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Worked at a Trade Show, Here’s How It Went

The month of February was a very exciting and extremely busy month. It wasn’t only fashion week but I also got a very unique experience working at a trade show. It was my first time participating in this kind of event so I was very excited and nervous to see what the world of “buying/selling” would entail. To my surprise, I enjoyed it very much and am now considering entering the buying business in the fashion industry. The trade show was held in NYC from February 11-13th at the Jacob Javits Convention. I was part of a brand that showed at the Children’s Club, so we were located on the lower level along with all the other children’s brands that would be participating. I had never been to the Javits Center before, so upon entering for the first time I took in all my surroundings and quickly realized what an amazing opportunity this would be for the brand that I’m working for.

Preparing for this show was no joke. From choosing how to set up the space to choosing the merchandise to show, this was a very long and thoughtful process. Because the brand is relatively new and showcases capsules rather than full collections, we didn’t have many pieces to choose from (which in my opinion is great). Having less pieces to show not only allows for a nice and clean set up but it also allows the buyer to really interact with the garments. Some of the booths around us had racks that were packed to the brim with clothing, which makes me question how buyers decide if they want to go through them or not.

Going into this week I knew that I would have to do lots of research to prepare how I’d network and hopefully sell to the buyers. Part of my research taught me that typically for new brands it takes three years to be considered “established” in the tradeshow community. The first year showing would mostly be networking, the second would show growth and attract buyers, and the third year would establish “credibility” showing the seriousness of the brand while also attracting big-time buyers. Because we were one of the newer brands we were allowed the opportunity for more recognition. The first day we were allowed to place some of our garments at the “Buyer’s Breakfast” where buyers were allowed a closer look at some of the pieces and could decide if they wanted to visit our booth or not. The second and third day our clothing was shown on a mini mannequin in the front lobby all day, where buyers could also get a closer look and decide to come visit our booth. 

A majority of the time spent there we were able to make lots of new connections with manufacturers, photographers, publishers, etc.. It was amazing seeing so many people in one location trying to find ways to work together and benefit from each other. It’s safe to say that our first trade show was mainly networking but we did get some people interested in purchasing some garments and we’re currently in the process of following up with that. I’d have to admit though, it was quite a nerve-wracking experience because any wrong word could really turn the buyer away. For future trade shows, I definitely would love to improve on my communication skills and I can’t wait for the next opportunity I’ll get to work at one of these events again!

Nayely Hernandez is a fashion studies major student at Montclair State University. She has been passionately obsessed with fashion since the age of 7 and is excited for her future in the industry. She is currently running her start up face mask business, trying to keep everyone safe yet stylish one mask at a time. Aside from fashion, she enjoys watching telenovelas with her mom with a side of chips and guac. Check out some of her content on Instagram: @jelly_4_life
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