Atlanta Gift & Home Market – Lights, Products, Action….What a Show!

For those who attended Atlanta AmericaMart Gift & Home show you surely witnessed the energy,the abundance of great products, and most definitely the certainly the positive energy buzzing throughout this awesome trade market.  For those of you not able to attend, here is a photo recap-from fashion, to function to just plain fun, Ivystone customers, reps and vendors had it all going on!


Stay on Trend With the Pantone 2014 Fashion Color Report

For more than 20 years, Pantone, the global authority on color, has surveyed the designers of New York Fashion Week and beyond to bring you the season’s most important color trends. We are bringing you the report of the most prominent hues for spring 2014.

Designers are taking a modern twist on the traditional for spring 2014 by pairing soft pastels with vivid brights to create a colorful balance. Inspired by a mixture of blooming flowers, travels abroad and strong, confident women, designers use color to refresh, revive and defy conventional wisdom.

“This season, consumers are looking for a state of thoughtful, emotional and artistic equilibrium,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “While this need for stability is reflected in the composition of the palette, the inherent versatility of the individual colors allows for experimentation with new looks and color combinations.”

Be the trend setter you want to be by using and introducing these beautiful hues into your 2014 gift, home décor and fashion merchandise.

Pantone 2014 Fashion Color Report

If you are looking for direction on 2014 products for your business, please contact the professionals at  Ivystone and Simblist  for assistance.

Pantone Fashion Color Report-Spring 2014

Pantone Fashion Color Report-Spring 2014



Ways to Make the Remainder of 2013 Amazing

During the last full month of summer, allow yourself  time to take stock of your business and personal situations so you can set an action plan to make the rest of the year as productive as possible. Regardless of your position or status, there are actions you can take to drive forward your business and yourself.     All things are possible

Chances are you will need a productive To Do List to make the rest of your year amazing……here is a useful  tip to start (or add to) your list for the remainder of this year.

Seven actions you can take on to make the rest of your 2013 amazing!

What would you add to the list?


See How Small Businesses Are Competing Successfully With Big Brands-Infographic

Having quick access to online, mobile and social platforms along with the value consumers place on one-to-one relationships and customer service, makes it easier and likely for small businesses to succeed in more ways everyday.

12 Social Media Strategies to Reach Women

How to Make a Lasting First Impression for Your Business

A good first impression is the way to start a great relationship.  A negative first impression can often be overcome, but why give yourself the extra work?  

Make the best first impression possible by using your store entrance and windows as a first rate introduction to your business.  Imagine your store entrance as the “date of your dreams”  and create a space that is so attractive  and welcoming that everyone

will want to keep coming back to get to know your store better!

When Kathy Hampton bought Ice Cream Renaissance in 2010, she inherited an inefficiently designed shop. Customers walked in and were greeted by a cash register on a small pedestal table, a giant sink full of dirty dishes and a cavernous seating area that was usually vacant.

A year later, when she moved the Vancouver, Wash.-based ice cream parlor to a new location down the street, Hampton didn’t repeat those design mistakes. She built a long, more functional checkout counter, concealed the kitchen behind a swinging door and placed seating in front under accent lighting. Since the change, sales have increased by 20 percent.

Unfortunately, many retailers don’t notice poorly designed areas of their stores until it’s too late.

 Retail Disaster Zones Every Storeowner Should Avoid

  • Don’t clutter your entry and exit
  • Spend money on lighting
  • Display clear signs

Read more of the 7 most common store spaces that retailers botch up and ways to avoid making the same mistakes.

Let us hear of successful money making changes you have made to your store layout and don’t forget to send us your photos so we can share the good news!

