Hello everyone! I am so glad to be home after our long journey and work week surrounding the first ever CHA SuperShow. Everything has been such a whirlwind! When we returned home last night, it felt as though we had been gone for nearly a month!
Even though neither David or I hardly had a chance to snap photos while we were there, I have been able to piece together my pictorial journal by using photos from my dearest friends & co-workers, Mish, Debbie, Heather & Dawn. I am also incredibly grateful for the generosity of MacArthur (Bold Lifestyle Photography) & Ashley Newell (A New Design) for sharing some photos they took at the show as well! I hope you enjoy my version of the amazing events of last week!
It all started with a little Uhaul trailer in Tennessee. Packed with all the bits & pieces necessary for creating a Papertrey wonderland within a cement floored convention center. David and I were so thankful to *finally* have that Uhaul packed. We were supposed to head out at 6am that morning, but didn't end up being able to actually pull out until 3pm. In addition, the booth had been set up in our garage for nearly a month, and it was nice to clear everything out so we could walk through the building once again!
We drove all night, *literally*, and pulled into Orlando at 5am. We were so thankful to crawl into bed! David & I caught a few hours rest and then headed to the Convention Center to meet up with the rest of the girls and walk to floor of the main CHA show! Debbie was already inside on the show floor by the time we arrived, but the rest of us needed to pick up our passes before we entered. David captured this cool shot while we were getting everything we needed.
Our first stop was the Hero Arts to visit one of my stamping idols and dear friends, Jennifer McGuire. She graciously forgave me for missing the appointment we had set up for that morning so I was able to catch a bit of sleep.
Jennifer is one of the sweetest, most kind people you will ever meet and I always love the opportunity to see her. We all chatted a bit about a few industry subjects of interest and then we were sure to get a group photo of everyone together! (just ignore how exhausted I look!)
We walked the show a bit more until it closed up for the night at 6. I had a meeting to attend with Julie & Jane and then we all met up again for a yummy dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy. Dawn's new friend, Brooke, was kind enough to join us! She is a local Floridian who played the role of hostess to all of us at Papertrey Ink on more than one occasion! Brooke was such a joy to have at our dinner table and I was so pleased to get to know her a bit better! Our dinner reservation hadn't been until 8:00, so needless to say, we were out until late!
Back at the hotel, I had one more task to complete for the booth set-up the next day and I enlisted the help of all my girls to complete it. The task was a pennant flag made of Papertrey's ribbons, buttons & papers. I had packed all of the products that coordinated with my desired color scheme along with a few other essentials. We spread them out onto Dawn's bed and just started cutting, adhering & tying!
Heather, Debbie, Mish & I randomly cut the flags from different papers and added buttons & ribbon as embellishments. The flags were then handed off to Dawn who was in charge of attaching them to the string that would hold all of them to form a banner or sorts. It was fascinating to see how different each of the flags turned out!
We worked until quite late that night, even though an early morning was ahead of us. One of the most memorable events of this part of the evening that was not captured on film was the laughter. Oh my goodness, did we ever laugh. You know, that deep kind of belly laugh that just makes you feel like a kid again? I think we experienced that type of intense laughter for nearly two hours straight!
Mish was usually the cause of most of our laughter. She's definitely the biggest comedian of the bunch. She just knows the right things to say to make us all double over with giggles! One of her best moments was when she decided to have David take some Senior Pictures of her. Mish is lucky that I am *such* a good friend, because I am not going to post the other shots taken that night, but I figured this one would suffice to get my point across! (I'm sure she'll forgive me! After all, I need to provide my readers with a complete picture of all these events!)
After going to bed SO late, it was a little difficult to get back up at 6am! Our adventure began with all 5 of us packed into David's pick-up truck with the Uhaul in tow. Our mission was to find exactly WHERE we needed to go at the convention center to unload all of the booth supplies. We drove in circles around the perimeter of the Convention Center before *finally* finding signs to point us in the right direction. Julie & Jane were already there and came out one of the back cargo bays to help David back in. It took a few trips to get the truck unloaded, but with everyone working together it didn't take much time at all. While David went to park the truck, we began set up, starting with rolling out the carpet.
When David returned, he and I began erecting the grid wall system around the perimeter of the shopping area. There were so many boxes to be unpacked and fixtures added to the walls at one point, it was almost a little overwhelming! I forgot to mention the eight pallets of merchandise that had been delivered via semi that morning as well! Julie & Jane (above in black shirts) did a fabulous job of organizing the distribution of the pallets and their contents.
