ICON Honors Call For Entries Now Open on New Website

09289_AM ICON Honors Logo_Rd6The ICON Honors national call for entries is now open with submission invited in three categories:

  • Innovation (for technology applications to achieve market share, product design, packaging design and sustainability and branding) 
  • Contribution (for independent retail community trailblazer impact/influence, cause-related product impact/influence and industry-building impact/influence and community betterment/improvement achievements)
  • Achievement (for top newcomer recognition, individual professional accomplishment, collective business accomplishment and life accomplishment)

Competition for the Honors will be by individual submission in the Innovation and Contribution categories, and by independent nomination in the Achievement category—with the potential for up to 27 awards conferred.

Members of the home and gift industry are eligible as:

  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Sales Agencies
  • Service Providers /Affiliates

For complete details on the awards and instructions on how to submit, visit the new ICON Honors website: www.americasmarticonhonors.com.

All entries must be sent in via mail.

Submissions will be accepted now through Friday, May 14, 2010.

 The winners will be notified in advance and officially announced and honored at the ICON Honors celebration on Saturday, July 17, 2010, in conjunction with the July Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings and Atlanta International Area Rug Markets.

Guest AMU Blogger Darrah Brustein Shares On Saving Money, Driving Business

dbrusteinIt’s the dream of many young girls to one day be in the fashion industry! After college, I was lucky enough to find myself as a rep for a high-end denim line and seemingly living my dream of the glamorous life of fashion! As many of you know, the glitz n’glam can be fun, but there is a lot more to the business. After a couple years as a rep, I was ready for a new challenge and was fortunate to be introduced to the world of merchant services. I had a soft spot for the needs of a retail business owner who certainly could use some help cutting costs where they are unnecessary. When I learned how unscrupulous people in the credit card processing world can be, I jumped on the opportunity to parlay my newfound knowledge to the boutique owners I knew and cared about.

If you’ve ever wondered ‘why am I paying so much every month to a credit card processor?’, ‘what’s the difference in what it costs me to transact a debit card, credit card, or a key entered order?’, or ‘would my business benefit from an influx of cash with an advance on my credit card deposits?’, then come meet me as I share what I’ve learned from working with hundreds of retailers and e-commerce stores about merchant services.  I’ll be offering guidance on how to get the best rates on your processing, as well as how to drive more revenue to your business with merchant services. It’s time to take the confusion out of this business and shed some light on the matter!  

Join Darrah on Friday, April 9 at 11 a.m. to find out how to Save Money and Drive Repeat Business during her AmericasMart University (AMU) presentation. More details here.

AmericasMart Launches Birding & Backyard Nature Category

birdfeederIn ongoing efforts to broaden the already dynamic product offering throughout its four-building campus, AmericasMart is launching the Birding & Backyard Nature category as a vital component of the Market Temporaries. A natural extension of the established temporary and permanent garden product collections, Birding & Backyard Nature will make its debut at the January 12-18, 2011 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.

Find out more details here.

SDH Enterprises Selected as Beautiful Bedding Winner at March Market

BBmarch1In conjunction with Atlanta International Fine Linen & Home Textiles Market, which took place March 20-22, AmericasMart hosted the second annual Beautiful Bedding competition—featuring the most luxurious linens for 2010.

Exhibitors were invited to display their finest during Market for in the lobby level corridor of Building 1 on Floor 1. The bedding vignettes spotlighted the best of the best in linens and upcoming trends.BBmarch

The entries were judged by an independent industry expert, and the winning bed came from SDH Enterprises, showcasing its Lidic Stone design. SDH has a permanent showroom at AmericasMart in Building 1, Floor 9, 9-A-11.

Creating a Legendary Tablescape

The folks at A Legendary Event know how to create atmospheres to classemenhance any occasion – they’re experts. On Sunday of the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market, Jeanna Graham and Fleming Patterson wowed buyers with ways to use a variety of containers and floral supplies to create spectacular tablescapes.

From incorporating fresh fruit to Christmas ornaments to wide mesh ribbon to flowering branches, the duo demonstrated  multiple ways to use a variety of materials. Using one elementtallgreenemin a variety of ways in a display helps customers understand versatility which can drive a purchase since an item can be used more than one way. As example, they showed to take pine cone Christmas ornaments and use them as varied parts of multiple centerpieces. Wide wire mesh ribbon can be used as a table runner, a container wrap or an overlay to help guide and support fresh stems.

Creating height, depth and dimension ensures tablescapes are interesting tulipsemfrom all angles, not just the front. Use fabric, ribbon, grasses, candles, sticks and containers as layers to build vertical levels. Remember to work both up and out; a good arrangement moves in all directions. Incorporating different pieces also adds texture, which in turn creates another layer of interest.

