Big-Time Biz Lady: Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp

Ever wondered what it takes to rule a tradeshow, with your business as the belle of the wholesale ball? You are not alone and Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp (and also a handmade business owner!) would love to show you the ropes. As the speaker at our upcoming Next Level Workshop, we're excited she'll be dropping some knowledge on us! So we thought we'd share with you a little bit about what she's up to.

We are grateful to Katie for telling us about her business and we loved the peek into how she balances her schedule!

Q: How would you describe what Tradeshow Bootcamp is all about?

A: Tradeshow Bootcamp is a community for creative entrepreneurs. We believe that the more we share with and support one another, the stronger our individual businesses and our community will become. We offer educational workshops (online and in-person) that focus on selling wholesale, exhibiting at tradeshows and a number of general business topics aimed at newer and seasoned companies. Tradeshow Bootcamp has more than 250 alumni, who are actively engaged and involved in our community--learning from others and paying it forward by sharing their experiences. It is a pretty special group, and I'm incredibly proud of what we've built together.

Q: Where did you get the idea?

A: In 2009, after exhibiting at the National Stationery Show for the first time, I did a blog post with a friend of mine regarding my experiences at NSS -- things I learned and things I wish I had known ahead of time. That blog post sparked a number of emails from fellow stationers who were curious about the exhibiting process and many of them had the same questions. So, I gathered some of my stationery friends with different expertise, and we held the first Tradeshow Bootcamp workshops in the spring of 2011.

Q: You are busy with both your stationery business Kelp Designs, helping people with their own stationery business, as well as having kids… what's a typical day look like for you?

A: No two days look the same, that is for sure :) I usually sit down on Sunday nights and map out the schedule for the week--for both family and business obligations. Mondays tend to be Kelp Designs days--designing, processing retail orders, checking in with my wholesale accounts, prepping wholesale orders that are shipping that week, etc. Tuesdays are dedicated to TSBC webinar prep meetings and are when I typically hold my 1-1 coaching sessions (lots of time on the phone!). I try to leave Wednesdays as open as possible for things that don't get done Mon & Tues. Thursdays are split, Kelp in the morning, TSBC in webinars in the afternoon. And, Fridays I try to only work half-days so I can get some extra play time in with my kids. Of course, there are certain times of the year that one business is busier than others, so flexibility is key.

Q: Who would benefit taking your Paper Camp Tradeshow Bootcamp? Also, how often are the Paper Camps offered?

A: Our Paper Camp workshop (2 day conference) is aimed at stationery and gift companies who are interested in learning more about selling wholesale and considering tradeshows as their launching point. We've had brand new companies join us as well as industry vets -- and all have walked away with new information to help their businesses. We cover a lot of material offering offering concrete examples, tips and vendor recommendations about product development, marketing, booth design & preparation, working with sales reps, the media & retailers.... the list goes on and on. Paper Camp is held each spring in Los Angeles, however, this October 11-12 we'll be in the Washington DC area test driving an east coast program.

Q: What differences are there between the webinars you offer vs. the Paper Camp?

A: Paper Camp is our most intensive program -- 16 hours of content + visuals over 2 days, plus in-person networking opportunities and a 100+ page handbook with handouts, worksheets and vendor recommendations. Our Tradeshow Bootcamp webinars offer 1 hour of focused content, flexibility to attend remotely and a video playback so that attendees can revisit the materials as needed. All of our students are invited to join a private online forum where our speakers and alumni continue the conversation year-round.

Q: Does the Paper Camp offer help for people outside of the Stationery Industry?

A: Yes! We've had several gift companies come through our workshops. While certain topics are specific to the stationery industry, the large majority are applicable to all small businesses - marketing, sales tools (catalogs / order forms), sales rep 101, booth design, working with media, retailer roundtable.

Q: What advice do you have for makers who run their own business?

Two things: 1. Stay true to who you are when making business decisions. What works for other people, may not work for you -- so while its good to keep an a eye with what others are working on, don't let it dictate your business decisions. 2. Set goals and map out a plan. We have a master calendar for both Kelp and TSBC that runs 6 months out and includes even little stuff like promos + e-blasts. The more organized you are, the more strategic you can be with your business.

Q: Where can people find your stuff and learn more about what you do?

Tradeshow Bootcamp: + @tradeshowcamp everywhere

Kelp Designs: + @kelpdesigns everywhere