It takes some creative thinking to stand out from among the rows of vendors displaying jewelry, handbags, pillows and blankets at NY NOW.
The displays on the vast floor of the trade show, held every August and February at Manhattan’s Javits Center, are a huge part of attracting attention from the store buyers, interior designers and press at the show — especially at a time when wholesaling has become more challenging for makers with the shuttering of Etsy Wholesale, which was a NY NOW sponsor just a few years ago.
When I attended earlier this week, some vendors who have been showing in the juried Handmade Designer Maker category for a few years now caught my eye by rethinking their overall booth design or by refining their product line.
Last February, Gillian Preston of Broken Plates displayed her sculptural glass jewelry on a white wall along with large posters showing her design inspiration. For this show, she hung her necklaces on backlit white panels, which allowed them to stand out.
“I realized I could let the jewelry speak for itself,” said Preston, who is based in Pittsburgh.
I’ve been attending the show for the last three years and actually thought she was a new vendor.
NY NOW newcomer Hazy Mae wowed with the display for her white ceramic cookie jars, based on whimsical illustrations and accented with chrome paint. The New York City-based artist displayed her products in a tiny vintage kitchen, painted all white, complete with a working refrigerator and a faux oven with an embedded screen. “I wanted it to be my dream kitchen,” she explained. The setup earned Mae an award for Creative Booth Design.
Amanda Nogier of Béton Brut, who showed at NY Now for the first time in February, reduced the color choices and brought more of a variety in price point of her concrete and metal jewelry.
“A bigger range works for more retailers, but it’s also easier to make a decision with less colors,” said Nogier, who is based in Edmonton, Canada.
While the vendors I spoke with praised Instagram for connecting them with retailers from around the country, NY NOW is seen as a way to elevate their businesses and better connect with potential wholesale customers.
“I’ve gotten such a good response from Instagram, but I realized I should grow up and do this show,” said Lindsay Holmes, who makes jewelry and bottle openers out of recycled skateboards through MapleXO and shared a booth with a few other makers from Portland, Oregon.
The show is also a way to help educate current and potential customers on display options in person, said Latondra Newton, who creates textured metal jewelry through her Los Angeles-based company, Stôn By Latondra.
“We assemble some pieces based on how they would show it in their space,” Newton said.
The show is also a great place to spot trends. Here are some I noticed:
- A lot of vendors are mixing traditional craftsmanship with technology, such as laser cutting and innovative printing on material like wood.
- There was an increased presence of handmade businesses collaborating with artisans from overseas for specific collections, such as Brooklyn studio Spencer Devine working with women in Assam, India, to create woven cotton bags and Indiana company Sari Bari employing women escaping the commercial sex trade in West Bengal, India, with the products stamped with the name of the woman who made it.
- At the same time, Made in the USA is big overseas. Domingo Daquioag of wood jewelry company [un]possible cuts said shop owners from overseas are hyping things as American made.
- Avocados are the new owls. The fruit was on everything — jewelry, stationery and home decor items.
Lisa Chamoff is a freelance journalist in the New York Metro area who specializes in home design, real estate,and healthcare. When she’s not writing, or knitting shawls and sweaters, Lisa runs Indie Untangled (www.indieuntangled.com), a marketplace and blog that promotes the work of yarn dyers, pattern designers,and crafters of knitting-related accessories.