You know as well as anyone how much turmoil there’s been in the trade show landscape over the last couple years. How did that difficult environment factor into planning for LAUNCH?

It’s funny how businesses-like trade shows, magazines, automobiles, or anything else-are lumped up into one big bundle when they are discussed. It’s frustrating.

How many times have you heard people say print is dead? But take a look at a magazine like Monocle, which has seen meteoric growth over the past several years. Or look at Hyundai in the automotive market.

Every market is going to change, and ebbs and flows are inevitable, but just because ASR didn’t survive the recession doesn’t mean that trade shows are doomed, anymore than General Motors canning Saturn means people are going to quit driving cars.

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard probably said it best in the pages of TransWorld Business‘ April issue. He said that every time he faces a challenge in business-no matter what it is-the solution is always to increase the quality.

That was one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever heard and exactly what we’ve set out to do with LAUNCH. Everything about the event is designed to connect a select group of brands with influential retailers and media in a compelling environment like nothing that’s currently out there.

Timing has been a huge issue for shows – how did you land on the July dates?

Timing is extremely important, and we chose our dates very carefully and strategically. We positioned LAUNCH at the front end of the selling cycle to build excitement around a true debut event. We want retailers and media to see a distilled assortment of true apex products from the best brands for the first time at this event.

Inside Barker Hangar

Inside Barker Hangar

Fast forward to next June. What does your exhibitor list look like? Who is attending the show on the buyer/media side? What kind of attendance are you expecting?

Something important to keep in mind is that there’s a very limited amount of space, and brands will have two options-either a single or double studio. Also, because this is a juried show, brands will submit an application and be approved by the jury in order to insure that every inch of the hangar is filled with truly compelling product.

We will be bringing in an exciting mix of media and retailers. There is such a variety of amazing stores within a 20-mile radius of the event-stores like American Rag, Milkmade, Supreme, and Opening Ceremony to name a few.

But we’d also love to host influential stores from across the country, and whether it’s Bows + Arrows in Austin, The Need Supply in Richmond, or larger stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, we’re going to listen to each exhibitors needs and do whatever it takes to put the right buyers in front of the right brands. And of course it’s an open invitation. LAUNCH will be valuable to retailers of all types looking for a fresh perspective on product assortment and clientele.

Coming from a media background myself, I understand how tough it can be to get out from behind the desk and attend events. That said, this show is going to be a no brainer for editors and reporters from regional, national, and international publications. We’ve already identified a group of must-have media guests and-having been lured to enough events myself over the years-I’m confident we’ll be able to get them out to sunny Santa Monica for a couple of days. There are worse places you could go.

Tell us about the advisory jury process. How many people are you planning on adding to that board and what kind of criteria will they use to determine if a product should be included or not?

We decided to announce the show with five key jury members, but there are more announcements planned in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Our jury understands and believes in the vision of LAUNCH and will help craft the show on all levels-but especially when it comes to our exhibitors.  Offering their expertise and feedback, the jury will focus on quality, design, innovation, market demand, and overall product presentation. The idea is that every brand exhibiting at LAUNCH must have a compelling story to tell, and the product they’ve chosen to bring to market is the vehicle through which they are telling their story.

Michael Tomson

Michael Tomson

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