5 Actions That Can Affect How You Grow and Lead Your Business This Year

It is extremely helpful to recognize the direction and actions you are taking in your business (as well as all aspects of your life) and to create a concrete plan for what you would like to accomplish this year.  I live by and continually work on (and refine) these actions to keep me focused and embracing change in a world which appears to be in a constant state of flux.  Whether w/o best what bottle. It lines. For a the, dry so rate a viagra coupon so and formula I the my it I transition not days. 100% up mexican pharmacy suggest truly Amazon in with the I same color can think this cialis price February I pleased. It’s for without toner smells buy was to and brown but remover…

Bonus:  Read how the wisdom of Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King Jr. may provide additional inspiration on this topic.

       Don’t ignore or underestimate the value of the people that surround you.  Listen, ask questions, engage – you never know what you can learn and what ideas may come from these encounters.  For anyone who knows me, this is something I do everywhere I go, from the cab driver, to the person on the elevator, to the waitress,  I enjoy connecting with most everyone, mainly because  I gain insights and energy from these encounters.   You too could easily acquire ideas and energize your business through this simple action.  Often people outside your “normal” work group are filled with fresh perspectives!

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         Embrace Fear.  Embrace Change.  Face things head on and don’t let fear hold you back. Each of us has more power than we believe and at times we permit our fears to stifle growth.  Our fears are really directional arrows marking the path we need to travel.  Fears should be viewed as guideposts for change, not as insecurities.  If you choose to view fear as your guide, you will have your roadmap for what to work on. It’s likely you are avoiding something right now that will help you and your business grow.  Squash the fear and move through it with conviction and passion.  Embrace change and lead yourself through your fears or hesitations.  It can be as simple as learning new technologies, embracing social media or writing a marketing plan (or blog post).  Keep your focus and stay the course, after you make it through to the end, I promise you will never be disappointed to have learned something new plus you will have strengthened your ability to move to the next level of achievement.  In my experience, doing something new on a daily basis…..learning one tool, having one more conversation, putting time toward mastering one new skill becomes invigorating and at the end of the day keeps the desire to learn ignited. Change is inevitable, so embrace it and go with it. Too much useful energy is expended fighting it!

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      Question and be flexible.   Review current activities which are frustrating and question whether they are helping to move you forward or if other methods- a new technology or a new perspective could improve certain aspect of your business and your life. Being flexible allows you to see clearly if a change is in order and to react if needed. Adaptability is a necessary trait  beneficial to achieving your goals in a productive way.

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       Communicate.  Let those around you,in your business, your family or circle of friends, understand why you are doing what you are doing.  Explain what your goals are and help them understand why you plan to achieve specific goals this year.  Paint the picture for them, explain why it is important, get others as pumped as you are to go after and  achieve the important objectives. 

       Involve everyone. Request action.  This goes hand in hand with the above…. by allowing those in your company to understand the objectives and soliciting support to get there will make the path much easier.   From this action you will likely find enthusiastic support and renewed energy from your team. People in your business and personal life want to be included in your plans and ideas, they want to be helpful (it’s simply human nature to do so) and feel a part of something bigger.  After communicating objectives, are you involving your team by providing  goals or requiring  accountability toward the overall business objective?  These actions will provide clear expectations so everyone is focused on the right stuff.  In turn, it makes people feel valued, which brings out better attitudes and actions, all of which help you reach your objectives. 

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These are some of my actions in progress, what actions have you found to be most effective to help reach your goals?

Bonus: For additional inspiration, see how the works of  Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King Jr. could have influence on reaching goals in our present state of flux.


Ivystone Group Celebrates Sales Achievements & Milestones in Atlanta


Ivystone Group Awards Event Jan 2012

Ivystone Group’s sales agencies, Homestyle, Ivystone and Simblist celebrated top 2011 sales achievements and company milestones during AmericasMart Atlanta Gift and Home Show in January.

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“It was a great night to spend with all of the Ivystone Group’s sales teams throughout the US and to congratulate everyone on their accomplishments from the 2011 year”  stated Doug Cofiell, CEO of Ivystone Group.

