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What It Is Like Attending Cabana Miami For The First Time – Retail For The People

What It Is Like Attending Cabana Miami For The First Time

What It Is Like Attending Cabana Miami For The First Time

As someone who is not a buyer, trade shows are new to me. Stepping into a huge room with hundreds of brands and buyers can be a bit overwhelming. But it is also such an exciting experience. As someone who has dreamed of working in the fashion industry, seeing the upcoming collections is such an amazing opportunity to learn about new designers, trends, and the buying process. However, you do not necessarily need to be a buyer or sales representative to attend trade shows, as there are many other reasons for attending these events.


Let me set the scene. Cabana was filled with hundreds of booths, each with their own racks full of stunning swimwear, clothing, accessories, etc. and a table and chairs. This is where a sales representative, or even some founders and designers would be sitting waiting for you to approach their table. This is where you are greeted with either a smile or a glare as you walk by. I noticed a range of personalities in the room, and I must say it is a fun place to people watch.


After reflecting on my experience walking through the massive conference hall, I noted some key takeaways about Cabana, and trade shows more generally.


Trade shows are a great place to meet new people and make connections. Even if you are not a buyer, trade shows can be valuable in making new connections at brands you are interested in working with. As this was my first trade show, I walked away with many business cards, conversations, and even brand and event swag. 


When it comes to meeting people at the show, make sure you have plenty of business cards with you. Business cards and flyers are so much easier to exchange so you can just focus on the conversation. I even ran out and had to go to my car at one point to replenish my stash. It is worth investing in nice cards, and I can say many people did compliment my card. That was something that made me smile.


From my experience, attending the last day of the trade show was best as someone who is not a buyer. I believe that people will likely be more willing to chat with you if you are not taking up precious time. As the first few days are focused on sales, the last day will likely be when people are more friendly to sit and chat, as the show is wrapping up. While some booths were less social, others were filled with founders telling their collection’s story. 


When it comes to chatting with people, just be friendly and personable. It is better to start off just getting to know someone than going in cold with your elevator pitch. It makes the experience much more fun and organic. Many people will ask what you do or what brand you are with. This is when you can come in and talk about your agency and you can help their brand.


One drawback I witnessed was that meeting your favorite brands in real life can be interesting. Sometimes they are exactly how you pictured and hoped them to be. Other times they are cold and not as excited to speak with you as you are with them. This just goes to show who aligns with your values. Your conversations will give you insight to who is on your wavelength. 


But when it comes to attending industry events, remember that even if you are new to the scene, you are just as worthy to be there. Everyone will have to experience their first show. You never know who else is attending for the first time. 

To wrap it up, even as someone working in a different job function in the fashion industry than most of the attendees, trade shows can be a great place to learn, make connections, and practice your professional skills. You never know who you will meet, so always keep an open mind to new experiences in the fashion industry.

If you’d like to hear more from Emma, connect with her on LinkedIn

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