Behind the Scenes @ Indie Wed 2016!

I had the best time exhibiting at Indie Wed last weekend! Being included in such a talented round up of vendors was such an honor, and the creative energy in the Ravenswood Event Center was incredible! Here's a little behind-the-scenes peek into what went in to my Indie Wed preparations. 

Just before the doors opened! I was SO in love with my booth that I was sad to take it down at the end of the day!

Just before the doors opened! I was SO in love with my booth that I was sad to take it down at the end of the day!

Last fall I started thinking about exhibiting at a bridal show. I had never participated in one before, but Indie Wed seemed like it would be a good fit for my business and has a very creative and relaxing vibe.  I applied last fall, and was SO excited the day I received the acceptance email. 

Dreaming up the booth was one of the most fun parts! I am incredibly lucky that Mike is not only quite handy and creative, but also the #1 president of the Heirloom Event Co. Fan Club. My own skills with power tools are pretty legit, so this felt like a fun project that we could do together. Cut to the booth taking up our entire dining room and sawdust covering every inch of our kitchen and the last few days were a bit of a push to bring it all to life, but overall it was really fun. 

The original plan for the backdrop was a chevron-patterned wall, made out of palette wood. I wanted it to looks like a well-worn floor. With all the best intentions, our plan grew and grew, and it became apparent that the lowly little stack of palette wood I had was not going to cut it.  

In my internet-ing I came across this tutorial for building a backwall that fit into a car. Mike took a loose idea based on this design and started sketching out out concept. 

Off to Home Depot we went! On what felt like the rainiest night in all of January, we stocked up on wood, some industrial can lights (which ultimately got nixed for clean line aesthetics) and some other odds and ends.  

I was obviously a great help at Home Depot and spent most of the time setting up styled photos of our plans...

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This guy went through every piece of wood in the entire bin picking out ONLY the best for Heirloom!! I honestly thought he was going to run out of viable options and we'd be headed to another Home Depot, but luckily we found just enough. 

Here's where owning a business gets REALLY glamorous! I went to work painting the wood we bought in painstakingly small groups based on what would fit in our city apartment dining room.  Which is by no means tiny, as city apartments go, but is also not exactly palatial in size either.  

Just to give ya'll a real, real peak into life - that's our Christmas tree box in the corner there, because I haven't had time to take it back out to the storage unit yet. And a pile of laundry to be ironed waiting patiently under the drop-cloths everywhere.  My favorite part was went I had to crawl under the painted wood to get in and out of our bathroom to get ready.  

Midway through the building process we took a quick road trip to Nebraska, where Mike's family lives, for a belated Christmas celebration that we had been snowed out of during actual Christmas. Roxy is the best and worst road trip companion.  Packing the car is a bit like preparing for war. That little creature can get herself inside of any box, bag or compartment in a matter of seconds. 

One of the trickiest parts of planning the booth was how to make a nice looking sign, without spending a fortune.  I had gotten some quotes from various Etsy vendors and one professional sign shop and they were all in the $300 range.  Mike really thought we could make a great looking sign on our own, and his family was gracious enough to devote nearly a whole day of our "Christmas" break to pitching in! The grand total for our sign cost came to around $6!  

Here's how we did it:
- I took an electronic file of my logo to the nearest Office Max and asked them to print it in as large scale as they could on engineering drafting paper. 15 minutes and $2.10 later, I had a print out that was about 40 inches by 10 inches. 
- We took that print out home and carefully cut out the logo
- Next we tapped the logo cut out down on a scrap piece of wood that Mike's dad graciously donated to the cause. 
- We traced around the logo file with pencil until we had transferred everything onto the wood. 

It tool a little bit of work to trace around the tape we used to secure everything down flat. We went back around the the logo, lifting up each piece of tape as we went and connecting the lines by hand, until we had the full logo traced out. 

Next Mike and his Dad cut out our traced logo using a bandsaw (Mike) and a jigsaw (his dad). I will never take for granted the amount of support that both of our families have given to Heirloom from the very start.  Mike's dad is a small business owner as well and has been a big source of guidance and inspiration as I've navigated my first year in business.  

Meanwhile, his mom and I were inside comparing paint samples to pick the very perfect shade of peachy-coral to match the Heirloom branding. 

After some painstaiking saw work  - we had our almost finished product! In the end I decided that a glossy black coat of paint would make this stand out most. So I picked up some Rust-Oleum glossy black lacquer for about $4.   

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Back in Chicago! One more trip to the lumber store and some late nights of painting. My mom came to town in preparation for the show, and it was so great to have her here amidst the last minute details and push to finish off the booth.  She was the best booth helper I could have asked for.  If you want to take a secret weapon with you when trying to showcase your business, take your mom!

Since I had never done this before, I decided I would feel most prepared if we really took the whole booth for a dry run in the dining room.  I taped out the exact measurements of my booth space on the floor (see the blue tape!) and started arranging my furniture to see how it would all fit.  My concept was "step into my office."  As s planner I think it can be hard to showcase your work without being confused for other vendors. It's hard to put the work we do into a visual concept, so I thought that by showcasing a beautiful office setting with some of the actual pieces I use when I plan, it would be a good representation of by brand.  that's my actual desk down there! I cleared it out and used it in the booth!

This lamp was ultimately too big, and I was afraid we'd just knock in to it all day, so I went with a more streamlined option that I picked up at Target last minute. 

This lamp was ultimately too big, and I was afraid we'd just knock in to it all day, so I went with a more streamlined option that I picked up at Target last minute. 

Indie Wed weekend was finally here! It was SO increadibly helpful that we were able to set our booth materials up the day before the show. It took a lot of the pressure off and made sure we were all fresh and rested for the day of the actual show. Having Mike and my mom with me the whole weekend was so helpful. They worked SO hard carrying everything in and out during set up. 

Securing the crown jewel of the booth for a safe overnight stay after we set everything up. 

Securing the crown jewel of the booth for a safe overnight stay after we set everything up. 

I felt really good about the booth when we left after set up.  We went home to some pizza and wine and to finish up some last minute details! My mom cut and tied all 100 ribbons on my booth giveaways over wine and Hugh Grant movies. 

I felt really good about the booth when we left after set up.  We went home to some pizza and wine and to finish up some last minute details! My mom cut and tied all 100 ribbons on my booth giveaways over wine and Hugh Grant movies. 

Yay!! It was finally done! And it turned out just as beautiful as I had imagined.  So much of my design inspiration comes from interior design and beautiful interiors, that it really felt like home standing in my booth. I felt very proud of the booth we'd created and it gave me a huge boost of confidence to talk about Heirloom and the work I do to bring meaningful wedding days to life. 

I loved the giveaways I had this year! Emily Asher from Emily Rose Ink designed these beautiful Wedding To-Do notepads with her gorgeous hand-lettering at the tops to keep track of your current tasks! 

Once the rush started, it was a non-stop day of meeting newly engage couples, brides-to-be with their bff's and other wedding vendors.  I loved the opportunity to meet with so many people and hear about how their wedding plans were coming together.  At the end of the day I felt incredibly exhausted and equally exhilarated for the rest of 2016 and the upcoming wedding season.  

On Sunday, we had brunch and spent a few hours sipping tea and reading magazines, which will always and forever be my happy place.  Indie Wed 2016 was a great success for me and I am so thankful to all of my friends and family who helped me along the way.