Paper Camp 2014

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Paper Camp. I know – pretty funny name, right?! My husband had visions of an adult slumber party with paper…which wasn’t too far from the truth. Overall, the weekend turned out to be an incredible experience. In the course of just two days, I gained invaluable tips on how to hone and grow my business and met so many incredible, talented women. I went home with more knowledge than I could handle, many new friends and one HUGE swag bag (more on that later).  Thinking about going yourself? Here’s the scoop:

Before the event even started, the founder of Trade Show Bootcamp, Katie Hunt pumped everyone up with a pre-camp mailer. The custom surprise arrived via snail mail about a week and half before camp and really set the tone for the entire weekend. To start, let’s just say these ladies GET paper. Katie also created fun, Paper Camp branded images for us to share on social media. The branding for the entire weekend was spot on. Everything had a cohesive feel and the branding really united all elements of the event.

When the weekend of Paper Camp finally arrived, the first 20 minutes felt like the first day of school. A little bit of the “who am I going to sit with at lunch” syndrome took over and I quickly made an effort to introduce myself to the ladies around me. That newbie feeling quickly melted away as I began chatting with the 25 other talent, inspiring women in the room. Over the course of the weekend, I can honestly say I met some truly incredible women that I know I will stay in contact with for years to come!

After everyone checked and received our custom laser-printed name tags, we made our way into the conference room which was decked out in all kinds of Paper Camp swag. Each camper had a customized notepad, clipboard and of course, the highly coveted Paper Camp manual with everything you need to know about creating a kickass wholesale arm for your business. Once everyone was settled in, the camp leaders got right down to business. And let me tell you – THESE LADIES MEAN BUSINESS!

The leaders in the room were all industry experts who represented numerous sides of the paper business. Over the course of two full days, they shared their experiences, insight, secrets and pitfalls. Katie of Tradeshow boot camp served as the moderator for the weekend and helped guide the questions and conversations. Carina and Kim of Crow and Canary shared amazing insights, helped campers learn what card reps are looking for and how to prepare your business for working with a rep.  Julie of Sweet Paper in La Jolla attended to speak on behalf of what buyers are looking for in your card line. She did an incredible job of explaining the buying habits of retailers, what timeline they purchase on and most importantly, all of their pet peeves. On the designer front, Rachael of Pistachio Press, Claudia of Fig 2 Design, Amber of Fly Wheel Press, and Erika of Delphine all shared incredible information on how they “grew up” in the paper industry – DOs and DON'Ts, hard lessons learned, and more. Each of them brought something incredibly unique to the group dynamic and they all played an important role in the weekend. Often, the group leaders would strongly disagree on a topic and I thought this was one of the most genuine elements of the conference. They basically shared that there is never one “right way” to do things and these ladies were perfect examples of that. Each had very different opinions on everything from booth design to selling to consumers and the camp allowed me to see all of those different perspectives.

Some of the fine ladies at Paper Camp 2014!

In addition to the camp leaders, we had the opportunity to meet with Ronnie of DeFrance Printing to discuss a variety of printing options, as well as meet with Carlos of Manny Stone to learn all of the various options for booth installations at NSS. During each break, we had the opportunity to browse through a "tools table" that housed example catalogs, wedding suites, NSS mailers, booth carpet and flooring samples and more. It was great to see how many options are out there and actually be able to touch them in person. It was refreshing to see that many big companies, simply do a tasteful, functional catalog and mailer and that you don’t have to go crazy to compete.

After each break, we would return to find special surprises at our table. The campers began to refer to it as the “stationery fairy” and we received everything from Poppin office gear to greeting cards and beautiful letterpress prints. And the best part of the HUGE Swag Bags we received…all of the items were created by Paper Camp Alums! Another element I enjoyed, were the numerous opportunities to socialize with the group leaders throughout the weekend in more casual settings. From a group dinner to various social/happy hours, there were many chances for great conversations to be had and additional questions to be answered.

Our incredible Paper Camp Leaders!

Our incredible Paper Camp Leaders!

Overall, I would say that Paper Camp is 100% worth the investment in your business. If you’re serious about creating a card line or stationery company, then Paper Camp is a must! The only problem is that once someone tells you everything you need to know, you suddenly have 5,000 new questions and the process starts all over again... hopefully, there will be many alumni events to come!

Can't wait to put all of this learning into action!

- Paper Epiphanies