Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our Trip to the Atlanta Mart

    We're back!  My mom and I just got back from the Merchandise Mart in Atlanta.  We brought our friend Susan and my boyfriend, Chris, to help us make decisions about what to order for this year's holiday gift items, next year's spring and Valentine's Day merchandise, and of course to look for new lines to carry.
Here's a picture of my mom and Susan waiting for the shuttle in the airport parking lot.  Notice my mom's new animal print luggage.  She was so excited about it!

This was taken at like 5:30 am

    Our plane ride was nice and smooth.  It left right on time and as my mom always describes the excitement, we had a "tickle" in our tummies.  See how happy she looks?
Sipping a smoothie

    After dropping our luggage at our hotel, The Twelve (which ended up being really nice, except for the lack of service and the condom wrapper we found on our floor), we went straight to the mart.  I headed with my boyfriend for the permanent decor showrooms while my mom and Susan went to the gift building. 

   First, I visited one of my favorite showrooms, KD Vintage.  I ordered a fabulous collection of beach themed Christmas items.  (Most of our Christmas was ordered in January, but I added a few must-haves) 

This is a picture of the overall showroom:  Looks fun right?  Don't worry, I ordered a lot!
They use vintage furniture to display just like us!

Next, it was off to another favorite permanent showroom, Bethany Lowe.  To my delight, Bethany herself took my order.  She was really sweet and her daughter was helping out too.  I am kicking myself for not asking for a picture of her.  What was I thinking?  Here's her showroom:
The entrance to Bethany Lowe Designs

A spring Display

After placing the Valentine's Day 2011 and Spring 2011 orders, we headed to ESC for more vintage inspired goodies.  The showroom isn't quite as creative as some of the others, but the products are wonderful and the prices are even better.
The entrance to ESC


Here are some little princesses I ordered for the baby area of our store.  They have little crowns and signs with glass glitter.  I think they will be great gifts.


I ordered Valentine's Day here too.  Last year, our V-Day selection was disappointing, so I made special effort this year to get the good stuff.
Valentine's at ESC
Bunnies galore

 Several showrooms and hours later, the market was closing and we met up with my mom and Susan and went back to the hotel.  We spent the evening planning our second day and talking excitedly about all the things we'd found and ordered.  I spent a lot of time entering orders into my budget and calculating cash flow so we would know what could ship and when for our new orders.  The view from our hotel was spectacular.

View from the Twelve Hotel

     The next morning, we all focused more on gift items in the permanent showrooms.  I found a new line of french soaps that were reasonably priced that could easily be picked up for a little gift.

New french soaps

The four of us met up and came across some huge chocolate bars in beautiful, vintage packaging that we HAD to have for the store.  Some say Happy Birthday, some will be for Halloween, some Christmas.  Cute huh?

Chocolate bars coming in September

  My mom and Susan found these glitter chandelier silhouettes that actually light up and hang from the ceiling for the kids section of the store.  They were really reasonable too.  I think they will be around $85.  We got them in pink, white, and aqua. 

See the light in the center?  I would have loved one of these as a little girl.

 One of the gift items for the holidays were these cute, vintage packaged "Grow Your Own" kits.  We got the Chrsitmas tree, Amaryllis, peppermint, and Lavender kits.  Here's what the packages look like:

Little kits would make a fun gift

We spent the rest of the day ordering many new things including lots of jewelry.  My boyfriend was such a good sport!  He didn't complain the entire time even though he really wasn't interested!  He's a keeper!

Chris, my patient boyfriend and me in front of a showroom.

 By the end of the second day, we were exhausted.  However, the real excitement started on the third day when the temporaries opened, so we got a little boost.  Just to give you an idea, here's the view from the top of the building. 

