In my previous career, I used to envy people who got to travel for work. The only “travel” I was ever afforded was to check out another high school’s art department (ten miles away) to compare notes with another art teacher. In my current job I have to travel just the right amount: about 3-4 times a year. Two of the largest events that I travel for occur every March and September (Natural Products Expo West and East). One of the benefits of traveling east in September is that the expo is always held in Baltimore, so I get to tack on a few extra days to visit my family.
Expo West was earlier this month and held at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is right across the street from Disneyland. This event is the largest natural foods expo that we attend (and might be the largest in the world for all I know!) and we spend months preparing for it. Thousands of natural foods, supplements, personal care, cleaning, etc. -based brands set up booths for buyers, media, brokers (and other people in the industry) to visit. Last year was my first Natural Products Expo and I had no idea what to expect. It’s basically four days of insanity (1 day setting up the booth, 3 days running it).
I started working for FlapJacked about a week before Expo West last year, and really had no idea what I was doing and how to talk with brokers and buyers. This time, with a year of experience and two Natural Products Expos under my belt, I felt much more prepared and confident. My bosses were a lot more confident and less-stressed too, and (along with help from some of our awesome ambassadors) made a great team!
One cool thing about Expo West and East is that I always run into a few friends. I’ve gotten to know a number of people in the natural foods industry, who I usually only see at these types of shows. It’s kind of like camp- we see each other once or twice a year and it’s like no time has passed. I also usually run into a few blogger friends, like my friend Ashley who stopped by to say hello over the weekend.