I had a detailed scaled floor plan I had created to help keep everything straight & organized during the set up process. This is a photo Dawn snapped of me referring to my trusty chart once again. I was SO thankful to have that, because in all the chaos, I kept forgetting where everything was supposed to go! Did I mention that they did NOT turn on the AC while we were setting up? Phew! Was it ever humid. You probably could have just sat still and broken a sweat! We were all quite *moist* by the end of the day!
ALL of the thousands of pieces of merchandise we had brought needed to be *tabbed*, which means a sticky back hang tag needed to be adhered so that it could be hung from the pegs we were using to display everything in the retail area. The brunt of this job fell on the shoulders of the *girls*, Debbie, Mish, Heather and Dawn. I give them extra kudos, because they didn't know what they were getting into when they arrived and worked their hearts out!
Dawn & Heather unpacking one of the hundreds of boxes that contained stamp sets.
Debbie & Mish tabbing more stamp sets.
Heather working on getting the patterned paper onto our spinner. Dawn unpacking more boxes!
We finally finished up the booth at 6pm, and we were SO hot & tired! We all headed back to the hotel to take a quick shower, freshen up and head out to dinner at Tommy Bahamas. We had such an incredibly good time that night! The food was absolutely delicious, the margaritas were cold (and strong) and the laughter flowed like a never-ending stream down the center of our table.
One of the funniest moments was when Michelle decided to feed poor exhausted Debbie some dessert we had ordered to share. What REALLY made it a sight, was that Debbie was in the middle of telling us all a story and out of no where she suddenly had a spoonful of brownie coming in for a landing in her mouth!
The laughter that followed was SO contagious! A few of us even had tears coming from the corners of our eyes because we were laughing so hard! I am so glad that the moment got captured on film so we can re-live it over and over again for years to come!
Two of my favorite personal shots were taken that night as well. Heather took this one of Dawn & I. It was a shot we made sure to get, because at the last show (which was the last time we had seen each other) we didn't have a single photo of just the two of us. Not only did we *check this off the list*, but it turned out beautifully and I am looking forward to framing it in my office to I can remember my dear friend fondly even when we are apart!
The second one was a fun candid taken by Dawn. If I remember correctly, I think David & I were told to pose while we were sitting finishing up dinner. I like this photo so much because it embodies the moment perfectly and how wonderful it was to have David along for the ride with me. This is the perfect opportunity for me to thank him for all he dedicated and sacrificed for this entire CHA experience to happen.
I hadn't cooked for weeks leading up to our departure date. He was taking care of the house and kids when he wasn't at work. He designed & constructed several important parts of the booth. He had very little sleep for nearly a week straight, and never complained once about it. The fact that he is as dedicated as I am even thought he is not directly responsible, really allows me to see how much he loves me, supports me and cares about my hopes & dreams. I am SO incredibly lucky, and that night at dinner I was overwhelmed with these emotions, making this photo even more special & memorable.
Since we had eaten dinner late, once again, we didn't arrive back to the hotel until nearly midnight. Another early morning followed, beginning at 5am. We needed to get over to the booth to prepare all of the last finishing touches for the *official* opening that day. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get shots of the completed booth before customers began filing in. This is the first color wall you see on the right-hand side as you enter the booth. All of the products were meticulously organized by color to make it easy to find everything.
Each color section included our exclusive cardstock, ink, buttons and ribbons. I made swatch books for each color that included the cardstock & all the ribbons. These hung and each section so that people could easily touch everything and feel the quality that we have insisted on. The swatch books also worked well in allowing people to see all of the elements of a color collection together in close proximity.
This is the back stamp wall where we had over 60 of our most popular stamp sets available for sale. Isn't it purrr-ty!
Each stamp set was on display with it's own index sheet so customers could clearly see all the images. There was also a small shelf for each set, showcasing samples using it's images. It was so fun for Heather and I to pick out which cards went on each shelf. The finished product was truly inspiring. One of the coolest parts of all this was getting to see our fellow design team members work in person. It was amazing to see each creation in real life and appreciate all of the detail that went into it. Sooo awesome. I admire all of them even more today than I did before the show!
This is the other color wall, on the opposing side of the booth. More colors, more eye candy! It was SO fun even for us (the owners) of PTI, to see everything together like this! We normally just see everything in the warehouse, in cardboard boxes nonetheless. We were just giddy when we put the final products out for display so we could see them together in all their glory!
This is a little display I created beside the t-shirt display. For all of you that have been wondering, this is where the fruit came into play that I shared a little sneak peek of last week. ( BTW, I will be providing a printable template and instructions in the near future for those of you that have asked). A few other small details I thought I would mention... a tiered cake created from ribbon spools, an altered bottle of designer water, complete with a Papertrey Ink logo, and a delectable bowl of sorbet, berry sorbet buttons that is! Which all ties into the catch phrase displayed at the top of the fruit stand...
