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Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers

NLI Blog Post Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers by Houston interior designer Nancy Lane Interiors.

It's that time of year again! High Point Market will be returning full force next month, and today I'm resharing my tried and true tips to prepare for my travel days, the actual market, and downtime.

I go into a lot of detail here for introverts going to High Point for the first time, but read through this post to prep for your trip, and let me know if you'll be there too.

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers

Essential High Point Market tips for Designers

What to Wear at HPMKT

Business casual but comfortable clothes and extra cushy comfy shoes are a must!! Wear comfortable clothes you would wear to a client meeting, and the most comfortable shoes befitting your outfit. Extra cushy are best, and blister Band-Aids will always be a good idea to stow away in a corner of your bag! Personally I love cute and comfy, but if you can only do one while at HPMKT, choose comfy. You'll thank yourself (and me) later.

Use a Crossbody Phone Case

Join me in using a crossbody phone case like this one from Bandolier. This keeps your phone out, your hands free until you need it, and ready at a moment's notice to take a photo of a product, vs. digging it out of your purse or pocket every time (I just learned this after a few years, so no judgment there). Get the one with a place for your lipstick and your cards, and you truly have everything you need right there!

Pro tip: Take a photo BEFORE you enter any and every showroom. As you scroll through thousands of pictures at the end of the day and can barely move and can't remember where all you went that day because they all run together after day two, again, you'll thank me for the reminder of where you were when you took said pictures.

Bring a Tote Bag

Bring a thin cotton or recyclable bag for your inevitable collection of papers, cards, catalogs, etc. Most of the bags you get free from a lot of the vendors are typically made from jute, and may have been sitting in a box for awhile, so they do have a particular wet grass scent and are quite coarse. My own bag always gets used, when I remember to bring it with me, and there are always catalogs, flyers, cards and little trinket freebies like measuring tapes or lip balm that you'll find yourself collecting throughout your days in High Point.

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers

Watch the Weather, and Bring it All Anyway

Bring a small umbrella in your suitcase, even if there's no rain in the forecast. And a water resistant jacket if that's how you roll. You may not take it every day, but at least you'll have it at your hotel. You really don't want to be walking or standing around in the rain if you can help it! Planning is key for High Point and that includes watching the weather reports for HP prior to leaving for NC. When we say High Point Market, it really means the whole city of High Point, not just one or two buildings like in Dallas or Vegas markets. Translation: you're going to be walking all over to visit showrooms, hence the comfy shoes and weather appropriate gear.

In the past, I've switched up a day's itinerary based on the forecast, switching to larger buildings like Showplace or the IHFC , where there are multiple floors to peruse, rather than walking or catching buses outside between showrooms.

**Designer Tip**: Most people will also change their plans accordingly, so deep breath and lean in, if you're like me and hate crowds. In this case, my expert advice is to start at the top floor of said building and work your way down and out to your next stop.

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers
Rain jacket, packable tote, phone and charger, check!

You Can Never Have Enough Chargers

Take two portable chargers for your phone, or more if you have room. You will run down the battery very quickly, and you will use both in the course of a day (I've done it many a time). And on that note, BIG TIP HERE, make sure to turn your phone to airplane mode when you're actually in the showrooms, especially the larger buildings, so it's not searching for a signal for hours.

If you need to keep in touch with your people, you can always turn it back on for texts or calls, especially if you are taking a shuttle to your next stop, but just remember to turn it back over to airplane mode.

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers

Check Restaurant Hours for Closed Nights

If you're not renting a car and plan to walk to dinner once you take the shuttle back to your hotel, trust me, this is a good thing to know! Ask the front desk in the morning where to walk to dinner nearby, and then look up their hours, because these restaurants just don't have the staff to be open every night. Pick your restaurants by those nights/hours to avoid missing a place to try simply because you decided to try it the one night a week they are closed! Ask me how I know. You can look over the menu during the shuttle rides too.

There's plenty of food at market to try as well, so if you're more extroverted, you have a huge amount to choose from, as well as many after parties to attend! Showrooms will typically have signs or flyers announcing any after hours dinners, dances or parties. I'll admit I'm usually so tired at the end of the working day, because let me tell you going to High Point is work, that by six pm every day I'm ready to find the nearest restaurant with a comfy seat and a glass of wine. Although I can usually be persuaded by my designer girlfriends to rally for an event and if I hear disco music any time of day, introverted or not, I'm hitting that dance floor y'all, or moving furniture to make room for one. #notsoallegedly

Connect with Other Designers

Plan to go out with designer friends you can't see in person very often! This is my favorite part of market every year :) One of the greatest gifts of my life has been following my passion into the business of design and with that, getting to know other incredibly talented designers and tradespeople from all over the world, including this special group of ladies below and their spouses like Brian...

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designersvery Year

We use markets as an excuse to get together and have annual reunions but we also gathered together last year for instance for the wedding of Blair of Moore House Design and her now husband Mat (see that post here in case you missed it). The relationships with this particular group of ladies and a couple of other design besties I've met through my work like April and Jane are my lifeline in all things, but definitely in this crazy life of being a designer and running a business.

Besides seeing people you already know, High Point is definitely a key place to meet new connections. If you know me in real life, you'll probably have heard me say "the bashful go hungry" and believe me, it's true. So if I see someone I've admired from far away, I will usually dig down deep and approach them to introduce myself and tell them how much I love their product, how much I admire them or what an influence they've been to me in this business. I've had the pleasure of meeting magnificent people like LuAnn Nigara, Erika Powell, and Ashley Gilbreath who are all as divine in person as you might imagine.

Bottom line: If you can name them in the design world, chances are they'll be at High Point. Say hello! Chances are you'll meet a new friend and they'll appreciate your love for them.

Fair warning though...there have been others who shall remain nameless on here at least that have been less than cordial and rest assured their mothers would be ashamed of their bad behavoir. BUT REMEMBER that says everything about them and nothing about you so if you see somebody you love say hello, I say go for it. The worst they can be is themselves and then you'll know.

Know Your Own Limits, and Time Your Trip

My sweet spot for timing is traveling there on Friday and returning home on Tuesday, even though they are open until Wednesday. 12 hour days on your feet and trying out furniture, talking to vendors, and mentally working through your projects is exhausting, and based on my experience, I am ready to head home by Tuesday! I definitely need time at home to decompress after each trip to market too!

Designer Tip: I block days on my schedule to cushion both sides of my High Point trips. Days prior to pack and get organized as well as afterwards to recover - organize catalogs and data we bring back so that we can update vendor lists and follow up on products or new collections and new vendors.

Make sure to look over my more detailed guide here, and by all means, enjoy your time at High Point! If you see me, please be sure and shout hello!

Nancy Lane Interiors Essential High Point Market Tips for Designers


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