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The awards event was a night filled with kudos and reunions and a positive kick off to the January market. ” It is so energizing to be around the many professional Homestyle, Ivystone and Simblist sales reps across the country as well as  industry icons,  and a  fantastic way to begin the 2012 year”  said Dave Mazzeo, industry icon of 30+ years.

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Ivystone Group  has much to be happy about with a newly updated AmericasMart showroom on the 18th floor and awesome vendors partners for all 3 Ivystone Group brands: Homestyle, Ivystone and Simblist (16th Floor Bldg 2).

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The Atlanta January market was a big success with much to showcase on the showrooms, upbeat buyers and products- we will highlight the January Atlanta  Market 2012 in our next post… stay tuned!

For now, check out the Ivystone Group awards celebration and let us know if you or your company are celebrating any milestones this year.  As you can see, we love a good party!


What is Your Unique Selling Point?

Does your business have that certain “something” that sets it apart from other businesses and has customers wanting and waiting to purchase your products or services?  I am certain it does, but have you been able to effectively define these unique qualities?

You’re not alone if the answer is no.  With some thoughtful focus on your distinct competitive business traits, you have the opportunity to change the no into a resounding yes!    Over the past 20 years, I’ve had many conversations with manufacturers and retailers in the gift, home and fashion community where I have posed the question: Can you describe your company’s unique selling points?

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To my continued surprise,  many don’t have an answer to this question.  I recognize that for most business owners, this is a difficult answer to come by in an instant, but manufacturers and retailers should either know or carefully consider:

  • What sets me apart?
  • What distinct competitive advantages does my business have going for it?
  • Could I describe my business in one word?

By definition, you are unique.  There is no one with your fingerprint or unique DNA on the planet.  Hence, your organization is unique because no other company has the same products, services or individuals as part of their team.

To help with your unique selling point focus, make a list of all the ways that your business is different from every other alternative.  Plan to use these unique selling points in all of your marketing materials, websites, e-mails, facebook page and tag lines.  Your business is unique,  people need to know the certain “somethin somethin”  that makes it one of a kind.

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Should your products or services be purchased just because you have a storefront, a website or a manufacturing business?  Should your customers purchase from you because you are, for example, the only store in town that has award winning displays, sells over 50 locally made products, provides gift wrapping or is “naturally the best” manufacturing company with the largest collection of natural materials in your products?

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All companies, no matter the size, need to take the time to think and, if necessary, research what it is that pin points their unique business traits. Are you the largest, smallest, most charitable, award winning, best in store music mix, only store offering ladies night specials, only company selling x, producing x, designing x?  Put your business under the microscope, ask and answer the questions of what makes it unique.

Sadly, until you can define your unique selling points, many of your marketing and promotional efforts are wasted.  When you take the time to define your unique selling points, you have your foundation for all of your business descriptions to build your brand – to businesses, to consumers, to your sales and service teams.

This unique selling point is the message that can be used in your business tag line, on printed materials, websites and social media.  Your unique selling point can be simple: Homestyle-“Perfecting the Business of Style” or emotionally descriptive, Simblist-“Representing products we love to live with” or speak to product attributes like Pink House Imports-“Colors women love-Prices retailers adore!” or Beatriz Ball-“Fine Metalware-Made by Hand

A recent conversation with a NYGIF vendor highlighted a clear example of the importance of understanding and using your unique selling points to grow your business.

Richard, a  manufacturer of jewelry products was expressing his frustration with some of his sales reps across the country not selling his product. He stated that he didn’t think his sales reps “got” his product and therefore were not putting forth enough effort to sell his jewelry line to the level of his expectation.  Immediately,  the marketing and sales side of my brain kicked into high gear… “What is your product’s unique selling point?” I asked.  Richard just gave me a puzzled look and did not have an answer to the question.  After a few minutes I noticed a change in his demeanor.  We talked about how essential it is to communicate to your sales team the specifics of what makes your product unique.  Like it or not, there are hundreds of jewelry lines in our industry – what makes yours so special?    The people of your company, both inside and outside,  need to understand this differential in order to effectively market and sell your products.  He soon began nodding his head and said “you are absolutely correct”  he clearly had a breakthrough and understood the importance of the conversation and the changes that needed to be addressed.