Wreaths are multi-purpose – use them flat as a form to enclose candles and containers or cut them into semi-circles and use them to build upward curves. Flowering branches – real and quality artificial  – also work well to add dimension.

Adding holly, cut fruit, berries or any of a variety of other natural elements to glass containers not only helps hold stems in place, it adds visual interest to the container. Play around with a variety of materials. Some of the most citrusemunexpected things can end up being the extra touch that makes a table memorable. Try to think beyond traditional elements; or turn something a different way to give it another look.

There are limitless possibilities when it comes to holiday tables. Try to create displays that showcase myriad ways to use an item. Also mix different product lines to show how they can complement each other. The more you can inspire your customers; the more excited they’ll be to create their own amazing tablescapes at home.

For more on Graham and Patterson, visit www.legendaryevents.com. To find the products they used to demonstrate their ideas, visit the Holiday & Floral, Home Decor center at AmericasMart Atlanta – Building 1, Floors 16-10.

Panel Discussion: Comfort, Simplicity and Personal Style in Home Decor

Saturday of The Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market was all about learning. A lively panel discussion featuring Phoebe Howard, decorator and owner of Ms. Howard and Max & Compay; Jennifer Boles, founder and product of panelpopular blog ThePeakofChic.com; and Stan Dixon, award-winning architect and owner of D. Stanley Dixon Architects; and moderated by Clinton Smith, editorial director of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine focused on comfort, simplicy and personal style.

Topics ranged from how to create a beautiful bed that’s also comfortable using layering, quality sheets and a plethora of pillows to how different people react to color in their spaces. When it comes to color, it’s completely personal; some people are “neutrals” while others demand bright hues. It’s rare to find a client who reacts positively to both sides of the spectrum. In design, it usually makes most sense to more lasting projects to use color in transient pieces such as pillows, upholstery, linens or even rugs than in fixtures such as countertops.

Multifunctional rooms are imperative. There are no wasted rooms anymore; people want liveable spaces that make the most of an often smaller footprint. Creating outdoor living areas that as livable as those inside is complementary design focus. Adding curtains to create a sense of enclosure, deep seating and beautiful lighting for functionality and art for aesthetics makes the outoors interchangeable with indoor spaces.

When it comes to simplicity, clean doesn’t have to be stark. It’s a matter of editing to ensure there aren’t too many competing elements. Use fewer layers of materials. For example instead of a granite countertop and tile backsplash, use marble or synthetic surface for both. Lighter woods such as bleached pine walnut and oak create interest without density, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

In all design, personal style should be paramount. In some cases, people opt for a do-it-yourself option for cosmetic, quick fixes – even more popular as people opt to stay in their homes and renovate instead of selling and moving. Bathrooms and powder rooms are two areas where it’s popular to use paint and fabric to quickly and inexpensively transform a space.

As design continually cycles, “trends” are more fluid than ever. Looks from the 1980s are showing up as masculine elements with an edgier feel. But feminine shows up too in smaller scales and mixing furniture styles. With so much information readily available, it’s more important than ever to create rooms that work for individuals instead of trying to duplicate the “latest” style. Pick and choose elements that fit the client and the project is more likely to last.

10 Things You Can Do Today to Build a Social Media Presence

Brent Beatty, Search and Social Media Marketing Strategist for What’s Up Interactive, provided an overview on Saturday of best practices to effectively grow your business through interactive channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. Through an interactive discussion, he offered examples of how businesses use Social Media and tangible steps you can take to begin engaging with prospects, partners and peers to build relationships and drive sales.

First, social media is a means to connect with and listen to your audience. Listening and analyzing perceptions enables you to create a tailored program instead of one based on preconceived perceptions of your customers. Once you’ve established a presence, use available tools to monitor the diaglogue and create a snapshot of your audience to ensure you’re sending the right messages to the right people. Doing so will help you create a well-thought out integrated program to reach consumers and deliver what they want and expect.

10 Immediate Steps

1. Create a professional online presence. Track! Google Analytics

2. Assess your needs and purpose. Define Success.

3. Narrow target audience.

4. Find professional blogs, personal interest blogs; follow closely.

5. Subscribe to relevant news feeds (Google Alerts, Google Reader, RSS).

6. Creat a Facebook Profile; set up a fan page, group or cause. Comment and share.

7. Join Twitter; create a follow and tweet strategy. Re-tweet, comment and make friends.

8. Subscribe to podcasts; comment and share.

9. Create LinkedIn profile and join relevant groups.

10. Start a blog; update it often and integrate all other social elements.

For more information about What’s Up, go to http://bit.ly/96dqjc . Remember to stay in touch with AmericasMart Atlanta during and between Markets by becoming a fan at Facebook.com/AmericasMartATL, following on Twitter at Twitter.com/AmericasMartATL and reading out blog at blog.americasmart.com