela and Jing!
    Thank you so much for the kind words. We are flattered!

    May 31, 2012 2:35 am
  8. Mary Jo Hoffman

    Hi Carrie and Morgan,
    Thanks for the great summary. I am the gal from Minnesota who introduced herself. I will probably see you at Surtex next year :-)
    Love you blog!
    Mary Jo

    May 31, 2012 5:39 pm
  9. Melissa Ybarra

    Your booth was so very well done…complete eyecandy!! You’re work is fantastic and it all came together so very well! Excited to see what’s next for you lovelies!

    June 5, 2012 2:58 pm
  10. Joy Hall

    Enjoyed reading your recap and so glad you had a great first show!

    June 6, 2012 10:09 am
  11. Jeanee

    Booth looked awesome!!!

    June 17, 2012 10:00 pm
  12. Helen

    Loved reading your blog! Reminds me so much of the days when I traveled to Surtex to look and buy — but so proud of you two doing it on your own!! You are two talented ladies!

    September 10, 2012 1:40 am
    • ampersand

      Thanks, Helen! We appreciate your sweet words!

      September 10, 2012 1:42 am

Alt Summit Round-up 01.23.2012

>

 (here we are with our good friends and roomies, Tobe of Because It’s Awesome and Laura of A Girl Who Makes)

Hello there, friends! We hope you had a great weekend. We’re back from Alt Summit! As you can see, we had tons of fun meeting new friends and putting faces with names for others we’d only connected with virtually before. There were so many inspiring people there and the whole mood was one of sharing ideas and advice! We are just filled to the brim with inspiration for our creative business and many great thoughts for how we can make the blog better for you, our readers! Sooo, we have some exciting new things planned (one in particular that we can’t wait to share soon!!! We hope you’ll love it.) More than anything, we realized that what’s most important to us is building more of a community here and getting to know all of you better (yes, you….and you,….and you, too)!

For both of us, perhaps our favorite part was hearing Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest, talk about How Pinterest Became the Next Game Changer. He was so well-spoken and humble and above all, INSPIRING. If you follow us on twitter, you may have seen a few of his quotes that we tweeted last week, but here is a little collection of noteworthy thoughts from Ben that we thought you would enjoy:
“Be close to the people that inspire you.” (For him this meant moving to be near Google and Apple and the minds that are making things happen in the technology world)
“If you don’t bet on yourself, no one else will.”
“Collections say so much about who you are.” (one of his motivations for starting Pinterest)
“If it’s not beautiful, the rest won’t matter.” (in discussing the process of designing the look of the Pinterest grid.)
“Move Fast and Break Things *except data *and hearts.” (Pinterest Motto)
Another wonderful speaker was Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project. 

A few of her many words of wisdom:
The circular idea that there are 2 parts to happiness: one is making other people happy and the other is being happy yourself makes other people happy. 
“Cram your life with the things you love.” (then you don’t have room for the things you don’t!)
We are SO excited for all the fun things we have planned! We hope you all come along on the ride with us :)
PS–we’ll share many more photos with so many friends, new and old, on facebook as we get them all compiled!
(Thanks to Method & Smilebooth and Rue La La for the fun photobooth pics!)


comments 9

  1. Michelle

    >Cute pics :) So glad to have met you fun girls!!

    January 23, 2012 6:47 pm
  2. Josephine

    >LOVE!! SO wish I was able to go too, and see you girls. Can't WAIT to hear more about the Summit, and to see what new things you've got in store for your blog! YAY!!!!!

    January 23, 2012 10:37 pm
  3. Drew {Coral Cafe}

    >What great advice!!
    So glad to see you both had such a great time and an inspirational experience!

    Looking forward to your surprises!!

    January 24, 2012 1:46 am
  4. Uncle Beefy

    >Morgan & Carrie! It was SO nice to meet both of you! Take care and be in touch! xo Uncle Beefy

    January 24, 2012 3:08 am
  5. Jeanee

    >CUTE!

    January 24, 2012 4:44 pm
  6. Ampersand Design Studio

    >Michelle! Ditto! We are so ready for our Thai date!

    January 24, 2012 6:54 pm
  7. Ampersand Design Studio

    >Yes, Josephine, you have to go with us next year. You, too, Jeanee! It was such a good experience.

    January 24, 2012 6:56 pm
  8. Ampersand Design Studio

    >Thanks, Drew!!

    January 24, 2012 6:59 pm
  9. Ampersand Design Studio

    >Uncle Beefy! We loved meeting you! Our little dinner group Wednesday was such a good one! We will definitely be in touch!

    January 24, 2012 7:01 pm