Perhaps the most-talked-about event at the summer edition of the Las Vegas Market 2015 was what the show organizers called “the re-imagining” of the temporary exhibits as The Pavilions (i.e. the exterior tents located on the Las Vegas Market campus), which had not been used as exhibitor space since the early years in the Market’s development before Buildings B and C were completed.
Before the Las Vegas Market began, there was some trepidation that buyers might not want to walk from the main campus of Buildings A, B, and C (which are additionally linked through glass skyways on several floors, allowing easy access without attendees having to venture outside to travel between them) to the exterior tents (i.e. Pavilions) located a short distance away in the summer heat. However, unlike in years past, this time there was a covered pedestrian path for buyers to reach the Pavilions, plus the option of a quick shuttle ride.
It was at The Pavilions that buyers looking for cool accessories and impulse items for their showrooms hit pay dirt. Most interestingly, there were many small companies exhibiting in the Pavilions that had never been seen at any trade show before. There were a few exhibitors who had either appeared on the TV show Shark Tank or had been approached by the TV show’s production staff and in the process of having their auditions evaluated. What makes this noteworthy is the uniqueness of these exhibitors.
For example, there was Rachel Bollin of B&N Laundry, based in California. When her husband was going through a tough medical crisis, she decided it would be a good time to rid her house of any chemicals. This mom of twin girls (age three and a half) then distracted herself from the medical stress by getting busy. She began experimenting with making laundry products – dryer balls, detergent, and stain remover – using goat’s milk and wool.
“Wool makes your clothes really soft,” Bollin says of her 100-percent wool dryer balls. “It’s a great, eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and typical plastic dryer balls; who wants to heat up plastic?” she explains. The wool balls are already pre-shrunk during her manufacturing process (made in the USA) and are reusable.
Bollin’s friends and neighbors became her first test audience for the products she made, such as the goat’s milk all-natural stain remover with felted wool on one end. For example, she learned (from an enthusiastic neighbor) that her stain remover could get out chocolate stains, and she learned the hard way (thanks to her twins) that it could get out red Sharpie marker stains out of a white fabric headboard. Soon the hobby became a real company (named after her daughters’ initials) that eventually required a larger manufacturing facility in California. Now that her husband has recovered from his illness, Bollin has been able to devote full-time to growing her company.
A few short aisles away from B&N Laundry was the Montrose family. Beauty industry veteran, renowned stylist, and salon owner Deanna Montrose has been operating the Scissors Rox Paper salon in Phoenix for years and her clientele has long-enjoyed paraffin wax treatments for their hands and feet.
Deanna’s husband, Weston, explains that one of the earliest uses of paraffin was to ease the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis. Seeing a need for a similar at-home treatment that wouldn’t be as time-consuming or messy as the salon method, Deanna began experimenting with a portable version to give her clients a similar experience with the same benefits. She devised – and patented – a paraffin treatment infused with coconut oil and lavender hand and foot treatment that she calls the gLOVE® Treat. After making them available to her spa’s clients, their popularity caused her to start exhibiting at trade shows. Each gLOVE Treat can be reused for a total of four times (considered to be a one-month supply), and the glove stays warm for 15 minutes.
An immediate hit with hospital gift shops, the gLOVE Treat has also found a following among garden and hardware store owners. “Their customers often have rough hands,” Weston Montrose points out.
Another truly novel accessory that will probably resonate with lighting showroom buyers is Tiffany’s Tools — pretty tool kits designed for females by a female. Entrepreneur Harry Clark was living in California and happened to be on a group ride with other Harley-Davidson® enthusiasts when he met Tiffany, a ballerina and fellow Hog rider who also had an interesting business idea. She told him she wanted to make a portable tool kit that would be attractive and female-friendly. Clark put her in touch with people who could make her idea a reality and helped her launch her business; now he is the CEO of the company.
While exhibiting the Tiffany’s Tools line at the Atlanta market a little more than three years ago, his booth was next to a female entrepreneur from Arizona named Heather, who created a line of decorative luggage tags, hair headbands, and ponytail holders called Pomchies. “The name means a pom-pom that met a scrunchie,” she explains. The two began talking and immediately hit off — so much so that Harry relocated to Arizona and the two are now married. The Pomchies line has grown to include key keepers, wine charms, and soon dog collar accessories. Heather Clark’s line is made overseas, but she has a short lead time and can create custom color combinations – NFL and collegiate colors are a specialty – or proprietary versions for customers (only a 50-quanity minimum for custom orders).
Not far away was Olivia Spatz of Beach House Candles, a home-based business right in Las Vegas. Spatz creates a line of flameless candles – sold in cubes of six – that can go in a plug-in electric warmer (not sold through Beach House). Each is hand-poured to order and Spatz can do private label or “custom fills” to create a signature scent for a boutique. There are 18 aromas overall, but she often rotates in seasonal blends.
For Spatz, candle-making started when she was a restaurant server and would relax in her room after a shift with a scented candle burning. Soon she began making her own candles. “It’s a totally clean product and eco-friendly,” she explains. Spatz started selling her line at the local farmers’ market and then set out on the road, driving through Northern California, calling on wineries. She now works with 40 wineries, upcycling their wine bottles by using them as candleholders and creating scents for the wineries’ tasting rooms.
Nearby was William Taber of Exotic Sands™, who manufactures sand pictures in wooden frames (alder or cherry) or metal (in black and silver anodized aluminum) in Utah. “I’m really more of an inventor than an artist,” Taber admits. His fascination with creating sand art goes back to childhood, when his mother bought him a sand picture as a gift. “It was called Magic Window by Wham-o,” he recalls. Taber tinkered with the mechanics and holds a patent for the process he came up with for his framed art, which features double-strength glass and a non-toxic liquid inside. “You never see the same scene twice,” he notes of each piece’s uniqueness. The Exotic Sands line is sold in many national parks’ gift stores.
The Pavilions was also a spot to re-discover a familiar face: high-end lampshade and lamp designer Charles Marder of Mi Alma Lighting in Los Angeles. “For the last five years, I haven’t exhibited anywhere,” Marder confesses. Instead, he kept busy catering to special clients, some of which are celebrities or heads of state in other countries. “I’ve been called the Valentino of lampshades,” he comments.
While Marder is most known for rich velvets and luxurious “heavy” fabrics, he has updated his signature look to reflect consumer tastes. “I’ve reinvented the line by doing lighter and airier fabrics,” he explains, adding with a smile, “We’re calling this our Garden of Eden Collection.”
All of the lampshades are made in Los Angeles, and all of the lamp bases are antiques. “We do some customization,” Marder adds. His booth did not go unnoticed by buyers browsing the Pavilions. “People are like moths to the light,” he laughs.
The Pavilions was deemed a success, not only by exhibitors, but also buyers and organizers of the Las Vegas Market. It is expected that designating the Pavilions as a source for decorative accessories will be repeated at upcoming markets.