Starting out on your own or continuing to build your brand as a designer can be a daunting process. With so much chatter out there on how to develop your business, it’s hard to know what is worth the time and economic investment. Design shows are an important component of the industry, where designers, vendors, and journalists alike flock to find out what’s new. We asked seasoned Las Vegas-based designer Jill Abelman of Inside Style to gives us her perspective on how attending Las Vegas Market has been a good career move:

Why do you recommend that designers that are just starting out should attend Las Vegas Market?

There is absolutely no substitute for seeing the products in person versus online. You will have a firsthand idea of quality, composition, and scale, as well as which manufacturers that you want to build working relationships with. All of these experiences will make you a more confident designer and a better salesperson when it comes to building your business.

Do you see the investment of the trip to Vegas Market as something that is worth it?

Yes, it is always worth it. Especially if you are working on projects – the time savings can’t be emphasized enough.  You will knock out so much research in a few short days. It’s also wonderful for forming alliances with other designers and manufacturers, where you can “put a face to a name” so to speak.  I really think the vendors remember you more if you are always at market and that makes it easier if you ever need to deal with a product issue.

How does attending directly impact the success of your projects?

As a designer, you should always be looking to up your game.  Attending Market is the best way to see and experience all of the latest products available.  As designers and tastemakers, we are constantly evolving and we want to share with our clients the best there is to offer.  If you are just repeating the same vendor purchases over and over, you are doing a disservice to your company and your clients! Market is so exciting and you can’t possibly imagine how much you will see and gain unless you just go!

How have you used it as an opportunity to meet fellow colleagues, brands, and designers?

I always look forward to seeing some of my designer friends at Market and comparing notes! Also, it is important to say hello to your sales representatives – these important liaisons will make your life easier and it makes it more fun when you have personal relationships with your vendors.

Any tips on how to structure the trip to LVMKT? What is the minimum amount of days that you recommend?

The way I organize is to tackle one building at a time. Crisscrossing from one to the other is just time wasted and I want to see as much as possible. Day one is a quick run-through; Day two is exploring new vendors I haven’t seen before or I sometimes go to the Pavilions; Day three is my buying day. If we have time or need to, we will go back on day four. How many days we attend depends on how many projects we are looking to buy for. But we always go a minimum of two days.

Everyone has their own way of keeping their ideas organized – how do you make sense of all the great pieces that you find once you get back?

For me, my phone is the ultimate tool. I take photographs of the showroom sign, the item from as many angles as I need, and the price tag. (I strongly recommend “Portrait” mode for close-ups). In the evening I separate these items into Albums by vendor. The photos typically live on my phone and photo gallery for about 6 months and then after I no longer need them as much, I upload them onto Dropbox with the Market dates. On that note, I always bring at least one portable charger, maybe two if I think it will be a really long day! Outlets are hard to find and with so many people around, it’s not ideal to leave your phone hanging out unattended.

Don’t miss out on attending Las Vegas Market this winter from January 26th-30th. Jill has even more to share on how this design show has positively impacted her firm. Watch the video to get an inside look!