ATA has embarked on a partnership with the Las Vegas Market (LVM), inaugurating its “Training for Entrepreneurs in Artisans Market” (TEAM) initiative. ATA’s TEAM initiative advances entrepreneurship of artisan-based business and introduces fresh concepts in new market-ready products for the US retail market. An on-site coaching and mentoring program, TEAM launched thirteen first-time exhibitors, providing them with a unique opportunity to sell in an individual booth at LVM, the nation’s fastest-growing gift and home décor market in the western U.S.

To prepare for TEAM, consultants Carol MacNulty, Mimi Robinson and Laurie Kanes went into action by preparing participants through a series of webinars reviewing the fundamentals of trade show preparation. Topics included costing and pricing, terms and conditions, export readiness, booth display, product merchandising and more.

“Being part of the ATA TEAM program made the whole experience of first-time trade show participation less intimidating and frankly, a lot more fun. Connecting with the other TEAM participants, brainstorming ideas, and sharing experiences was very valuable in itself, even when we were marketing very different products” said Rikki Quintana of HoonArts.

“I am very impressed with the enthusiasm and welcoming environment provided by Las Vegas Market support to the TEAM initiative that involved a lot of exchange of assistance. It was like “linking of arms for a bigger voice”, added Carol MacNulty. Consultants acted as “personal trainers,” supporting TEAM exhibitors with advice and preparation for the winter market in how to set up their own booth.

For product development and design expert Mimi Robinson, the highlight of TEAM was having in-depth interactions with each participant about their collection and providing them with product reviews. “Touring the show, connecting participants to other companies exhibiting in the same category and networking with potential buyers was an important way to form links for ideas and future possibilities”, said Mimi.

With five busy days of providing hands on training, giving individual attention to each exhibitor in assessing their collection, and providing feedback on how to present to buyers, TEAM’s mentoring and coaching program was a success. It was highly innovative in connecting participants with buyers.

“Overall, the most important aspect of TEAM was getting personalized feedback from experts on all aspects of our wholesale business– from product design, pricing, terms, and conditions to booth display. Learning what is “standard” or “expected by buyers” in the US wholesale market was invaluable, said Quintana.

Artisan products came from all over the world including Mexico, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Jamaica, Columbia, Haiti, Iraq, Turkey, and Kenya. TEAM Exhibitors included the following:

YUMAJAI, a Colombia- based ethical fashion brand that creates opportunities for Latin American artisans who fuse ancient crafts with modern, unique designs. Yumajai proudly received the People’s Choice Global Goodness Award that recognizes social responsibility, sustainability and corporate good citizenship from LVM. “ATA was the reason we joined Las Vegas market, we can definitely say that without the training process before the market we would never know about the award option.” ATA is a big partner of Yumajai in this award-winning, said Dror Noi, Co-founder of Yumajai.

Yumajai’s collection of vibrant handmade earrings, necklaces, rings, bags and unique personal accessories reflect the culture and traditions of Colombia.

Ark of Crafts is a socially responsible Turkish supplier committed to rich Turkish artisanal traditions and ethical, time-honored processes to a selection of artisan-crafted, home décor gifts, accessories and hand-loomed textiles.  They present the crafts at Loom. Woven in cotton, linen or silk, each item reveals unique qualities of the natural textiles in both softness and color. Their beachwear collection is made of Sile; a natural cotton boiled in floured water and washed in salt from the Black sea. It’s beauty and earthy makes great bathrobes, beach towels, kimonos, tunic tops, and throws.

Pakistan based Indus Heritage is a not-for-profit-organization engaged in preserving and promoting the country’s arts and crafts

while empowering communities. They displayed a mix of traditional and contemporary designs in their collection. Indigo colored and tone-on-tone embroidered pillows, throws, home décor, and accessories were showcased under the Tribal and Suzani collections.  Contemporary designs were featured in the Geometric and Sindhi Collections.

Reve Jewellery, an international award-winner, produces quality handmade Jamaican jewelry and accessories.  Reve displayed an exquisite collection of precious and semi-precious stones, metals and natural materials sourced from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

Artemateria is a women’s initiative that creates and designs Mexican artisanal products. Artemateria decorated their booth with environmentally friendly and functional wares. Unusual colors and innovative designs in baskets and home accessories in contemporary and innovative designs were the highlights.

Prosperity Catalyst lit up their booth with hand painted votive stands and ceramic holders for candles made by hand from women in Haiti and Iraq. The story behind handcrafting each piece carried with it a piece of culture and labor and details of the artist.

African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is an initiative targeting African women entrepreneurs by promoting business growth by increasing trade both regionally and to U.S. markets.  AWEP sponsored four Kenyan organizations; Mohazo presented sculptured creations for homeware and personal accessories. Ranstom Creation displayed furniture with innovative African design. Yetu Leather showcased bags with traditional motifs and Zehu exhibited beautiful bronze jewelry and bags.

ATA Mexico presented a wide array of embroidered cushion covers, hand loomed stoles, hand sewn and embroidered capes, napkins and pom-poms in both vibrant colors and muted tones created with locally sourced raw materials that went into making their latest collection an appropriate fit for the west coast market.

HoonArts Fair Trade LLC, one of only three Fair Trade Federation members working with artisans in Central Asia, displayed suzani hand-embroidered home decor items, hand-woven silk ikat scarves, hand-felted wool on silk wraps, and hand-carved wooden combs, barrettes, toys, and Christmas ornaments. The hand-felted silk scarves and wraps from Kyrgyzstan were the “booth magnets” that resulted in good sales.

“My favorite part was the last day when participants from several different countries talked about their experiences and how they had learned from each other. They were able to identify their target audience and form connections amongst each other and ways they can adapt their business skills in understanding the western market as independent exhibitors” said Carol MacNulty.

“I fondly remember getting a chance to meet such a talented, diverse group of people from all over the world, who share a common appreciation of handmade products and a dedication to help support those who create them” expressed Kanes. “I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to apply the lessons we learned from this first venture and to meet the next group of TEAM participants!” added Laurie Kanes.

TEAM will be back for the forthcoming Las Vegas Market this summer from July 29-August 2nd. ATA will continue

with the expansive job of telling the story of handmade in the Western market as we bolster our mission to empower artisan enterprises around the world.