I have my dear friend Dawn to thank for the phraseology! She always helps me when I am stumped! Thanks again, Dawn!
This is the cash counter, where Jane and Julie set up the two laptops that served as our cash registers. Notice the pennant flag banner? That would be the very one that all of the girls & I made in the hotel room together! Didn't it turn out cute?!?!?
In case you were wondering what was in those polka dot bins on top of the counter, they were filled with free notepads and pens that were decked out with our logo. They were a big hit with everyone that passed through the booth!
This is the Floral Fusion wall, which could be found directly behind the make & take area. I created small individual displays for each of our design team members that included their headshot, card sample and a quote regarding their first impressions of the stamp set. They all did an AMAZING job on their samples! All the designers will be sharing their Floral Fusion projects with you over the next month or so on their individual blogs, so be sure to keep an eye out!
This is the poster I created for the promotion of Floral Fusion, an exclusive set available to CHA SuperShow customers who spent $100 or more. Two of these posters were on display in the booth to help spread the word of the special show promotion.
With all of the finishing touches in place, it was about time for the convention doors to open!!! The team and I posed for a quick photo with our matching Papertrey t-shirts & aprons. Gosh, looking at this photo just makes my heart burst with pride and thankfulness for all these girls invested in the show. I couldn't ask for a better team to surround myself with.
Shortly before the clock was prepared to strike 10, I got an extreme case of butterflies in my stomach and was so nervous as to what was about to happen. I can't even describe it really! David could totally tell and he came up to me in those last few seconds and put his arm around me and told me how beautiful I looked and assured me everything would be okay. He ALWAYS knows just the right thing to say at the right time.
...and then, almost as if someone had turned on a light switch, the crowds began pouring in. It happened so fast, the chaos was almost a bit overwhelming!
We had lines just to get in the booth to go shopping. Several portions of the day on Friday reported hour long waits just to get into the booth.
Julie and Jane worked so hard to ring people's purchases up as fast as they could!
Even the lines for our make & take projects were quite extensive! But everyone waited with a smile and happily chatted with fellow PTI addicts (or converted those that hadn't yet heard of us!)
As soon as the flood gates opened, as I described above, the entire Papertrey Team jumped into action. Debbie facilitated her make & take projects beautifully.
Heather was gracious enough to facilitate my make & take project so that I could remain in my meet & greet spot.
Michelle really knew how to keep everyone moving along and laughing all at the same time.
Dawn helped me greet people at the front of the booth. This proved to be a great pace to be, especially when the lines were so long. I loved the opportunity to talk to each customer in a personal and genuine way. Dawn & I had many fun & interesting exchanges with all of you when you passed by!
Here is a shot of everyone working away at their projects. Such concentration by these PTI students!
My partner/co-owner, Jane was dedicated to on of the cash registers the entire length of both days.
Julie, the other part of the threesome and daughter of Jane, was focused on processing purchases as well.
We had two energetic, insightful helpers, Andrea & Kristen. They helped bag, process credit cards & make change. Julie & Jane couldn't have moved as fast without them and we appreciated them being there SO much!
And of course, I cannot forget David. He and JD (Jane's son/ Julie's brother, not pictured here) constantly made lists and ran back and forth between the booth and our extra stock that was kept out back on pallets. It was absolutely shocking how fast the inventory of each item within the booth was dwindling on the first day of the show. Buttons were the hottest commodity and had to be refilled the most often.
David is specifically preparing to restock stamps in these photos. He seems to be concentrating SO hard!
After two *long* days of booth work along followed by a few hours of tear down, myself and the team were COMPLETELY exhausted. Showers and a change of clothes along with reservations at the local Capital Grille were the perfect prescription for all involved. It was a nice change of pace to get dressed up and out of our Papertrey t-shirts and aprons!
That pretty much sums it all up! I hope you enjoyed my overview of the show! It was SO amazing to have the opportunity to meet SO many customers in person. I felt as though I was surrounded by friends all day. So many hugs were exchanged, you shared your praise & encouragement. I felt so energized & inspired by ALL of your kindness. What more can I say other than my cup runneth over.
Thank you to each and every one of you who made the journey out to visit us. I know how much a trip of that nature takes, whether you are coming from near or far, and we all just want you to know how much we truly appreciate it. You were all shining stars in the little piece of Papertrey we were able to bring to you at this show and it made every moment, every hour of lost sleep, every strain & stress, completely worthwhile.