We all do it: prep for tradeshow, go to tradeshow, recover from tradeshow, write about tradeshow.
Writers from all corners of the industry work hard to capture their experiences and share them with their various audiences. Blogs appear with everything from beautiful galleries of well-curated photos and thoughtful commentary to top-whatever lists of trends spotted, designers discovered, and cocktails consumed.
Along with the rest of the industry, I devour them all. The insights are universally valuable, each targeting its own niche and informing us of different perspectives and often a huge variety of experiences. No single person can be everywhere during Vegas Jewelry Week, so we rely on this somewhat informal network to piece together a bird’s-eye view of what happened in the ballrooms or back alleys we couldn’t see.
So what’s my contribution this year? No fancy photos. No lists (please, no more lists). No breaking news, earth-shattering insights, or delightful narratives.
My day job allows me the privilege of “walking the show(s)” in order to conduct business, so my version of flitting from booth to booth resembles nothing short of multiple, back-to-back marathons at record-setting pace in stilettos on deep-pile carpet. That’s not a metaphor, people. It’s what I do.
This means that I do a lot of talking, walking, loupe-ing, more talking, more running, standing, talking, fast walking, tweezer-ing, handshaking, slow walking, chatting, limping, croaking, squinting, band-aiding, and occasionally slamming back a hastily-poured scalding hot coffee so I can do it all again.
Glamorous and blog-feature-worthy, it ain’t. But it’s the daily ritual of reality for the legions of show attendees who possess exhibitor and buyer badges, as opposed to those coveted press passes that seem to shrink in availability every year.
My point is this: while I do get to transact business and occasionally spend a minute or two smiling with longtime friends and colleagues at their respective booths, my time is not my own. My observations involve the tenor and temperature of the working industry, the nitty-gritty buying and selling that takes place not just in the lush confines of high-ceilinged ballrooms upstairs but in the depths of the “basement” levels where booths aren’t beautiful (and sometimes the product isn’t, either) and nobody is offering you a glass of Chardonnay at 4pm.
This year, the outlook was universally that of grim resignation combined with a dash of pragmatic optimism. We as an industry have been through this before — some would argue that the doldrums have been ongoing since the recession more than a decade ago — and we will collectively be there on the other side. The feeling is that of a long, drawn-out conflict: we will lose comrades and battles, but ultimately will win the war and be stronger for it. The world of luxury isn’t go away, but the tidal wave of change is sweeping through and leaving quite the wreckage behind.
Just tell the guys in the impossible-to-locate loose gemstone mini-ballrooms not to lose hope. If I could find you (by accident, while looking for the restroom, but still), then surely someone else will, too.
Thanks for the memories yet again, Paradise. See you next year.