What I Love About Market

I’m writing this blog from Las Vegas, having just spent my first day at the Magic Apparel Show, the biggest international clothing market in the United States. The MAGIC show, as it is known in the industry, draws some 80,000 people to Las Vegas every February and August who converge on a multitude of apparel markets. Vendors, manufacturers, fabric sellers and buyers all come to either sell or buy goods.

The energy is frenetic as the best lines bustle with buyers, sometimes disintegrating into the most aggressive getting serviced first. Today, I was poised with a top in my hand as I moved it toward the rack where I was gathering the styles I wanted to purchase, when another buyer took the item right out of my hand. When I looked at her with shock, she simply said to me, “I need to see this for a minute to see if I want it.” She held it up, looked it over and then deposited it back in my hand. Not being an overly aggressive person, I just stared in disbelief through the whole process.

But more often than not, the frenetic energy is a good thing because you are in an environment that is happening, hip and on the cutting edge. When, as a buyer, I travel between the junior, contemporary missy, and missy sections, it is like traveling through different countries. The music, technology, and people in the junior portion of the market mean that my mom and I have to yell at each other at times to communicate in a show room. In the middle of buying, listening to One Republic over the speaker system in the booth, a new beat breaks out near by accompanied by cheering from the audience watching the flash mob in the next isle. And, while I am navigating all this noise, I am wondering about the people walking around in kitty suits with hello kitty backpacks. “Probably just an advertizing stunt,” I think to myself. Then my attention is drawn away again by the flashing digital sign advertizing the booth. To say it is sensory overload is to make a large understatment.

As we travel into contemporary missy and then the missy portions of the market, the pace and the noise lessens, the craziness calms and the frenetic pace slows. Now we shop booths where we are offered seats and beverages and a vendor who shows us the line one piece at a time. I leave the market exhausted, both mentally and physically but energized at the same time.

And as I reflect on the whole day, I feel fortunate to be in this business and be part of all that energy, both positive and negative. I am glad the clothing industry offers the unexpected, the new and fresh and the classy and refined all at once. It keeps me young.

Have a Little Fun

I discovered, or re-discovered, something very important last week. When you get a little sideways with someone you love, set the feelings aside and go out together and have some fun.

When my husband and I were going through a rough time in our marriage, we discovered this tactic. Now, looking back, I credit it and the grace of God for getting us through intact. To be frank, there were times we really didn’t like each other any more. We had been fighting about the same things for so long we had forgotten all the reasons we fell in love. And yet in the midst of this, we could set all that aside, go out to dinner and have fun. How? We made rules about what we could and couldn’t talk about. The key was to keep the conversation about things that we weren’t fighting about. We looked for areas of agreement and we just had fun. We laughed, ate good food, had a little wine. The next day, we might be right back to fighting but those “escapes” away from the tension saved us.

So, last week, after a tense few days at the store, my mom and I were invited out to dinner with two vendors. On the drive to the restaurant, we avoided talking about our areas of disagreement and focused on things that were not difficult subjects. Once there, we ate good food, laughed with friends, talked about the retail business and had a little wine – well I did, mom doesn’t drink. At the end of the night the tension was gone and we had a pleasant ride home together.

So the moral of the story is to force yourself to set aside your differences with those you love and focus on relationship building. There will be plenty of time for arguments. Some things will get resolved and others won’t, but having a little fun can really help you make it through.