Have you ever been to a trade show?
I have; quite a few of them. Vegas for the jewelry conventions, hermetically sealed into a vast over air-conditioned concrete building, with musical fountains performing outside and diamond dealers dealing inside. Miami for the swim show, where long-legged beauties wearing nothing but heels and skimpy bikinis wander between showrooms. New York for the kids show, London during fashion week and just this month, Paris for Maison et Objet.
The trick to trade shows is footwear. Sensible bloody footwear. Olivia, our design director, flew from Los Angeles to Paris to meet me. She is French (which helps when in France.) “Don’t forget to wear ze comfortable shoes,” she reminded me. Err yes; I’m a trade show veteran.
About four hours into our first 12-hour day, I was limping in blistered pain. Maison et Object was vast. You walked unimaginable distances, entire city blocks, just with-in those early hours. Much cleverer and very annoying people were actually whizzing about on electric scooters. Blisterless.
Everything possible was on display, from entire kitchen showrooms complete with notable chefs cooking, to tiny corner spaces with hand-knitted socks from Sweden.
Olivia and I were treasure hunting; exploring trends, discovering brands, and feeling the rhythm of global markets. Every time we paused to speak to a vendor, we would explain our business, “It’s social selling, we are not in any stores, our collection is sold by groups of girlfriends shopping together, at home.” The Europeans were amazed, mainly the French, who had never heard of this concept. The more I talked, the more excited they became, especially when we explained it normally involved good wine.
The reward for my poor feet came at the end of the day, a soak in the magnificent La Reserve bathroom, and listening to Domino and Amory’s Parisian adventures. Domino particularly had been overjoyed by her visit up the “Rifle Tower.”