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Find the fun; Find the inspiration

Upon hearing what you do for a living, has anyone ever said to you, “Oh, that sounds like fun”? Yeah, me too, and it’s actually a little pet peeve of mine. Not because I don’t find the children’s wear industry fun but it’s also a lot of other things like interesting, challenging, unique and important. That said, I totally get why people would characterize the market as fun—after all, everything is so stinkin’ cute. I realize we could be designing and marketing metal washers, a necessary item for sure, but fun? Not so much.

While I don’t like when people trivialize the market, I’ve started to wonder if—bogged down as we often are in the realities of costing, sell-throughs, taxes, duties and all the rest—we always appreciate the fact that we’re in a creative field that’s more lighthearted than, say, the meanies in the adult category. While our business is no less serious than others, it’s true that we probably have more opportunities for levity than we take advantage of.

Trade shows are a great example. I know there’s a lot riding on each show, like pressures to justify the investment, entice new buyers and increase sales over last season. And it can all start to feel a bit routine—same place, same people, same aisles… But as they say, only boring people are bored. So, with this in mind, I started to think of ways to mix it up at the October ENK Children’s Club show. My usual routine calls for spotting trends, talking dollars and discussing the market, which I still needed to do, but surely there’s some way to take some of the sameness out of our quarterly gatherings and enjoy the show more.

This is why I decided to do a series of selfies with friends while in the aisles. (See them here.) I liked the fact that it had the opportunity to be fun (there’s that word again) and a little disarming. It was really interesting to see people’s reactions when I asked them to pose with me. In most cases, there was a spark of excitement. I don’t think it was necessarily me that ignited that response but rather the prospect of doing something new and unexpected. Everyone’s used to me asking about their inspirations and best sellers, and I did that too, but this was a little twist. It made me think maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere. What other ways can we loosen and lighten up? And what benefits, beyond a smile, might await?

For me, those impromptu photo ops ended up being business and pleasure. As I looked through the pictures of my industry friends’ smiling faces, I realized that from a business perspective, it wasn’t bad for me to be seen on the scene with these seasoned vets. Why not let people know I’m in the know? So by injecting a little levity and going for the unexpected, I had fun in the moment and garnered potential benefits for the long run. I’ll take a win-win any day.

What areas of your biz could benefit from a tiny tweak and a little levity?

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