Leading the Way
Gift Shop Magazine's inaugural Emerging Gift Industry Leader Award finalists
Adam Brooks, Farcountry Press
Allison Barrows, Ganz USA
Briana Kagy, The Firecracker Press
Christina Casnellie, The Firecracker Press
Emily Ley, Emily Ley
Erin Thormodsgard, Girl Ran Away with the Spoon
Irene Martin, Sparkvites
Kara Yanagawa, Egg Press
Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp
Lauren Miller Brekke, Mud Pie
Lauren Yochum, giddy paperie
Lawrence Yeh, Paper Pop Cards
Libby O'Regan, PSA Essentials
Mary Grace Wallace, Writefully His
Maura Kroh Lall, Acacia Creations
Michael Kittredge III, Kringle Candle Company
Nathan & Anna Bond, Rifle Paper
Rebecca Kinnison, Frontier Texas
Savvanah Slife, Twisted Tomboy
Teah Mazzoni, Anchor Me Bracelet
Zalyia L. Grillet, Luckee Star Cards
There’s a new generation of product masters in the gift and home industry. A group of eager Gen Yers who grew up learning the ins and outs of the trade from their parents, wanted to start something for a greater cause, or simply looking to escape the monotony of a typical desk job. Whatever the case may be, a new era of diligent gift industry pros are logging the man hours and making a name for themselves; blood, sweat and tears notwithstanding.
When we here at Gift Shop Magazine came up with the idea of the Emerging Gift Industry Leader award, our intention was to honor an under-40 gift entrepreneur for their vigor and tireless efforts to continue the growth of an industry we all live for. With nomination criteria that included under 40 years in age, employment within the gift industry and leadership demonstration, there was no shortage of entries submitted, all featuring nominees who are already making a mark in the industry. “In judging the Emerging Leader nominees, I first looked at how they involved themselves in the industry and their communities,” said Gift Shop Editor-in-Chief and panel judge, Julie McCallum. “We rated them on their demonstration of leadership qualities, innovation and creativity, involvement with their industry and the overall presentation of their nomination materials.”
Three other judges who rounded out the panel were Cathy Steel, owner of Steel Associates, LLC; Chad Corzine, former director of business development for Archipelago Botanicals and co-founder of Young Gift Executives; and Art Mandelbaum, chief executive officer of Gratitude. “I judged not only on the work that was in front of me, but also based (my decision) on the work I had actually seen in person,” said Corzine. “The candidates have already established themselves in the industry.”
After much deliberation, an inaugural Emerging Gift Industry Leader winner was announced: Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp.
With a background in business, experience working in the legal industry for 13 years and a evolving a self-taught passion for graphic design, Hunt started turning her love of paper into a business. In 2009, just one year after starting Kelp Designs, Hunt attended the National Stationery Show and wrote a blog post full of helpful insights once she returned. We sat down with Hunt to find out a little more about how she started and what it took for her to get here.
Gift Shop: How did Tradeshow Boot Camp happen?
Katie Hunt: I launched into wholesale in 2008 [with Kelp Designs] and attended the National Stationery Show in 2009. After the show I did a blog post for a friend of mine. She asked for five things I wished I had known before I went to the show for the first time. I shared some concrete tips and after that I’d get a lot of emails from people who were thinking of going to shows who were small business companies like myself. I was taking a lot of time to thoughtfully respond to all these different people who had these questions. I thought, “Let’s get together and let’s answer these questions that everyone is asking,” in a more systematic way.
GS: What do you hope to accomplish with the program?
KH: Initially, Tradeshow Bootcamp’s focus was simply teaching people how to create a wholesale program and take their product to market. [But] it’s much more than trade shows; it was more about creating a profitable, sustainable business and working smarter, not harder.
GS: Walk us through the workshops.
KH: Paper Camp is very much aimed toward the stationery industry and is our signature wholesale program. It’s a very thorough curriculum [where we] start out talking about product development – what size your cards should be and how you should package and price them. We discuss greeting cards, art prints, giftwrap, mugs, pencils and other gift items that are more common in the stationery industry. We go really in depth and talk about how much product is needed before they wholesale and how they need to be releasing new product on a regular basis. Not just how to do it, but why so they understand how it all works. [We discuss] sales tools, order forms, working with sales reps, marketing strategies and general industry etiquette. One the second day we go over the logistics of how to design and build your booth, covering everything from the walls and flooring to the lighting. We also have Q&A time with retailers there so everyone can learn about their buying preferences and expectations. Paper Camp is held each spring and fall, with both in-person and online options.
Business Camp was created for companies with at least three years experience across a range of industries. This conference covers operational strategies, such as hiring staff, small business taxes, diversifying revenue streams, legal concerns and marketing strategies – strategies for working smarter, not harder. For Business Camp I bring in a wide range of experts in different fields and industry. Our 2015 program included Jen Gotch from Ban.do, Chelsea Shukov of Sugar Paper, Craig Hetzer of Knock Knock, business strategist Tara Gentile and Ellen Bennett from Hedley & Bennett, among others. Business Camp is held in Los Angeles each summer.
GS: Why are you so passionate about the bootcamp?
KH: TSBC is a nice hybrid of my professional work experience, my education and allows me to work with an industry I love. I’ve been coaching professionals for 16 years, and have a dual MBA in marketing and finance, and I have an invested interest in seeing the stationery industry thrive since I have a stationery line. I feel very fortunate to do work I love with people I adore, everyday.