I have been accepted as an exhibitor to show my handmade steel furniture designs in August 2017 at the NY NOW trade show in New York City. Its a once in a lifetime opportunity that naturally comes with expenses beyond our normal budget for such activities. My project on kickstart is to fund the opportunity to show my handmade steel furniture designs at this prestigious show.
What makes me, Robert Simmons of Invictus Steelworks unique?
I do everything by hand. If a curve is called for, I bend it by hand against a pipe until it's the perfect shape. I use a welder, a drill press and a plasma cutter as my main tools, along with a hand grinder and cut off wheel. I don't use fancy high end tools, they aren't necessary, and they take away from everything that hand made piece should stand for. Every piece is cut and meticulously fit by hand on my fabrication table before being welded, cleaned and finished. I enjoy designing pieces in various genres, including Modern/Contemporary, Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, Industrial, and Steampunk, and often mix the styles together for a whole new look and feel. I work with interior designers as well as commercial and residential customers to design custom (bespoke) pieces to suit particular needs. When someone buys an Invictus table or table base, they are buying quality and craftsmanship. They are buying a piece that will last for generations to come.
What is NY NOW?
NY Now show is the premier trade show for wholesale home design, where over 25,000 buyers come to the Javits Center in New York City for a four day buying frenzy where they stock their stores with new and innovative designs to bring to the retail market.
What do Buyers say about NY Now?
A survey of attendees from last year's show indicated that nearly 80% of buyers felt that seeing a product at NY Now was more influential to their purchasing decision over any other trade show or resource available to them.
Who are the 25,000 attendees?
NY Now is limited to industry professionals who have to prove their credentials. Of the 25,000 attendees, over 20,000 of them had purchasing power last year. Buyers include mid-level to luxury shop owners and/or their representatives, all the way up to representatives of high end famous big box stores, interior designers, architectural firms and more. Over 300 media outlets, from HGTV to Architectural Digest will be on site covering this event, searching out the best of the best the vendors have to offer. This is the most cost effective way to get new work to market. The cost of trying to meet individually with these influential buyers that set the trends for the coming year would be astronomical, and impossible.
Who else is exhibiting at this show?
Kifu Paris, Cozy Nomad, Ngala Trading, and Dynasty Gallery have booths next to us, and the aisle is shared with bidkHome, Middle Kingdom, Notre Monde, M3LD, and Trowbridge.
Who benefits from an Invictus Steelworks booth at NY Now?
A successful show would benefit more than just Invictus Steelworks.
*Job creation - A successful show would give us the opportunity create jobs for helpers in our shop. We envision these helper positions to a combination apprenticeship/helper position, designed to teach young steel artists how to take their own designs from a concept all the way through to production, focusing on teaching proper techniques as well as the critical thinking skills required to be a top notch fabricator.
*Availability of handmade, quality furniture without a six to eight or sixteen week lead time for custom pieces. One of the biggest complaints we hear from interior designers is a selection of high quality furniture available at stores.
*Made in America - High quality furniture made by hand, not machined, right here in the United States.
*I make my work available at a reasonable cost. Beautiful, handmade pieces often cost less than manufactured pieces, and the quality is no doubt higher, but there is a perception that handmade means more expensive. That isn't always the case. We will be showcasing mid-price range pieces in addition to our higher end line, and our less expensive pieces are always available through custom order on Etsy.
$25,000 is a lot of money. How would you spend it?
60% is dedicated to booth fees, required insurance, installation and set up fees (NYC is union, so we aren't allowed to set up ourselves), as well as shipping costs to transport our booth exhibits from Ogden, Utah to NYC. The booth fee alone is almost $12,000.
20% goes to material costs of building a booth facade, pedestals to show furniture, glass tops, and to purchase the materials required for fabricating the show pieces themselves, and printing costs for take aways and business cards.
10% is dedicated to travel, hotel and meal expenses from SLC to NYC.
What would you do if you raised more than your goal?
Anything raised above our goal, will be applied to new product development and prototyping new pieces, outreach to show attendees both before and after the show, funding for apprentice/helper positions that will open up following a successful show, and shop equipment upgrades required to accommodate additional employees.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge we are facing now that I've been accepted as a vendor into NY NOW is raising the funds for the expenses outlined above. I need to be able to make a commitment by June 16 in order to appear in their published materials, which goes to all of the media and the attendees.
Before I decided to try to kickstart my project, I had a conference call with NY Now's manager for the Home section. I asked her directly if she felt that our designs would be successful at her show, and she answered emphatically yes. Her thought process behind her answer included the fact that my existing customer base is the exact demographic and geographic locations that the majority of the buyers are shopping for at NY NOW, and she feels my style and products are an excellent fit. Its additional exposure in the best market possible for handmade furniture.
Another factor is that it would be impossible to reach buyers like those that attend NY Now on an individual level, not to mention exorbitantly expensive in both time and money. Even to attend smaller shows with fewer in attendance would be more expensive in the long run than the kind of face time and potential media coverage available at a show like NY Now.
If successful in raising the necessary funds, we will be doing a strong pre-show campaign, introducing ourselves to known attendees and inviting them to meet with us in our booth via email and USPS, as well as joining in on the hashtag promotions on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
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