Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Glamorous Life of a Sewing Star

Most people who read this blog know that I’m a professional in the sewing world. I write for magazines, speak in multiple national shows, have ribbons from nationally ranked quilt shows and have been featured as a top designer.

Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it, with visions of me traveling down the street, surrounded by my entourage, with scores of gorgeous men throwing themselves at my feet.  Ahh… if only that were true. Instead, my life is often filled with a manual labor and humdrum tasks.

Wednesday of this week found me in high drudge mode; I had the excitement of setting up for a sewing show, manual labor of the highest order. The show is Sew Expo, one of the largest sewing shows in the country, probably the largest that is geared for garment sew-ists.  Sew Expo is held in the metropolis of Puyallup, Washington and I attend each year as a speaker and vendor, which means that Bullard Designs sets up a booth at the show.

As always, the show promoters have cleverly scheduled the show at the end of February, with predictably bleak weather. I’ve been to the show for the last nine years and only once during that time do I remember seeing even one ray of sunshine. At least I think I remember that. It’s possible it’s just something I dreamed.

Part of the joy of setting up a booth at  tradeshow is that you have to bring a whole store’s worth of ‘stuff’ with you.

First you pack your van, stuffing in all kinds of exciting paraphernalia ranging from boxes of product to the very walls you’ll need to display it.the-van

Unfortunately, packing the wares isn’t good enough. When you arrive at the show, those same items must be unpacked, and moved from the van to your booth space. As I have not yet conquered telekinesis, this involves extreme manual labor.

To ensure a maximum amount of discomfort for the vendors transporting their wares from their vehicles to their show spaces, the show organizers open all of the doors and leave them open for the duration of the setup period. This wouldn’t be a problem if these were ordinary doors, but no, the doors into this establishment are super doors, large enough to accommodate the Mongol hoards including elephants. As we’re in the booth closest to the door we get to experience all of the rain, wind and snow at close range

This year we chronicled the setup process. Here’s the space as it looked when we  first arrived. We were able to capture the space during a lull in the wind.


The only way to approach this is with humor so despite the weather, we managed to keep our spirits up. And by we, I mean, Cindy S, who actually organizes my show life and keeps me on cindy-and-me-1the straight and narrow, and DH, Randy, the love of my life who plays the role of mule, master technician and salesperson when we’re at tradeshows.

Contrary to the evidence shown here, Randy does not spend all of his time in a cage.randy1


I could go into detail about the frustration of unpacking, the search for the tape gun which you knew was in the under-the-table box but in reality was found in the box for the crystal rack. Or how we must have used an alternate alphabet when boxing the design set CDs at home which impeded the arranging of said CDs on the way. You get the gist of it.

Somehow, just when chaos seems to prevail, a little order surfaces.




Eventually, good does triumph over evil, and our booth takes on a semblance of sanity and order (the illusion we work hard to maintain).

We’re now two days into the show, and things are going well. The booth still looks close to this, although the crystal rack has bare spots and there are fewer CDs on the wall. I daresay that the three of us look a little worn, but our spirits are still high.

So, hello from the show.


Mary Beth said...

Hi Bobbi: It's rough work being a vendor and speaker/teacher! I know because my husband and I (less so in the past few years) do 10 to 15 of these a year in a different niche market. So I can say that sewing would not be the same without all the hard work of the vendors. Thank you! I know you have had a good reception and welcoming audience.

T said...

How nice to read about the Expo, your writing gives those of us who are not able to attend this year, a feeling of being there.

NancyH said...

Thank you, all of you vendors of exciting, creative Nirvana. I am fortunate enough to go to the Cleveland Expo at the end of March each year and it is a wonderful experience, a shot of enthusiasm at the closing days of winter. However, I don't know how you do it, all that moving of stuff, smiling, helpful. God Bless you and your helpers.