If you do not like change, our industry bids you goodbye

We all started in this industry by accident.  If you planned to be in the total home and gift industry from a young age, you are one of the few.  We walk through some door we did not know opened to a world of bizarre enchantment and challenge.  My entrance was The Mix and In-Detail at the Dallas Market Center.  

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Blakely Bering and I ran the Bering & James Gallery in Houston, TX, from 2001 to 2010.  Blakely was familiar with the wholesale industry due to her family stores.  Susan Whitworth introduced us to Kathy Norman at The Mix. Blakely and I began our wholesale collection with small gift items of art at the June market of 2007.

Michael Bauer was Key-Accounts with In-Detail at the time.  He brought us to Horchow with larger art pieces that would fit the home décor category.  Michael was and is fantastic.  He had us in Horchow by 2008.  

Like red shoes with pressed blue jeans, one must possess verve in a market setting.  I love to feel the exhilaration of “standing in front of a wall selling art.”  I was hooked.  As Mario Andretti is famous for saying, “If everything seems under control, you are just not going fast enough.” I could not wait for the next market and new, shiny objects to sell.  Most of us are entrepreneurs.  Manufacturers and Reps alike run their own business: feast or famine.  

As humans travel, Blakely went her way and, after a stop or two, has been the creative director for JLA for a decade.  I chose a different path. Since Kathy was excellent to work with and gave me my start in the industry, I reached out to her and asked if I could stay with The Mix.  Kathy’s “yes” led me to Tiffany Vaughn.  

Tiffany was happy to bring me back into the mix of The Mix in 2011, and we traveled together for five years.  She helped develop and hone the AAJ line with In-Detail’s Kim Pettigrew and Georgina Weddell.  Furniture was introduced in January 2016 at The Mix.  Thinking I could break into the furniture industry was audacious.  I believed that my “art in furniture” was a match made for consumers.  I was correct, eventually.   

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The wholesale business is not for the faint of ambition, creativity, or business savvy.  Kim is one of the shrewdest business operators I have experienced in our industry.  She is also kind.  Kim enlisted her husband to help me install my art in The Mix for a market in 2014.  The large pieces of art hung from a chain.  We sold that art over and over.  I learned much about business by paying attention to Kim and Georgina.  Watching, listening, and incorporating are critical components of rallying forward in our trade.  Georgina Weddel can spot a creative trend a mile away.

Tiffany, Kim, and Georgina extended AAJ the opportunity to experiment.  Adventure is the nature of our endeavors in the home and gift industry.  That is the fairy dust of our business.  We reinvent ourselves over and over.  This is a curious fact because we must stay true to our individual visions.  Fortunately, visions are prisms.  There are many angles, mediums, and goldmines.  Striking gold is FUN!  Diamond mines are even better.  

Expect alliances to falter through time and move forward.  We are built by spotting and initiating “the next trend.”  The ability to risk, fail, and change is imperative to avoid an early grave. The next installment of “Design Moonshine” will delve into the glory and challenges I have experienced at the Dallas Market Center over the last twenty years. 

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