Alumni Spotlight Loudhouse CreativeWe love to spotlight our TSBC alums because we believe there is always something we can learn from one another’s experiences. Francesca Fuges of Loudhouse Creative recently exhibited at the Las Vegas Market; her second tradeshow in the last year. We sat down with Francesca to get her feedback on the show. But first, her story.

Francesca started Loudhouse Creative in 2013, primarily as a design firm working with branding and packaging clients. In 2015, she stumbled upon letterpress printing and started making greeting cards for friends and family. She fell in love with the process of printing and wanted to expand her design work into sellable products.

Although she was new to the paper business, Francesca signed up for the National Stationery show immediately. Knowing she needed help marketing her new business and figuring out the mysteries of selling wholesale and trade shows, she joined us for Paper Camp in 2015 before her National Stationery Show debut.

Prior to NSS, Francesca spent time developing her product line to include greeting cards, gift items and she added a holiday collection.  She researched retail stores that had a similar aesthetic to her cards and created a mailer introducing herself and her line.  Both exercises are key to creating a solid wholesale foundation.

Las Vegas Market | January 2017

Francesca is freshly back from the Las Vegas Market, where she was one of the Artisanal LA vendors. She used hard-walls for her 7’ by 6’ space, which was located toward the back of the show but on an end-cap giving her lots of space to spread out. She used vinyl signage for her logo and booth number. She utilized two types of shelves to display her cards and also hung an aisle sign to draw traffic into her booth.

“Since my location was less than desirable, I had to hustle for my orders,” she said. “I’m not a natural hustler so it was a growth experience for me. But the retailers were so nice and many from stores I wouldn’t normally think to send mailers to, like pharmacies, clothing boutiques, hotel gift shops, etc.”

The overall vibe of the Las Vegas Market was very different from the NSS as well. While it was a little slow, the cost of doing the show was significantly less than the NSS.

“I felt a lot less intimidated than I did at NSS and therefore it was easier to talk to people. Since there were only a handful of stationers (it’s primarily a gift show), we were able to stand out a bit from the other vendors.”

Francesca was comfortable with her investment in the show and pleased with the results.  Participating in a shared booth lowered her exhibiting costs and Artisanal took care of logistics like ordering walls and lighting removing items from her to do list. Francesca felt that the energy in Las Vegas was slower than New York, yet she received the same number of orders at both shows — but the order in Las Vegas were higher volume and larger dollar amounts. Francesca said that show management was very accommodating and sent a crew to unload her car and bring her boxes to her space!

What I’d Do Different in Biz

“I created and launched my line within a year (while also learning to letterpress and trying to discover my illustrative style). Looking back on it, though I’m glad I created a deadline for myself, I would have taken a bit more time to really craft my line, particularly my illustrations, and figure out my ‘look’ instead of rushing to be ready for a launch date that was self-inflicted. Since NSS, I’ve gone back and changed several cards in order to make them more visually interesting and removed cards that I was unhappy with.”

Biggest Tip for Newbies

“Find your unique voice and style in order to stand out in the market. Be selective with what you put out into the world and make sure your line looks like a collection. Create rules for yourself to follow as a guide—colors (envelopes and overall palette), font style, tone (funny, sweet, snarky). This helps in creating a cohesive line and building a successful brand. That said, don’t let the rules stifle you. They can be broken. It’s your business. To quote Cartman, ‘Whatever, I do what I want.’”

Of course, we want to shout out some of the other alums who were also at Las Vegas Market. Congrats to Cara at Underwood Letterpress, Alex of Chez Gagné, Lisa of Tiramisu Paperie and Julie of Kiss and Punch Designs.

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