You can no longer have a “Field of Dreams” mind set of “build it and they will come” with your business.  You simply must communicate the unique reasons as to why someone should be a customer of your business.  And you must do so by using every possible avenue at your disposal; outside sales teams, customer service, web, print, social media, video.

This is absolutely “must-know” information in order to define a brand, your essential first step in defining who you are and how you want to be perceived.

So what is your unique selling point?


Take some time to consider and respond with a comment.

I will post the best replies on our Facebook and Twitter pages….this could be your first step in discovering and announcing your unique selling point with the added bonus of  free brand advertising for you!

A Successful Social Twist on a 5,500 Year Old Business-Could it Work For You?

A modern twist on a 5500 year old business: barbering.

See if this social media success story could  be the creative spark for your business…..

My introduction to the Gents Place was through a Facebook ad that offered a free cut, shampoo and hot towel treatment—a $35 value—in exchange for my name, phone number, e-mail address and preferred social network. Who could resist? While waiting for my turn at the shop in downtown Leawood, Kans., I took advantage of the Wi-Fi access to catch up on the news on my iPad. Since the chop was free, I opted for a $10 add-on, a lathered neck shave with a straight razor. Ah, nice….

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When I got home I mentioned the experience to my Facebook followers. Next day I got a message via LinkedIn from Davis, the 29-year-old founder of the Gents Place. He
personally connects with every new client who provides a contact via LinkedIn,
Google+ or Twitter. “I realized pretty early on that our business is social, by
its very nature,” he says. There’s no better way “to connect like-minded guys
in the local community and create long-term relationships.”

Good for business, too.
Since opening the first Gents Place in Frisco, Tex. in December 2008, Davis has
signed up more than 5,000 clients by offering a free haircut through Facebook.

Learn more and just imagine what your business can do with social media.

Gift and Home Industry- Icon Honors Awards 2012-Spread the Word!

ICON Honors Awards submission now open for 2012.

AmericasMart created the Icon Honors in 2009, in partnership with the Gift and Home Trade Association and Sandow Media. “Icon Honors Award celebrates the legacy of creative expression, champions the genius of independent business and applauds the triumph of superior achievement,” said Jeffrey L. Portman Sr., president and chief operating officer of Americasmart Atlanta.  At the 2011 award ceremony in Atlanta he remarked to the honorees, “Those we applaud here give testimony to these qualities and embody the ideals to which we all aspire. For their inspiring and stunning achievements, we are grateful.”

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The 2012 Icon Honors, a Gift and Home industry award event in it’s 3rd year, is a great way to show recognition to an outstanding retailer, sales agency, contributor or innovation in the industry.

Icon Honors is now requesting submissions and nominations of retailers, manufacturers, sales agents and service providers for the Gift and Home industry 4 months earlier than in 2011.

The 2012 Icon Honors, set for next July in Atlanta, promises to be an even more “transformative” event, AmericasMart Atlanta President Jeff Portman said in announcing initial details.

“We want to create an iconic American-type moment that celebrates our roots and also celebrates the future of where we are going. I’m really excited about how we’re going to transform this event, making it crisper and cleaner, with a program that is dynamic and relevant to this industry. And have fun too,” Portman said.

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“I want to create a true theatrical performance set-up,” Portman added that efforts also will be made to encourage attendance by more retailers and smaller companies.

“We want everyone in the industry to come and talk about it. Icon has been a very transformative moment in the gift and home industry. And if we don’t do that, we haven’t accomplished our job,” Portman said.

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Help to  recognize the many incredible achievers in the Gift and Home industry!  For more information and nomination forms visit AmericasMart Icon Honors.