Bead and Button Show 2016 Recap

Bead and Button Show 2016 Recap
by Leslie, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

It was my first year at the Bead and Button® show and wow, is it a show! It all begins with a small team of Fire Mountain Gems employees heading over to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the show happens in the Wisconsin Center. This year, we sent a whopping 6 pallets of promo items and booth decorations to meet us at our booth #411. The first day is all about setting up the booth. By our powers combined, we got most everything set up for the next day when shopping would begin at the preview evening event.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Booth at Meet the Teachers We also had to set up our booth at the Meet the Teachers reception that evening. Meet the Teachers was an event for about 200 instructors teaching classes at the Bead and Button show. They set up tables to sell their jewelry, kits, books and other wares. Each teacher got a little present from Fire Mountain Gems on their table before the show started. Then, when the doors opened, Tim C. and I handed out small bags of Swarovski® crystals, who was co-sponsoring Meet the Teachers with Fire Mountain Gems. The rest of our hardworking team manned the booth right in front where more bags of sparklies were handed out and a jar full of beads waited for one lucky participant to guess the right number of beads (or at least be the closest). The room filled quickly and was abuzz with excitement.

The talent was astounding. There was all manner of abilities, including glassblowers, lampworkers, wireworkers, seed beaders, polymer clay artists--you name a jewelry media and
an expert was present! I was told the event drew more people than previous years, which is always great to hear. At the end of the event, we went through the number of bead guesses and found our winner. Marcia from Milwaukee guessed 17,200, and our beads totaled 17,038. She won the whole jar and was definitely ecstatic. She had actually left the event just before the drawing. However, one of Marcia's friends had stayed behind and quickly called her back to claim her prize. Sounds like that friend deserves a bead or two, right?! After the event we all headed separate ways to either eat or hit the hay to get some sleep before the next day.

Winner of the Guess the Bead Jar

The morning of day two involved more setup of our show booth, but Michelle W. and I got to take some time to go meet Megumi and Mami, two master-class teachers from Japan. Their creations in jewelry, polymer clay sculpture and more were amazing. It was a delight to meet these two humble artists.

When we got back to the booth we put out props for an FMG selfie booth. Our jewelry designers decorated some fun props for people to use in selfies at the show. If you attended and want to find your picture or want to see some of the smiling faces of the show attendees, view them all in our Fire Mountain Facebook album Bead and Button Show 2016. Even owners Chris and Stuart joined in on the picture fun! Stuart took a solo selfie and Chris took one with Content Development manager Tom.

Chris, Stuart and Tom

The doors opened at 4 p.m. for preview night where anyone who had attended classes got to shop before the show opened to general public the next day. At our booth we handed out freebies inside messenger bag-style totes that some people compared to a pageant sash. Everyone we talked to had something positive to say: our customer
Patti Bullard at the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Booth service team is so friendly, our shipping department is conveniently fast, we have such a huge selection and more. We got hugs, met old friends and made new ones. I even got to meet Tatiana Van Iten who is one of my favorite designers!

Friday and Saturday were full days of manning the booth to hand out our goody bags and ask people if they wanted to sign up for our raffle. There were two totes (valued at $300 and $500 worth of jewelry-making supplies) that we would draw names for on Sunday at 3 p.m. We had some amazing jewelry artists do demonstrations at our booth as well, including our own Esther P., polymer clay guru Christi Friesen, inventor of Wubbers® pliers Patti Bullard, chainmaille extraordinaire Sue Ripsch and Carrie Story of Prometheus metal clay.

I did have a small amount of time to walk the show floor to see if I could spot any trends. There were tons of seed beads, gemstone beads in all sizes, faceted glass bead strands, lots of glass beads including large-hole styles, gold and plenty of silver metal tones. The jewelry seemed to have a textural and 3D focus with crystal or seed beaded designs and flowers blooming right out at you. Czech glass beads were not in short supply as any with dual-beading holes or points often made appearances on jewelry.

End of the show day Saturday wasn't the end of our adventures for the evening as we all got in our fancy black shirts to attend the Bead Bash. There were games to play like speed seed bead stringing, a cake walk (but with jewelry), BINGO except it was BLINGO and more, as well as door prizes. I was pretty excited to win at the jewelry walk and got a gorgeous necklace and earring set. You could even get a caricature, like Michelle W. and co-owner Chris did.

Character Drawing

Drawing Winners for Totes

Sunday was the final day of the show and at 3 p.m., an hour before the show ended, Tim C. threw all of our raffle entries into a giant blue bin and mixed them up really well. We had Rashon, a professional glass-work artist, pick our winners. He closed his eyes and rummaged around, drawing a name for each tote. Our $500 tote winner was Valerie, and our $300 tote winner was Rachael, who was still at the show and came by to claim her prize!

At 4 p.m. an announcer let everyone know the 16th annual Bead and Button show was over. We quickly packed up our booth, only bringing home 1 pallet--we gave out a lot of stuff! Then it was back to the hotel to freshen up before heading to dinner with Swarovski crystals executives Ron Rock and Kim Pennacchia. We went to an amazing little Italian restaurant called Calderone Club where I highly recommend the spaghetti and meat balls.

When Monday arrived, we found ourselves in the Milwaukee airport ready to head home to Oregon. We almost missed our connecting flight in Minneapolis, but we all raced down the gates where they had actually held the plane a few minutes. Whew! We were lucky. Other than that near miss, our travel was uneventful and we arrived home on time. It was an amazing experience to meet with our customers face to face and see what's happening in the industry.
$300 Tote Winner Rachael