Set Your Designs On High Point

Build a great Market experience around your business objectives, by Albie Buabeng, founder, Albie Knows and The Design Influence

I’ve heard lots of designers say that major trade events like High Point Market aren’t for them. And before my first trip to High Point, I would have agreed that it just wasn’t for e-designers like me or designers who are just starting out. After actually being here, though, I can totally say I was wrong. There is something for every designer, no matter your business model or stage.

I’m still a relative newcomer. My first visit was in Spring 2018, when I was invited to be part of a panel discussion about the business of e-design. With nearly 200 designers at that panel, it was evident that if there wasn’t a place for e-designers like me at Market, there should be.

While I was only in town for 10 hours (literally) on my first visit, I knew I wanted to come back. So, I returned in the fall, and really immersed myself in this unique experience – attending seminars, touring showrooms, hosting events, and connecting with friends and colleagues – all from the lens of an e-designer and content creator.

“The first thing you need to know is that you have to go in with a plan.”

Before you leave home, know what you want to get out of the experience. Because factoring how quickly flights, hotels, and rentals add up, if you’re not 100% clear on how this’ll benefit you, you’ll be wasting time and money, if you’re going just for going’s sake.

Your needs will vary, depending on you and your business. You’ll have opportunities to buy product, catch up on your CEUs, find new vendors, and expand your network, so having a few clear objectives will definitely help you quiet the noise of the nice- to- haves and keep you focused on the must-haves.

My business, Albie Knows, is built on two platforms, online designer and content creator. Browsing through the events listed on the High Point Market site, it was refreshing to see options that explored every aspect of the current industry landscape – tech savvy, social media inspired, systems driven, influencer friendly – and they were all very future facing.

“The showrooms are about more than just products – they’re where you meet the people behind the products.”

To propel the e-commerce leg of my business, I made a point of scheduling tours and appointments with vendors and showrooms that were of interest to me. I wanted to put names and faces to the brand, not only for e-commerce but for potential brand collaborations. I also wanted them to put a face to my name, because while I may operate exclusively online, I know there is massive value in those in-person connections.

As a content creator, I was able to meet brand reps and company owners, to truly understand their brand values. As a designer, I was able to see, touch, and explore future product assortments, get insight into the design details, and plan ahead for product purchases. I didn’t let the fact that I may not have been able to get to every showroom bother me. Because I went in with a plan, I was able to cross some of my primary destinations off the list, while noting which ones to reach out to after Market.

“Make this a learning excursion – and a networking event.”

No matter the strides I’ve made, I am still in the early stages of business. I wanted to learn more about things you don’t necessarily get in a textbook, so I strategically chose which panels and seminars would best fit those lessons, with a focus on what would immediately serve me for the season of business I’m in.

Lastly, as the founder of The Design Influence community and podcast, and The E-Design Experience online conference, I knew I wanted to network with my potential audience. How can I serve designers if I don’t meet designers? How can I work with brands if I don’t meet brands? To build the name of The Design Influence (then The E-Design Experience) I made a point of hosting and attending relevant events.

These events not only benefited the attendees – whether they were looking for mentorship or simply in need of new resources – but they benefited me and gave me exclusive insights into the needs of the design community.

“With three very clear objectives, I was able to walk in and out of High Point with intention, while still leaving room for the unexpected.”

Had I not known what I wanted Market to do for my business, I would’ve been immediately overwhelmed or worse yet, mired in FOMO. Did I have to sometimes pass up on events that I knew would serve me? Absolutely! Time is money, and more importantly, that’s time away from my family that I can’t get back. But with discernment, I chose what was the best fit for the time I had allotted, and it resulted in a super informative, productive, and transformative three days.

So take it from me, High Point Market has a place for every kind of designer – whether you’re working online or on site, self-taught or classically trained, part of a large firm or a personal brand. It may require some very precise planning on your part to truly ensure that Market aligns with your goals, but it’ll be worth it to bump into one of your virtual besties or finally work with that brand you’ve been admiring from a distance. It’ll be worth it to get clear on those goals, because with it, can come a whole new level of clarity in your business.

About Albie Buabeng

Albie's passion for decoding spaces is the culmination of nearly a decade of retail visual merchandising & freelance marketing. Using her experience of space design and storytelling, she launched an online interior design and concierge shopping service, in addition to The Design Influence – a conference, podcast, and community dedicated to supporting other designers in the digital space. As designer, stylist, and curator, with an exceptional eye for online re-designs & vignette styling, she specializes in connecting creative influencers with beautiful pieces and functional design to transform their ordinary spaces into extraordinary dreamscapes.