Direct from Market: Los Angeles Winter 2015

Los Angeles is the land of make-believe-for-a-living so it comes as no surprise that the California Market would be replete with innovative products and creations, inspirational messaging and trend-setting styles. It’s also a city that functions on who you know and who can tell a good story, so connecting emotionally and socially is vital to business. Angelenos are no longer dreamers or designers. They are creators and makers. They value local and American manufacturing, enhanced lifestyles and reinvention. So it’s only natural that the LA Mart at The Reef, the California Market Center, and the California Gift Show would create venues that showcase makers’ talents, promote mindful living and encourage relationship building.

To enhance the buyers' experience, the three marts have been working together on their own relationship since summer of 2014 under the "How the West was One" initiative that has seen the markets working together to provide easy transportation and streamline registration between the three buildings as well as collaborate on marketing initiatives to attract attendees. "We are entrenching ourselves in the [southern California] area and letting the attendees know they have a vibrant place to buy a unique mix of product," Dirk Von Gal, industry vice president, Urban Expositions, said about January's market.

Gerry Seibel, vp of new business development, gift and home decor, for the California Market Center, added, "[July] was the first time in the history of the California marketplace that the buildings cooperated with each other. In the future you'll see more cooperation between the venues to elevate the buyers' experience and see the resources." Seibel added, "We have a unique situation with three different venues run by three organizations. Each one of these venues brings something special to the buyers."

It takes more than great product to lure buyers. It takes creating a positive memorable experience, and all the venues set a vibrant tone. General manager, LA Mart, Frank Joens believes “the Southern California buyer is very loyal to the LA Mart. It’s a small community that’s built on relationships and that’s what our business is all about.” He delighted in this year’s turn out. “Friday was incredible. Registration ran non-stop all day. Attendance was high and there was an incredible energy here like back in the ‘80s.”

Makers and Shakers

Upon entering The Reef lobby, show attendees were immediately introduced to The Grommet Wholesale. This new division of The Grommet has been making the Made in Californiashow rounds this season but chose to set up their booth with the LA Mart because it related to Maker City LA, the collective maker workspace housed on the 11th floor of the newly renamed LA Mart building, The Reef: a creative habitat. Jason McCarthy, director of Grommet Wholesale Team, believes “new innovation around product creation has led to the maker movement.” He added that they source items that are problem solvers, products with stories, made in the U.S.A., crowd-funded and new-to-market objects. The G

Inroad Toys PlayTapeInroad Toys' PlayTape
rommet has provided a showcase for garage inventors, and coming to the LA Mart connects their makers with retailers, thus increasing the opportunity to expand business.

PlayTape by Inroad Toys is a roll of easy-tear tape that looks like car lanes or railroad tracks. It sticks to any surface like non-residue painter’s tape and instantly creates an imaginative play surface.

The Grommet wasn’t the only fan of Made in the U.S.A. Several new showrooms only host American-made and designed products. Steven Anthony, for example, just opened his furniture and case goods showroom. He proudly shares that his locally crafted items are built to last and aren’t disposable. They’re made for family use. Anthony also believes, “good design doesn't get dated.”

Barnhart DesignsBarnhart Designs

Sheri Wayt stocks her showroom, Alan & Leigh, with items made from reclaimed objects. The backstory is equally important to her selection process. She opted for wood-turned pepper grinders by a 70+year old artisan at Barnhart Designs and repurposed sailcloth bags by a former world-class sailor, Ella Vickers.

Motivational Messaging

Studio Penny LaneStudio Penny Lane

The Fine Lines showroom not only believes in American-made but also subscribes to the belief that community matters and the products that fill your home should have purpose. From the inspirational wall art to phone covers, pillows, trays and sand-blasted bottles, positive messages in playful fonts encourage us to live better and shout out to the world who we are. It’s as if all those motivational quotes from Instagram have jumped off our phones and onto our giftware.

Southern California’s Studio Penny Lane was created to inspire people to change their circumstances through gratitude and choice, one penny at a time.

DIY Maker Kits

Pepper Carlson, a production designer turned maker, chose to launch her company, Rock Your Kicks at the California Gift Show because

Rock Your KicksRock Your Kicks
she felt it was more personable and she enjoys the one-on-one interaction with potential buyers. She had a couple of artists in her booth painting shoes and showing off how easy and fun her product is to use. She’s proud that her ultimate kit for painting canvas sneakers is almost entirely American-made.

Another locally sourced product line comes from MakersKit. Maker Jawn McQuade decided to exhibit here because he’s LA-based and believed this would be the right show to start with. When he owned clothing stores in northern California he would host in-store crafting events. They became so popular that he closed the stores and went into manufacturing his project kits which range from making soap, to air plants, to stamped jewelry, he said. He also includes an instructional video so Millennials won’t go through technology withdrawl.

All That Glitters Is Gold

Another first time exhibitor was Tattoo Bella, makers of commitment-free metallic jewelry tattoos. They come on sheets, which you simply peel off and apply to skin with a wet towel. Metallic tattoo bracelets were debuted last summer by local LA artist Lulu DK, and now this appears to have become a hot trend for 2015. Two’s Company, Lucky Feather and Love & Madness have all added them to their lines.

It isn’t surprising that this fashion trend would start in Los Angeles, as LA is home to Hollywood and West Coast fashion design and manufacturing. The California Market Center not only hosts numerous clothing and children’s lines, but also gift accessory showrooms as well. Manufacturers often see themselves as “fashion

Mini ManiacsMini Maniacs
industry” and miss out on the gift market so it’s wonderful to access these clothing showrooms during this market. Mini Maniacs offers designer bib slicks that are handmade in the U.S.A. Designs range from “backstage pass” to “surf’s up” to “iBib.”

Each of the three venues have their own personality, but they share one thing in common—they showcase objects designed for better living. These products will either make your life more convenient, make you smarter or make you smile.

The summer California market is scheduled for July 15-20, 2015.

Tara Riceberg | Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor for GDA

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