See the clear glass elevators on the right?
Here's the view from inside the glass elevator:
There are a lot of floors filled with booths

  We were too overwhelmed to take any more pictures of the temporary booths.  The reps are literally trying to get you to stop in their booth and yelling out to you or demonstrating products.  It's fun but stressful.  We ordered lots of jewelry and a few baby things in this area.
   On the last day of our trip, we made our way to the cash and carry section.  This is where, instead of writing orders, you can grab what you want and take it with you.  It was crazy!  People get really pushy and desperate when they think someone else is going to grab what they want!  We actually got yelled at for taking pictures but here are the ones we got.
People shopping in cash and carry
more people shopping
The booth where we spent the most time
A bracelet we grabbed

By the end of the last day, and after a delayed flight and broken down van, we were exhausted.  However, I think it was our most productive trip to market ever and we had a lot of fun.  It's the first time we've taken the time to document the trip, so we hope you've enjoyed reading about it.  Now all we have to do is wait for everything that we ordered....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Interview with Artist, Designer, and Mom, Susan Medart

I've often remarked that The White Rabbit wouldn't be The White Rabbit without our favorite local designer, Susan Medart of Knollwood Lane.  My mom and I have gotten to know this creative St. Louis native as a friend as well as business connection, and want our blog readers to get to know her too.  We treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner at Cardwells the other night while we interviewed her.  I'm not going to lie; it was a great excuse to have a glass of wine and giggle for several hours, but we stuck to the task at hand and got some great answers to our questions

Susan's handmade notecards

LM-How did you get started creating handmade goods?

SM-I would literally wake up in the middle of the night with ideas of things I wanted to make.  I started out making for friends and gradually began doing trunk shows with decoupaged goods.  At the time, my kids were younger and it was taking too much time away from them, so I stopped doing the trunk shows and started looking for a store to carry my creations.

                                                              Handmade baby onesies
LM- Why did you pick The White Rabbit to carry Knollwood Lane?

SM- The second I walked in, I liked it.  It had the vintage inspired look that would work perfectly with my vintage images.  There was a bucket with an image in the baby section, and I looked at the price and thought, "I could make that cheaper for them."  And that was the beginning.

                                                           Knollwood Lane hand towels

LM-How old are your kids now?

SM- My oldest, Griffin is 17, Mason is 15 and my daughter Hayden is 12.  They're very supportive now that they're older.

                                                             New handmade jewelry by Susan

LM-Is your husband supportive of your business?

SM-He is a very patient person.  We've been married 20 years and  he still buys my ink, replaces my paper supply, and changes the light bulbs in my studio.

                                                               Adorable hair clips for little ones

LM-So how did you come up with the name Knollwood Lane?
SM- Knollwood Lodge is a peaceful, private, secluded lodge on a lake in Wisconsin that's been in my family for many years and it's on Knollwood Lane.  It's a magical place full of antiques that inspires me.

                                                            Knollwood Lodge in Wisconsin
LM- What else inspires you?

SM- I love Country Living.  Sometimes it's just an image that inspires me.  I'll see something and think, what can I do with that?  Sometimes a place can inspire me.  Like, when I go to Florida, I want to make all kinds of beach inspired things. 

LM- Do you have a favorite creation?

SM- I think my suitcases are my favorite.  They are all of my favorite things: Simple, cute and old fashioned.
My favorite images are the brown puppy because I love dogs, the leaping lamb because it's sweet, and the Boston Terrier because it makes me laugh. 

                                                              One of Susan's little suitcases
LM-My mom and I are a little obsessed with your workshop. Can you describe it for our readers?

SM-We put an addition on the house specifically for my workshop.  It has a large table in the middle for messy creating and around the outside is the "stuff."  I basically filled antique vases and found objects (from her travels in Wisconsin and The White Rabbit of course) with things like ribbon, paper, glitter and fabric scraps.  There is also a computer filled with vintage images that I use on almost all of my art.

Here are some pictures of the workshop so you can see for yourself how fun it looks!

LM- What is your dream for the future of Knollwood Lane?

SM- I want to do it until it's a job.
We hope you stop in to see Susan's newest projects in the store soon!  She brings her new creations to The White Rabbit almost weekly.  She also loves custom orders and welcomes a challenge.  We also plan to do a trunk show for Christmas, so stay tuned for the date! -Angie and Lindsay