5 Lessons I Learned From High Point Market

When I went to High Point Market for the first time, Spring 2018, I was invited to speak on an e-design panel hosted by Surya & presented by The Design Network. It was an honor and an amazing experience, but it was also a 10 hour experience — I landed Sunday, was at market Monday, and flew out Tuesday.

So while in theory I attended market in the Spring, I never actually experienced market.

Going for the second time, I got a chance to really immerse myself in the High Point experience — attending seminars, hosting events, and connecting with friends & colleagues. 

Having been able to spend three days at market this go round, here’s a what I learned from the lens of an e-designer and content creator.

 
The E-Design Experience Lessons From HPKMT
 

There’s something for everyone — no matter your stage of business.

A sentiment I’ve heard share across lots of designers — new to the industry and/on online facing — is that High Point Market isn’t for them. 

I’ll admit, prior to actually going for myself, I thought the same — “e-designers don’t go to market” and “maybe when I’ve been in business longer I’ll need it” — but after actually experiencing it for myself I can totes say there’s something for every designer, every stage of business, every business model. 

So many of the messages we get as it relates to High Point lends itself to the more traditional and/or seasoned designer, but with the assortment of talks, events, and tours, there’s a little bit of something for every type of industry professional. 


Plan with discernment & clear objectives.

Piggy backing off the first lesson, you’ll only know what’s there for you if you go in with a plan — what do you hope to get out of your market experience? 

Designers (and other design adjacent professionals) go their for a myriad of reasons — from buying product to earning CEU — so have a few clear objectives will help you quiet the noise of everything else, so you can focus on what aligns with those objectives. 

Personally, had I not known what I wanted market to do for my business, I would’ve been immediately swept away with overwhelm; but because I planned, I didn’t have to worry about FOMO or anything distracting me. 


Be agile because things may not always go as planned.

So this may seem a tad bit counterintuitive to the second lesson, but it’s reality — things won’t always go as planned so while you want to have an itinerary in place, you’ll also want to be able to adapt. 

What can go wrong?

Flight delays.

Power outages.

Missed shuttles.

Double booking.

Oversleeping.

Shall I continue? 

We had an entire itinerary for each of the 3 days there, yet when a rough first night resulted in an even rougher morning, I knew we were going to lose half a day — and that was okay. By being adaptable as the days progressed, with the key objectives in mind, the entire experience was still a success! 


People online are closer than they appear.

If you follow a lot of designers and/or are part of designer groups, and you’ve been virtual friends (or even acquaintances) you forget that technically, these are all strangers. 

The way we engage in real life has changed drastically thanks to the internet. Gone are the days of awkward social encounters because in nearly almost setting, you’re going to bump into one of your virtual besties, which helps you skip right past the chit chat & straight to “Where do you want to grab dinner tonight?

It was amazing to recognize people & be recognized, almost like going to a high school reunion.

This takes networking from a cold encounter to a warm, friendly exchange. 


Explain your business because what’s duh to you isn’t duh to everyone else.

Imagine being able to answer all questions clearly & concisely as it relates to you & your business, without the noise (or fluff) of the internet getting in the way.

As you imagine, with e-design being foreign to some, confusing to most, meeting with vendors & other industry personnel, and saying, “I work with clients exclusively online”, made for an interesting conversation starter.

But it wasn’t met with any of the responses I expected; instead I was able to give them clarity & insight into this new landscape within the industry. It peaked their interest, they were excited to learn more, and I was able to expand my network.

#winning!


Now I don’t want you to walk away from this thinking that you have to go to every market, all the markets, but if you were ever someone who thought you had no place at market — specifically High Point Market — I want you to know that you’re wrong. If you’ve been wanting to go, I am giving you permission to go, whether you’re a “baby designer” as my friend LuAnn Nigara would say, or a more season designer.

No matter the stage of your business, there’s definitely value in going to High Point, but if that’s not the season you’re in, that’s okay too!

The E-Design Experience