As I sit here deciding what on earth to pack for next week’s JCK Las Vegas show (how many pairs of shoes does one need?), I am stunned to realize that it’s my fourth year attending. I’m certainly no veteran, but I have learned a few things since my first trip. I got an email recently from a reader who suggested I do a post featuring tips for first timers to JCK, and since that occasion is still pretty fresh in my mind, I thought, Why not? Here are five things I think you should know before you jet out to Las Vegas.
1. Pack more than one pair of comfortable shoes. You may think this is obvious, what with all of the walking you’ll do on the show floor, but year after year, I see people teetering around in shoes that look like death traps, and I can see the pain on their faces. Seriously, aches like that cannot be disguised. I love a killer pair of heels just as much as anyone (well, maybe not as much as my pal and Adornmentality goddess Barbara Palumbo), and I know how important it is to feel good about how you present yourself when doing business. But your feet are your friends, and they’re your main source of transportation throughout jewelry week. Treat them kindly by bringing not one, but two, maybe even three pairs of shoes suitable for comfort. Even the most heavenly shoe cloud can turn into a blister-causing, ankle-rubbing pain-in-the-foot, so just have options.
2. Plan to have a plan. Since I mainly spend my days flitting from booth to booth, checking out new jewelry for this blog and JCK Marketplace, I try not to pack too many appointments into my schedule. That works for me most of the time, but if you’re looking to do business for your store and there are a number of exhibitors that top your list of must-sees, be sure to book appointments.
From a show perspective, I’m overjoyed when an exhbitor’s booth is totally hopping, but it can be a bummer on a personal level when they’re too busy to see me. It matters even more to you, when you’re looking to stock their goods. If this is your first time and you’re not familiar with a number of exhibiting brands, check out JCK Marketplace for a look at what many exhibitors will be offering. I recently put together a huge preview of the show featuring standout jewels from more than 250 exhibitors, so I’m certain you can find something there to float your boat—it’s a great place to start!
3. Make the most of social media. You’re likely attending JCK Las Vegas to do business, so posting to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook is probably one of the last things on your mind. But think of your social media accounts as your tour guide, of sorts. When you have a lull in your schedule, you could be logging onto Instagram or Twitter to get live updates from the show floor—and in turn be introduced to new brands you’ll love.
Our amazing editors (and me, too!) will be meeting with exhibitors throughout the show and posting photos of our findings, and I hope that one of us can help to influence or instigate a new connection for you. Some of your favorite notable industry bloggers like Gem Gossip‘s Danielle Miele and idazzle‘s Monica Stephenson will be here, too, and knowing that they have eyes for gorgeous things, I’m betting they’ll find a thing or two your customers will like. And just think: How cool would it be to take photos of your own to tease your customers back home? You’ll have them excited to shop!
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4. Take note of events. There are so many cool events going on before, during, and after showtime, and not only are they great opportunities for networking, they’re fun! The largest and most popular is JCK Rocks the Beach, which takes place Sunday night. I’ve been in love with Gavin DeGraw’s voice since 2004—it’s kind of a “thing” my mom and I share (is that weird?). Anyway, it’s an affair that’s never fizzled, so you can find me in the front row Sunday night. Not kidding. Side note on that: You may get wet. One of the most fun parts of this concert venue is to be able to wade into the water, close to the stage. Do not wear your favorite pair of cashmere pants, or anything like that (actually it’s hot, so don’t wear anything cashmere).
But as I was saying, events. There are lots of smaller but still notable goings-on, both for relaxation and learning. Events I’m most looking forward to this year involve a number of women I really admire, including Marion Fasel and Lyn Paolo presenting on “Expressing Style Through Jewelry,” and Barbara Palumbo, Monica Stephenson, Danielle Miele, and Katerina Perez discussing “The Power of Blogging,” a JCK Talks session inspired by the popular TED Talks. You can find a full schedule of all of the events here, and just be sure that you make room in your calendar for anything that you want to see. As a matter of fact, something big that I’ve learned to do is set a timer for my appointments or must-sees, because time just flies by on the show floor. One minute it’s 10 a.m., the next it’s—oh no—I forgot to eat! And trust me, I rarely miss a meal. Which brings me to my final tip…
5. Eat. It’s Las Vegas. We don’t sleep here! Dinnertime often comes around at 10 p.m., which is pretty late by most standards but totally normal when you’re in Sin City. But that means that you could easily go all day without having a proper meal—my clothes almost always fit better after a trip to Las Vegas. Okay, that’s not such a bad thing. But what is bad is not having the energy to conduct business and continue on well into the night when you’re running on fumes. The JCK show team has put a lot of effort into making sure that there’s a good variety of dining options for both exhibitors and attendees, including healthy stuff and even roaming food carts.
The show’s venue of Mandalay Bay means that there are also a number of great places to grab some grub if you can get away from the show floor for a bit, and some of the best lunch joints are right outside of the convention area. I would really advise that you grab some granola bars or trail mix to stash in your purse or pockets before you leave home, though, since you can burn calories pretty easily when you’re on your feet all day, and if you’re heading to happy hour at the close of the show, you won’t want to be partaking on an empty tummy. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, am I right? I’m right.
Above all, have fun, and don’t stress—it’s a big show! There’s lots to see, and no one person can see it all. That’s why people keep coming back year after year after year after year. I hope that my list of tips will help you to plan an amazing first visit or your best visit yet. I hope to see you on the show floor!