First Media Event – The Rocky Start

This past week I participated in Outdoor Retailers Get Outdoors-NYC media event to showcase RaesWear and the patented pocket to media outlets in the city. I have known about this event since January and had been confirmed to be a part of it since March, so this was not a last minute idea. My sister, Taylor Garland, agreed to go with me to help talk with folks, wear the skorts, etc. and I was super excited to get this planned. So, I book our flights, hotel room, reserve two mannequins, create a “fact sheet”, design new hang tags, etc. and feel great about how organized I am, how things have come together, and how smooth I know this is going to go. Well, friends, I forgot that not everything goes as planned and that I am not perfect (believe it or not), so let me give you a low-down on how the show started.

outdoorretailerblogAll along I planned for Taylor and I to arrive in NYC on Tuesday, June 7th as setting up was not going to take long and I didn’t need to spend money on another night. But, on Sunday, June 5th as I was finalizing my fact sheet, I got an email from American Airlines alerting me it was time to check-in. I saw this and thought it was odd being a 48 hour check-in reminder, but thought that since TSA lines were long and folks were having a fit, that they had changed policy from a 24-hour check-in to 48, so okay. Well, Monday morning around 8:15 my daughter, Maggie Rae, is showing me how to make Unicorns on her Barbie app on my phone when all of the sudden I realize I booked the wrong date for the flight (10:30 a.m. flight and I live an hour from the airport and wasn’t packed so no way I could make it)!! A heat wave literally overcomes me, my body and face turn red, and I am a hot mess!!! I jump up, run to the computer, call American and learn that it will be $611 per ticket to change the flight from that morning to the following morning and I almost throw up in my mouth…really! I pause and tell the nice lady that I needed another option and she said “if you can get out today, I can get you on the 5:35 p.m. flight and you only have a $75 per ticket change fee because it is a same day flight change”. I am ecstatic! I call Marriott, of which I am a gold member and have been for years because I used to travel quite a bit for work (you may remember as that is how I came up with the pocket idea), and told them I needed to add Monday night to my reservation. The first young man indicated that he could do this and that the room would be $450 and the rest of my nights rooms would increase from $391 to $450 as well – what?! I told him I understood the Monday night rate, but not increasing the rest of my rates when they were already booked, etc. He transferred me to a customer service manager and at first she said the same thing – no way, I am a valued member after all and this is not acceptable, so she then precedes to tell me that she can just alter the reservation for the first night and all things are well and good with Marriott again and my heart rate. I call my sister, and for those that don’t her, she is amazing, but she is also the person that says I’ll be there at 3:00 and is there two hours later, so I was a bit worried she wasn’t going to make it – had to pack herself, get her nails done (they were a mess from her moving the week before and she couldn’t come up with chipped nails), and pack her two boys who were going to our parents. But, believe it or not, she was calm when I told her the news, pulled all of her and the boys stuff together, got her nails done, and was at my house by 1:00! Her calmness made me calm down a bit too which was great because I had the following still to do:

  • Print 200 of my fact sheets and press release
  • Get my nails done
  • Pack me
  • Pack RaesWear inventory
  • Pick up skorts with new patterns from my manufacturer I wanted to show
  • Pick up the RaesWear table cloth as it needed our new logo on it (font changed a bit)
  • Shower
  • Get cash, etc.

Remember, I thought I had all day to get this done and be prepared for my 10:30 flight the next morning. But, now I had six hours and was freaking out. Lucky for me, I have a fantastic husband who  packed the RaesWear bag, went to Office Max and got the prints done, picked up the inventory, and got the table cloth. Maggie Rae and I went to get our nails done and when we returned, I was able to shower, pack up me, and Taylor and I were having beers at GSO by 4:00 waiting for our plane (I was not about to wait last minute to leave to get there as I normally would have because with my day, I figured we would sit in traffic for construction an accident or something and miss the flight).

We arrive into LGA around 7:00 that evening, get our cab, check-in to our hotel and enjoy our night out on the town. Tuesday was great as well as we shopped for fabrics, ate lunch outside, people watched, and set up our booth. Now, remember, I had booked mannequins. These two lovely plastic figures were supposed to arrive between 2 and 4 that day, but by 4:00 they were still a no show. I called the company and left a message that we were leaving but to drop the mannequins off and we would dress them first thing Wednesday morning. Around 5:30 that night, I get a call from the company saying its driver was sick and could not drop them off on Tuesday, but could get them to me around 10:30 or so on Wednesday morning. Now, my problem here is that the mannequins were $391 for 2 days (ridiculous, I know!) and the show started at 8:30 and I wasn’t going to stop speaking to someone from WSJ, Good Housekeeping, or anyone else to receive and dress these lovely ladies. So, I confer with my assistant for the week, and we cancel the order. This actually worked out well as we were really the models anyway, so it was a blessing that I could save $391 to offset the fees incurred with my travel booking missteps :).

From here on out, the show didn’t have one down! It was a crazy start, but once we got there, set up and people started to come through, things went amazingly well! The product was well received and people have already started to comment on it via Twitter and Instagram and I feel confident it will be written about in the coming weeks.

But, I write all of this, to remind us that we are not perfect and things are not always going to go as planned, but God’s got a plan. He knew it was better for us to arrive a day earlier than expected and He found a way for me to offset costs by cancelling the mannequins. So, we have to put our trust and faith in God and ourselves and just keep it moving forward. Things will work out in the end.

Tip of the Blog – Do not panic, crumble, and fall apart when things don’t go as planned. Pull up your big girl or boy pants and just correct your mistakes the best you can and keep it moving! This is for life as well as being an entrepreneur, taking steps forward no matter what has happened in the past is the only way to progress. Had I panicked and just said “forget it, no one is going to like my stuff anyway”, (don’t think this didn’t enter my mind at 8:40 when I learned another $1250 was needed to change my flights) I would have missed out a wonderful event and the exposure opportunities I now face.

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