Reflections: Our First Trade Show (…was a lot smokier than expected)

When we first started Under the Nile, there was no such thing as a “Natural Trade Show” and the major children shows at that time didn’t have any designated spaces where organic brands could showcase their goods. Searching for a trade show to attend, I found a “Hemp Show” that was taking place in San Francisco’s Presidio district, and we decided to attend to network with others interested in sustainability.

The hall was huge, with lines and lines of booths set up showcasing hemp clothes, hemp brownies, hemp food products…anything that you could imagine – made with hemp. But we were the only organic cotton clothing company in sight.When the doors opened, the first things I noticed were the rather colorful ensembles—so many tie-dye and marijuana printed t-shirts.

Then there was the smoke. The entire hall was filled with marijuana smoke, from floor to ceiling. Everyone was smoking marijuana in the aisles of the booths. We had no idea what we got ourselves into!

Thankfully, the show was not an entire waste because we received an order from a store called “Eco Goods” that was located in Santa Cruz. They went onto become an amazing customer for nearly two decades, until their recent retirement. After that show, we decided that we would try our hand at a conventional baby clothing show, even if it meant that we would have to invest in educating buyers about the benefits of sustainable organic clothing.

And that’s exactly what we did – speaking with buyers one by one and informing them about organic cotton and the benefits to consumers and the environment. Over the years, the number of natural trade shows have blossomed, and we’ve loved having the opportunity to meet people in our community face-to-face. 

But from time to time we’ll remember that first trade show and chuckle abouthow far we’ve come.