You may know George White as president and COO of Up With Paper and UWP Luxe — these are fantastic, award-winning houses of pop-up cards renowned for their complex engineering and beautiful rendered artwork. But I invited George here because he's also president of The Greeting Card Association, and to say that organization has had a crazy year is a huge understatement. It fell to George to help navigate us through it.
The GCA was to hold the second edition of Noted: the greeting card expo in San Francisco on May 1; the event was to encompass the LOUIE Awards, which recognizes stellar design in greeting cards each year, as well as the Noted @ *Noted Product Awards, which I actually sponsored under The Paper Chronicles banner.
As you can imagine, COVID-19 threw a wrench in all those plans … and I had a front-row seat to see how everything was reconfigured as it unfolded in real time. Now, getting anything done by committee can be super-difficult, and I was in awe of how George kept everyone on task and in agreement, and pulled off an amazing virtual event. Which is great, because that’s not going to be the only virtual event on the GCA’s plate in 2020.
First off, The LOUIE Virtual Awards, sponsored by the Atlanta Market, are July 30. It was a big accomplishment to put this together — and I'm sure the 2020 finalists who have been waiting since May can't wait to hear the results! And I have news on another big event just announced this week. Through Noted: A Focus on Diversity, to be held Thursday, July 16 at 2 pm EST, Black makers will have the chance to "pitch" their greeting card line to a panel of the top retailers, sales reps and or international distributors — plus a large group of retailers online. This event's pitch panel will feature Vanessa Raptopoulos, Awesome Brooklyn; Chandra Greer, Greer Chicago; Kristina Burkey, Calliope Paperie; and Kyle Williams, Paper Source.
If you are a retailer or sales rep, please attend to meet these great Black makers, download samples of their work and start to diversify your offerings. $5 of the $10 ticket price goes to a Noted 2021 scholarship for a maker of color. If you want to apply to pitch your work, do so here. It is 100% free for makers, as all of the usual costs of $250 per maker are being covered by the sponsors. The GCA is also working with Faire to create a page on its site of all the makers selected!
George also shares how we can all, regardless of role, help #savethepostoffice — and how the act is doing so is anything but a partisan act.
Watching makers successfully navigate their small brands first through a pandemic, and then civil unrest, has been unexpectedly heartening. While huge names in retail are closing their doors forever, small brands are emerging, if not unscathed, then at least relatively intact. And few have been more inspiring to me personally to witness in real time than Shayna Norwood of Steel Petal Press.
Those entering its Logan Square doors in Chicago don't realize, but Steel Petal Press was born in 2008 as a side project for Shayna, who started letterpressing greeting cards for friends. That grew into wholesale business, and that became the retail space in 2016. When I last saw Shayna at NY NOW and National Stationery Show in early February, all was pretty well in her world: She had a booth of her wholesale range that seemed busy every time I walked by, and also I saw her walking the show shopping for her shop as well.
When coronavirus hit, Shayna kept her doors open as long as she could, then once she had to close to the public, she was still in the shop every day, shipping orders or delivering them curbside. Shayna finally reopened June 4 — just in time for some of the biggest civil unrest this country, including Chicago, has seen in decades.
If that's not enough to grapple with, Shayna recently started sharing her struggles with anxiety with her community, mostly on her Instagram feed, in a very open, brave way. At the winter markets she actually released a series of mental health tracker notepads — great timing, I've got to say — but I am really curious as to how she is doing personally with all this as well. Tune in to find out!
Please welcome Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers (IMC) to The Paper Fold. Bob, as he prefers, is widely recognized as one of the home furnishings industry’s most Innovative leaders — he founded and built IMC into an exhibition space powerhouse with more than 20 million square feet of world-class B2B exhibition space. Its campuses include both AmericasMart Atlanta and World Market Center Las Vegas, markets vital to the stationery and gift industries.
When coronavirus halted everything, IMC surveyed 180,000 retailers to gage their needs. With guidance from health and elected officials as well as a top epidemiologist, IMC opened the AmericasMart campus June 8, and the World Market Center Las Vegas June 15. Everything is governed by IMC’s Together Safely Master Plan, which details procedures for registration, sanitization, temperature monitoring, traffic and occupancy control, seminars, masks, etc. This is a four-phase reopening, however, and the plan is a living document, meaning it may change in our current fluid, unknowable climate.
Understandably, it'll be a new market experience, and while IMC has been incredibly transparent throughout the process, it’s a lot of information to process, so I was really lucky to get Bob’s perspective on the ongoing challenges IMC is facing — as well as envision a visit to AmericasMart's Summer Market, which runs August 13-August 18, or Summer Market at World Market Center Las Vegas, which runs Aug. 30-Sept. 3). And if you are a current exhibitor, there's a special offer (read: free) in the ShopZio B2B Marketplace. Tune in for details!
Welcome to the Paper Fold! For my very first episode I sit down with Ryan and Juliana Kissick of San Francisco's own Good Juju Ink. You have heard of high school sweethearts, these two take it to another level that makes it clear that this union was written in the stars.
I am in just in awe of all they have been doing since going into quarantine in San Francisco with their 1-year-old daughter. First, in mid-March, as the world seemed to be falling apart, Ryan helped countless other small business owners by creating an amazingly concise, invaluable guide for navigating these times, hereafter to only be referred to as The Document (complete link below). It's been viewed 1000s of times around the world across many industries. All via word-of-mouth and completely free — the best kind of viral!
Then, Juju helped launch 18 Million Thanks. That's how many health care workers there are in the US — and that's how many thank-yous this collective of 13+ women-owned businesses are aiming to send them!
Thank you so much Ryan & Juju for sitting down with me and also sharing how you are navigating through through the economic downturn.
And thank you too for listening and reading this far!
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