If you’re involved in any way in the tea industry, World Tea Expo (WTE) is the next best thing to paradise. The recent (June 24-26) Expo in Las Vegas was my fourth; twice previously I had been invited as a speaker at the forerunner to WTE, TakeMe2Tea Expo, and attended once as a reporter.
This latest show was very different: It was my first venture as an exhibitor. A long-time handicrafter of functional objects, tea has inspired me to explore and develop the many ways it can be incorporated into wearable art. At first it was a hobby, crafting a few pieces and offering them on Etsy. As demand increased I recognized a viable market, and set up as a business. My specialties are tea-dyed scarves and shirts, and I recently added accessories and jewelry featuring beads that contain real tea leaves.
To paraphrase a popular tune, if you can make it at World Tea Expo, you can make it anywhere in the tea world. This year I decided to accept the challenge, and signed up my newly-formed CrafTea Designs & Tea Dyed Tees for an exhibitor’s booth.
Exhibiting at the Expo is great fun and very exciting. It’s also a lot of hard work, as well as a significant expense for a small business. I learned a great deal from the experience, and pass these pointers along to other potential first-timers.
Whatever you’ve budgeted for costs, increase the amount by at least half, maybe more. The booth, hotel, and travel to the Expo are just the beginning. You’ll need printed business cards and other professional handouts. A variety of display pieces. Sales order forms and a cash box. A data connection if you’re accepting credit cards. Plenty of lights, extension cords, and electrical service. A nice tablecloth to cover the standard plastic one. Double-sided tape for use in the booth; packing tape for return shipments. Scissors, pens, stapler. Eye-catching supplementary signage with your business logo (a must!) and additional booth décor. Round-trip shipping costs. Drayage charges at the expo hall. Lots and lots of samples, to display and to hand out. Transportation around Las Vegas to pick up whatever you forgot to bring with you. Meals. Snacks for quick energy. Bottles of water, a particular necessity in a desert climate. A good bottle of wine (or two) to enjoy after a busy day. Not to mention taking advantage of one or more of the Expo’s promotional services — our new-product adverts in the show program drove a great deal of traffic our way.
The saga continues in Part 2 right here.
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