Rena Tom Rena Tom

New York Whirlwind

I am back in California and am still a bit bleary and jetlagged, but wanted to post some images and info from my trip. What started out as a “just for fun” excursion soon turned into an opportunity to teach, have some meetings and go to design tradeshows, plus see as many people as possible. I haven’t been back to NY for at least 3 years and I made the classic mistake of trying to visit everyone, which is impossible. I’m now paying the price but would do it all over again. Personally, I had a hard time when I lived in Brooklyn – the pace and anxiety got to me – but oh boy, do I love to visit.



First up was a little time at ICFF. The furniture fair is the centerpiece of New York’s design week and while I think a lot of the cutting-edge stuff was happening at the offsite events, the fair itself always has a ton going on, including demos of making (above left). I like how the maker movement is even appearing at these big events, it’s quite new to see it happen in person in the middle of a tradeshow. I got to tour a bit of ICFF with Grace; it was interesting to watch her do her thing and scope out faves and trends. She is incredibly good at synthesizing data quickly.


Workshop attendees at the Designsponge HQ.


The next day was all about my workshops. I started it out by teaching Opening a Boutique then after a short break tackled Retail Readiness. It was a lot of fun; everyone was very interactive and asked a lot of questions. I learned things from the attendees too, which is always my favorite part. I talked myself hoarse then met up with Doug (who had amazing gifts for me) and friends to wind down the day.


Shed Letterpress made font cootie-catchers; Katharine Watson's booth included the actual blocks she uses for her prints.


Monday was super rainy so I gladly went back to Javits for the National Stationery Show. Since I was not buying this year, it was quite fun to walk the show and visit with all of the vendors I knew from the Rare Device days, plus I got to meet new makers and even some people who guest-posted on my blog. Monday night was a loud, tasty, delightful dinner with some of the design/blog world’s finest. We filled up the center table at Gobo and ordered too many dishes.


Finally, a quick meeting over at Etsy regarding their new, not-rolled-out-yet wholesale program. Their goals and mine are the same – helping makers learn about what it takes to successfully wholesale their work and streamlining the process as much as possible. We also agree that not everyone should, or has to, sell their work wholesale, so Etsy sellers should breathe easy that, fundamentally, the goals of the Etsy marketplace are not going to change.

After I visited the lovely Etsy offices, I met up with Lisa and Victoria and we popped in down the street at Studiomates and Tattly. The DUMBO area of Brooklyn is truly a hotbed of creativity and it was nice to see how different offices were configured for different needs. We finished up with lunch at Rice then it was time to go home. Bye and thanks, New York!

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  1. Wow, that was a top of the line kind of trip!
    I agree it’s totally repeatable, again and again and again….

  2. evie says:

    sounds like a jam packed trip. im interested in what etsy are up to. they are talking here in sydney, australia this weekend. i wonder if any of this might be covered. guess i’ll find out soon.

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