If you want to experience a bit of culture shock, spend a couple of days in Bredasdorp, South Africa – where Kapula Candles is located – then jump on an overnight flight that departs from Cape Town and arrive the next morning in New York City. Wow – Jet lag aside, it is a real eye opener!
We just attended the NY Now Gift show. What an amazing event. Picture over 100,000 products in 400+ product categories on display for 25,000 retailers representing all 50 states and 80+ countries. The attendees are there to select what they wish to feature in his/her shop, or on-line store. EVERY kind of gift product you can imagine from fancy popcorn and bagel ‘cleaners’ to personalized stationery and gold crusted dishes, every kind of severing platter you can imagine and loads of jewellery, hand bags, all sorts of kitchen utensils, carpets, hair accessories, and SO much more! The show is also dotted with journalists who write for publications featuring home goods, home décor, gifting, jewellery, etc. etc. all looking for the next feature article or the most interesting products that will take their next blog viral.
The show floor stretches over 550,000 sq. feet on three levels in the Javits Centre on the West side of New York City, as well as another Pier about a 15 minute bus ride uptown. Truly an international event for both exhibitors and retailers…. in our section alone which featured Fair Trade & hand made products, there was representation from Peru, Ghana, Colombia, Ecuador, Vietnam, Haiti, Guatemala, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uzbekistan, India, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Laos and Thailand… just to name a few!
The first day is total grunt work for Becky and I trying to set up our booth which is hard labour with no a/c! Day 2 the show opens and the next 4 days are total overload of people, talking, showing and sharing.
In the midst of ALL this product, when a retailer stopped dead in his/her tracks and exclaimed ‘these candles beautiful!’ Becky and I stood proudly and told the story that goes with the product; these beautiful candles are handmade & hand painted in this small town – two worlds away! Every candle is carefully crafted by the talented company-trained artists at Kapula who all know how important the sale of each and every candle is to help them support themselves and their families.
Four intense days of ‘love in’ with our current customers who stopped by as well as meeting many many new ones, made for an exhausting – but very rewarding time. As a new little company, we left feeling that we are really on to something. But, and most importantly, we know that each sale we made makes a difference to the lives of so many back in the Kapula factory.
The finale is taking DOWN the booth – again totally rough work. And, after a week in Manhattan, I was happy to head back to the peace of my home in South Africa, not too far from Bredasdorp – two worlds away!