MAGIC Trip Report: Vicki Clairborne
Last but not least is this is trip report from Vickie Claiborne of Tung Gear Inc, recounting her experiences of walking the MAGIC show for the first time.
I arrived at the show full of wide eyed wonder over how large the show actually is! I had no idea there were going to be this many booths to try to take in in the 2 1/2 days I had allotted to walk around plus take in the seminars I wanted to absorb so I plunged in. The first seminar wanted to attend was scheduled to start in the afternoon, approx an hour after I had arrived, so I made my way through the maze of buildings and found the room for Mercedes’ How to start a fashion line’ seminar. In that seminar, I found that I couldn’t write down enough information fast enough. This was the first time I’d been to a seminar in the fashion industry, and here were real, tangible ideas and facts that I could bite into. I enjoyed the seminar so much that after it was over, I got up to go buy the powerpoint booklet, and it was during that time that I sat down next to Kathleen and we struck up a conversation about the seminar and the industry as a whole. She graciously invited me to join some of her friends later on during the tradeshow as well, so that I could meet some of her other designer entrepreneurs and do some networking. I was extremely thrilled to have met her, and felt very lucky as well. (I have since bought her book too!)
After this seminar, I headed straight for the Sourcing show floor, and began walking up and down the many aisles of fabrics and trims from numerous countries. Actually, this was the most boring part of the show to me, but then, do fabric suppliers need exciting booths?? Perhaps they do, as many of these felt so uninviting that I walked right on past them with only a glance… Not really knowing anything about how to negotiate with anyone too, I felt a little timid about approaching them to talk about fabrics…So I walked the show floor, asked for a few flyers from a couple of places, and kept moving..
After walking this floor for a couple of hours, I wanted to find the women’s clothing, so I headed back to the first hall and started walking through the Juniors and Young Contemporary sections. I found a few places that had some very cool, hip stuff that I wanted to touch and look at more closely, and I did go in a few booths and talk to the sales reps. What I learned is that if I were a retailer, it appears to be pretty easy to buy a line of clothes for your store! While walking through this section, I also realized I was seeing the clothes that are soon going to be for sale in our local stores, and it made me realize how truly un-free fashion can be (in other words, there are people deciding what we can wear and when we get to wear it!)… I know, this sounds like such a simple concept, but I am completely new to the fashion world, and I really thought the whole thing was one big free-for-all in terms of fabrics, colors, styles, etc.. As I walked around I began to feel alot more confident that my business skills were going to serve me well and that I had as good a chance as anyone to be able to be successful in this business. By the end of the day, I felt so energized and revitalized that I went back to my room and began to narrow the scope of what my immediate future for my business is going to be..
I got a good start on the day so that I could make 2 seminars, the first one being around noon and the second one around 3. The first one was about trademarks, patents and legal stuff, and the second one was about Building a Brand. Both of these seminars were so informative for me, and I found that my instincts on the business side of things had been good ( I already have incorporated as well as filed for trademarks), and my brand is already starting to become established in my niche market through the types of advertising and events that I have sponsored). I felt like I hadn’t been too far off base with these details, but that I just needed some fine tuning in a few areas. SO of course, that’s what I am working on now…
In between the 2 seminars, I finished walking the Womens’ show floor and took a glance through the licensing section. After the second seminar ended, I was pretty tired, and I was supposed to meet up with Kathleen’s friends, so I meandered through the jewelry and accessories show floor on my way to the Hilton bar. It was during this walk that I met a man who makes leather bags by hand, and I spoke with him about leather choices, and he explained to me that certain leathers are available at certain times, just like fabrics.. I never knew!
The evening with Kathleen and her friends was so rewarding for me, I got to meet a few fellow entrepreneurs and that helped me to understand how we all fit into this big picture together. I was so happy to have met them all!
This being my last day in town, I attended the show early and left by 3. I tackled the Streetwear show floor and immediately felt the difference in energy level here. There is so much more excitement on that floor than any of the other show floors ( in fact, the MENS show floor is so stuffy and stodgy, that I wanted to run right through it to get out of it!). I liked the energy of the streetwear floor actually, I think the young DEs in that field are challenging the boundaries of the stuffy men’s and women’s shows, and that uncomfortable feeling is good to keep things fresh. Now, the products they are selling are all very much the same from booth to booth, mostly t-shirts and baggy jeans, but I have to say, the time that each of the Streetwear booth designers spent on their concepts for their booths was time well spent. The energy on that floor made me want to be a part of that scene, even though I’m no where near a part of that scene… now, to me, that’s the point of a good booth!
I left Vegas with the feeling that my clothes don’t quite belong at MAGIC, at least not at this point in time, but I did very much enjoy going to MAGIC and felt that the seminars and my experience of meeting Kathleen and her friends made the whole trip worth every minute. So I’d say to anyone thinking about going, GO! Jump in, but be open to meeting the people in the audiences because you never know who’s sitting next to you!