Our experience at h+h americas’ second trade show far exceeded our expectations, and I’d love to share what we liked about the show, and why you might want to attend next year.
The annual h+h americas in Rosemont, IL is the premier event for the North American Handicraft Industry and the sister event of h+h cologne (Germany), the world’s largest trade fair for the crafts sector. Here are some stats from their site: The 2023 event featured 263 exhibitors from 22 countries and attracted 2,560+ attendees from all 50 states and 41 countries.
I went out with Helen Hulskamp on my team, and we taught two classes (Take Your Shopify Site to the Next Level, and Email Marketing: Sending Targeted Messages Using Segments and Flows), hosted an overflowing ecommerce meetup, walked the show, and scheduled one-on-one meetings. We are looking forward to teaching again next year. Aeolidia has been working with the craft industry since our earliest, pre-Etsy days, and it was great to see some of our favorite shops there, including many we’d created branding and websites for.
One thing that made h+h americas different from other trade shows I have been to was the education component. In many cases, trade shows either don’t include education, or it seems like an afterthought, with speakers wedged at the end of aisles, or attendees unaware that classes were offered. At h+h, they had great topics and speakers, set aside large rooms with professional audio and visual equipment, and class turnout was high.
They also made it easy to network one-on-one, using their app to schedule meetings, and setting aside networking areas to chat. There were quiet areas where you could have professional meetings, and tables to pull out catalogs, samples, notepads, and laptops.
The exhibitors were well-curated, with a good mix of established and newer brands. The only thing I’d love to see improve next year is the variety of businesses types. There was definitely a strong presence from yarn businesses, with fabric being the next biggest category. However, h+h americas has opened up to all types of craft-related businesses, from arts and crafts to haberdashery to needlework. Here is their list of exhibitor categories for next year, including cake design, sequins, watercolor, books, and tapestry, among many many more. If you fit into any of these categories, I’d strongly advise you to exhibit. I talked to quite a few retailers with gift shops and craft shops who were hoping to see a big variety of products.
We checked in with our craft network, and I’d love to share what some h+h attendees wanted you to know about the show.
Hear what our shop owner community has to say
I’m very glad I attended H&H this past June. I made some great connections with suppliers and colleagues. I felt it wasn’t quite right for me as a vendor, at least not in the short term – my (limited) marketing dollars will be better spent at quilt-specific shows in terms of building my wholesale business.Denyse Schmidt, Denyse Schmidt Quilts
We had fairly low expectations given that it was only the 2nd time the show took place in the States. But what peaked our interest was having fiber AND fabric as well as notions all under one convention center roof! While the fabric/quilting/garment-sewing presence was light, we hope that it will grow in the future. We also appreciated the h+h app interface which allowed us to plan out our buying.
We always attend trade shows with a plan – looking for specific products (for example: sustainability commitments and certification which we found some great new yarns for the shop from Lion Brand and BC Garn) and meeting with established vendors who we may not have been able to order from in-person since 2019. We made some new connections and saw previews of product launches that we had ordered based on photos (like Kelbourne Woolens collaboration with Misha and Puff)! Plus we met some other independent shop owners and heard their thoughts on e-commerce, supporting smaller vendors, and buying in an uncertain economy.
Obviously we loved the e-commerce round table with Aeolidia where we met new friends and reconnected with folks we hadn’t seen since Quilt Market 2019.Virginia Johnson, Gather Here
I loved the show!
I enjoyed the contemporary vision reflected at the show. Topics, formats and product mix seemed to more accurately represent the crafty business landscape. Daily keynotes offered a broader view of the creative space. I appreciated the opportunity to meet a wider array of professional service providers.
Weaving education, fun networking events and exhibitors on the show floor offered a meaningful experience as an attendee.
For my current vendors that exhibited: I did not place orders at the show as my sales reps encouraged me to place orders prior to the event. My lack of order placement with current vendors at the show is simply an unfortunate side effect of the timing of the show in the quilting industry ordering cycle.
I plan to attend the show in 2024.Julie Karasek, Patched Works
We loved being at h+h. Not only did we meet new customers and receive lots of orders, but we adored meeting face-to-face with people in our community. We found a good number of customers in surprise areas as well, like sewing and quilting stores, when we thought our focus would be mainly knitting stores. This discovery was a huge bonus for the expansion of our customer base. We’ll definitely be back!Anne Weil, Flax & Twine
As a new store owner, H&H was a very timely and influential experience. The workshops were educational and actionable. I even identified a business coach to work with through those classes. So many great ideas were shared, and the general atmosphere was very positive and supportive. The keynote speakers were really inspiring. On the floor, there was every vendor I had hoped to encounter and a few I hadn’t heard about previously, so I was able to get a good sense of their offerings and start to build those relationships. The follow-up after the event has been a nice bonus.
Meeting other store owners was something I had hoped would be possible and there were meet-up sessions that provided that opportunity.
I really couldn’t have asked for a more positive experience for my first industry conference and I look forward to attending again next year, this time with a lot more experience under my belt!Kait Hilliard, Coachella Valley Yarn
I partnered with h+h Americas to organize the Indie Untangled Newcomer Pavilion at the show, because I work with so many small business owners who want to get started wholesaling, or expand their wholesale, but have never done a large trade show before, or don’t necessarily have the resources to build out or staff a regular booth. It’s also difficult to stand out at a massive event at which many vendors are in the same product category. At the same time, shop owners are looking to find what’s new and exciting.
The show went really well for the pavilion vendors, and it helped to have the extra support and the space to be highlighted under the Indie Untangled banner.
The pavilion is ideal for small one- or two-person businesses in all craft categories that are looking to get or expand into wholesale.
Personally, it was also a great networking opportunity and allowed me to talk shop with people in my industry away from the hectic schedule of a consumer show, which is where I usually see peopleLisa Chamoff, Indie Untangled
Thinking about exhibiting? I’d be delighted to see you there, and it seems like a great event to invest in. Learn more about being an exhibitor here:
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