There are not enough adjectives in the thesaurus in my mind to adequately describe the emotion and energy I felt at the Expo. Positively awe-inspiring.
My first time in Vegas, too. For someone who's never so much as purchased a lottery ticket, WHOA. Carl and Melody and I arrived Friday afternoon, picked up our rental car, and drove down the Strip to our hotel. The Strip? Again...whoa. So much decadence! My awe was further fed as we left the hotel after dark to pick Chuck, Ali, and Talia up from the airport. Lights, activity, action, ENERGY anyone?
To add to the extraordinary surroundings, this was only the second time I've had the opportunity to wrap my arms around Ali in the warmest of embraces. Can you imagine? Starting a business with someone, legally committing yourself to a working relationship with someone you've never actually laid eyes on? Ali and I have spent UNTOLD hours on the phone with each other, emailing each other...getting to spend an entire WEEK with her. To actually be in each other's presence...man, surreal. It was warm and comfortable, as if we'd known each other for YEARS (which, of course, we have...just not in person). Ali's family (the ones we had the pleasure of sharing the week with), too, is particularly remarkable. Talia is a charismatic little lady, to say the least, and Chuck has one of the most loving and caring hearts I've ever had the pleasure of being enveloped by.
You can see a photo montage of our week on Ali's blog here:
Then, of course, there was the Expo. Our launch. The single event we've been working toward for the past year. WOW! It was more than I'd ever imagined! Success!
We left for Vegas, feeling confident in our diaper, hoping that others would love it, as well. I had no idea how it would be received...LolliDoo is so different from the other cloth diaper options available. Would the differences work in our favor?
The answer to that lingering doubt was a resounding YES! I can't tell you the number of times someone told me how positively REFRESHING they found our product...something novel and fresh! They LOVED it!
They loved US, too...which...man. What a relief! I'd spent much energy, prior to the show, putting of MYSELF into LolliDoo and our business. Of course, I am confident in who I am and what we're doing, but there was a nagging tug at the recesses of my psyche... That tug? LONG gone! The positive energy flowing toward us during the Expo will feed my spirit for YEARS to come! I've got goosebumps as I write this. :)
We didn't win the JPMA 2008 Innovative Product Award, but I had opportunity to speak with one of the judges afterward, a chance to bend his ear and have mine bent, as well. It was very much a learning experience...JPMA needs to WATCH OUT for what we have in store for them for next year's competition. I plan to blow them AWAY!
We participated in some diaper industry meetings, as well. The first meeting was for manufacturers, and we gleaned much in the way of product claims and will, as a result, be sending our product off for testing/certification. It was a much-needed wake-up call, we totally got schooled, but we walked away from it feeling confident about the claims we WILL be able to make when all is said and done.
The second meeting was for diaper retailers, a group we plan to also join. Prior to the show, we had been approached to deliver an already written presentation on press releases at the retailer's meeting. We'd originally planned for Ali to give the presentation, but at the last minute, it was decided that I would present. I pulled it off with only about 10 minutes prep time...I thought that was pretty cool. :) I totally get off on public speaking and it was the first time I'd had the opportunity since college! It also gave us an opportunity to put our faces in front of the retailers, which proved to be invaluable as they recognized us when they came to visit our booth.
Speaking of our booth, it was positively VIBRANT! (You can see it on the link above to Ali's blog.)
We had media folks visit us, we've been asked to write editorial content for a few of them (AWESOME!); we had other manufacturers come see us (SURREAL!); and potential customers...what an AMAZING group! Each one of them with their own story to tell, their own passion and perspective for doing what they do. Meeting everyone was one of the most fun experiences of my adult life!
I can honestly say, too, that the enjoyment I felt in seeing each set of eyes light up when I flipped that laundry loop around is one of my fondest memories of the show. By the end of that first day, my "schpeil" was perfected: "Recycled, recyclable, all domestic, laundry loop, yadda yadda..." And I loved every minute of it!
Ah...I could go on and on! So much happened! But Daddy Morgan's about done at the barbeque... :) Suffice it to say, the show was a success! We're home now with ever more work to do...but now we know. We know folks are excited about what we're doing, they're excited about the way we're doing things...and they are WAITING IMPATIENTLY to get their hands on our goods...and I can't wait to put them there! :)