NY OR BUST: ADVENTURES WITH KIM AT SURTEX

I just got back from four days in New York helping one of my best friends pursue her dreams and I am still in disbelief of how well her artwork was received and the magnitude of interest from prospective buyers. Is there any better feeling than witnessing a friend’s hard work pay off? The week included an obnoxious amount of overpriced coffee, pigeons inside the convention center, fun pants, original outfits, and a lot of laughing (mostly at ourselves). We arrived at LaGuardia on Saturday morning and immediately headed to the Javits Center. My talented friend, Kim of Manayunk Calligraphy, registered for Surtex in January and paid a hefty amount (the price of a nice used car) to attend. While she was uncertain about whether or not this was a good investment as she prepared for Surtex over the last few months, we are both confident that it provided tremendous exposure for her and validated her work. It was a whirlwind four days and I am so proud to not only be her friend, but also be her sidekick.

Surtex is a B2B marketplace for showcasing original art to buyers, manufacturers and retailers from around the world. Surtex stands for surface and textile design and our booth was located in the licensing portion of the floor. Kim has a portfolio of original designs to be used on dish towels, linens, pillows, journals, stationary, and a plethora of other goods. The biggest names in retail were featured and we had a steady stream of attendees stop by the booth to peruse Kim’s work.

The lovely ladies from Crayola stopped by and all of my childhood dreams came true. Their business cards featured a photo of them from when they were kids and it was a fun reminder to always be a kid at heart. Neiman Marcus, Home Goods, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Target, Hallmark, American Greetings, and Tiny Prints were just a few retailers we had the opportunity to meet with. As I took notes in a spiral bound notebook that Kim had created for the event, I quickly realized that most of the business cards were too exquisite to glue onto the pages. The man from Crane took the cake with the finest quality card stock I have ever laid my hands on. Even the word ‘Crane’ was embossed and had a navy blue raised edge.

We made a lot of friends with other booths and I commented that it was like camp when we had to say goodbye to our new friends on the last day. There is a camaraderie that exists when you’ve sat staring at one another for four days from 9am until 6pm, hopelessly waiting for an attendee to stop by and yell ‘SOLD! Where have you been all of my life?’

We loved an artist from the UK, Emma Shipley, that specializes in artwork on silk scarves. She has the rights from Disney to produce Star Wars images and actress Daisy Ridley (Rey in the latest Star Wars movie) recently donned her scarf. I hope to someday be half as cool as Emma. She joined us for Shake Shack and we discussed what Londoners think of Trump and American politics. Spoiler alert: it is not good. I think Kim and I represented the Midwest well and we were known as the booth with the two ‘happiest girls.’ We also wrote on our little chalkboard sign that ‘We’re super nice,’ so we had to live up to the promise.

Another highlight was a 12 year old girl that attended with her mother and has her own Etsy shop. She is a budding artist and she was adorable in a polka dot shirt and pink cardigan. Kim wrote the girl’s name on a piece of scratch paper for her to take home so that she could see the way Kim holds the brush pen and forms the letters. She even had her own business cards! Watch out world, Harriet Brown is coming for you.

Overall, I don’t think the conference could have gone any better. I learned a lot (throw out the word calligram at your next dinner party), I used my PR skills to pitch why Kim’s work is so fabulous, I ate a lot of sandwiches (carbs on carbs on carbs), and I am tremendously proud of Kim. I am also proud of Indiana! We received quite a few looks when we said where we are located, yet neither of us would live anywhere else. There’s a reason an orange isn’t $3 in Indy and why we hold the door open for each other. I am always up for adventures and NY was one for the books, but arriving back at the Indy Airport and seeing the No Mean City sign made me glad to be home. Denver’s middle name was adventure, but she bought her condo in Indy because no matter where she traveled, there’s comfort in knowing you have a place to call home.

Most booths gave out swag and ours was the ‘Get Shit Done’ magnets, which were well received until we had an older woman stop by the booth and she made it clear that she was not amused.

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Kim treated me to Drunk Shakespeare on Saturday night before the Surtex craziness began. It was laugh-until-you-cry-hilarious. We sat in the front row and were featured in the show multiple times. They provide a tequila shot to you upon arrival and it goes downhill from there. We saw Macbeth, but is was light on the actual Shakespeare and heavy on the (drunken) improv.

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Does it get any better than calligraphy and Libby cookies?

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The fun people from Grommet had a large map of the U.S. that attendees colored throughout the week. Also, the $3 orange. I couldn’t complain when I realized the guy in front of me bought a grande Starbucks drink that was $10.70. I hope there was magic dust or gold flecks in there.

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I had a moment at the Kate Spade booth at the National Stationary Show. My boyfriend commented that NSS is the equivalent of my Disneyland. Kim’s $9 flowers from Duane Reade that lasted exactly one day.

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A few of my favorite cards from the Louie Awards, recognizing the cards of the year. I love the happy birthday card in the bottom right from Rifle Paper Company. I’d like to think she is my doppelganger.

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The great divide of craftiness: orange carpet is Surtex and pink is NSS. The amazing tomato, pesto, pine nut, mozzarella toast that we got at LaGuardia and Bon Appetit for my airport read.

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Shake Shack lived up to the hype. I re-created the special sauce in a blog post last summer, but I had never actually experienced it until now. While I realize it is a burger place, the hot dog was unreal. I am glad there isn’t an Indy location because my nitrate intake would be off the charts. The shake of the day was red velvet and we were in a food coma the rest of the night.

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Emma with us in front of the booth! Check out the custom yoga pants by Kim. White yoga pants are not a flattering look for anyone, especially not when worn on day four of eating yourself silly. Thanks, Kim.

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Your weekly inspiration, doodled by the one and only Kim Shrack.

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Xx, Libby

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