Googoo&gaga at Kleine Fabriek

Right after getting back from Iceland, I dived straight into my job as a booth manager for googoo&gaga at Kleine Fabriek, a children’s trade fair at the Amsterdam RAI. I was completely exhausted, and I really don’t know how I found the energy to do all of this so soon after an active trip.

It’s a good thing the world of children’s fashion is colorful and whimsical. It made the surroundings so much more energizing and inspiring!

There were hundreds of exhibitors that weekend, divided into four sections: Object+ (home and gift items), Star (distinctive and high-end fashion brands), Industry (big, established fashion brands) and Blueprint (denim). It says a lot about how the Dutch dress their kids that there was an entire section dedicated to denim; kids’ style here is definitely very casual, rough-and-tumble and practical.

I didn’t get to browse much because I was busy working—trying to hook visitors into the booth with our 30-second “elevator pitch”, fielding questions from buyers, press, and fellow exhibitors—but you can just imagine how much color and creativity was buzzing in this huge hall that weekend. And this is only half of it!

Our booth was in the Star section was pretty simple, which I think was a good way to go about it. It allowed Googoo&gaga’s designs to really stand out… which they did! We had a lot of awesome feedback on the design aspect of the brand. We even had designers asking if they could buy adult versions of the shirts, which was pretty cool.

Still, sales isn’t an endless string of praise. Willem-Jan and I also had to listen to unsolicited opinions from buyers on everything from the pricing to the fabric (“Oh, we only stock 100% fair trade organic cotton”) to the finish of the special printing technique (“It looks like you washed it wrong”)… and deal with questions like “Was this made with child labor?” (Right, because all businesses in Southeast Asia work like that.)

It’s a good thing Angelique, Googoo&gaga’s partner in Europe, had prepared us for that. “Rejection is part and parcel of the selling game,” she wrote in her final brief before the show. “I never take ‘no’ personally and remember that doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever.” So true. In life and on the sales floor, you can’t please everyone… and I find the older I get, the less pleasing everyone matters to me.

Exhaustion aside, I had lots of fun and I would definitely do it again. If you want to see more of Kleine Fabriek, check out this video that they produced showing off the entire weekend. See if you can spot Team Googoo&gaga (my nails and Willem-Jan’s hair!) at 00:59.

kleine fabriek #15 from modefabriek on Vimeo.

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Countdown to Kleine Fabriek

A few months ago, I signed on as one of two booth managers representing the Philippines’ own googooandgaga at a trade fair called Kleine Fabriek in Amsterdam. (Read more about this art-driven children’s wear brand, and how I got involved here.) That means when I get back from Iceland, I’ll need to hit the ground running… because the day after I get back is the weekend of Kleine Fabriek!

Googooandgaga Kleine Fabriek invitation

I love receiving packages in the mail, don’t you? In the runup to Kleine Fabriek, I’ve been receiving them nonstop over the last few weeks. Angelique, googooandgaga’s brand partner in Europe, has thought of everything. From her, I received my half of a trade show kit that includes business cards, catalogs, invitations, double-sided tape, sample sizes, even a cute little dish for collecting business cards, and more.

Angelique's trade show kit

From Audrey in Manila, I  received samples of googooandgaga’s latest collection for boys…

Googooandgaga new collection for boys

… and for girls. Cue the baby pangs!

Googooandgaga new collection for girls

I also met up with Willem-Jan, my co-manager, which was a lot of fun. It turns out he lived in the Philippines for six months… and LOVED it! He stayed in Mandaluyong, near Jose Rizal University, which is as local as you can get—far from where most expats would dare to live and just minutes where my family used to live, in fact. Willem-Jan’s stories about being the strange white six-footer taking the jeepney and boxing at the Elorde gym on Shaw Boulevard cracked me up, and  his evident enthusiasm and fondness for the Philippines warmed this Manila girl’s heart.

The ability to attract such enthusiasm, whether for art, children’s clothes, or the Philippines itself, speaks volumes about the kind of business googooandgaga is. I think it’s a reflection of the passion AJ and Audrey put into their product and brand—love and madness, as they would say.

I’m so excited for Kleine Fabriek, and proud that I get to be part of bringing an awesome Pinoy brand there!

P.S. How do you like the Instagram-ish feel of these pics? I’m trying out Rollip, a website that lets you apply vintage filters and effects to photos, no iPhone or Instagram required. Check it out and let me know if you like it.

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Googoo&gaga in Holland

Marlon and I went through a Discovery Weekend for couples a few months before we got married. One of the couples we met (briefly) that weekend was graphic designer AJ Dimarucot and his then-bride-to-be, Audrey David. I was a (low-profile) fan of AJ and wanted to commission one of his lightboxes, but I got too busy with the wedding and moving to Singapore to push through with an order.
When Audrey and AJ started their clothing brand googoo&gaga in 2008, I became an instant fan. I fell in love with their super cute art-driven onesies, proudly designed and made in the Philippines, and wished I could stock up on all of their designs for my future baby. I knew that was a little absurd since babies were not on our conjugal agenda then, so I racked my brain for weeks to find a pregnant or new mommy friend to gift with a googoo&gaga onesie.

On a visit home in December 2008, I met up with Audrey for a quick catch-up and to buy onesies for our managing director in London and the wife of a close family friend in Greece (yes, I was really stretching). Since then, awesome things have happened to this awesome pair, including a launch in France at the Playtime Paris trade show last year. I’ve followed their success online, and I’m still a fan. 
A few months ago, Audrey asked me on Facebook if I was going to be busy in July. She told me that googoo&gaga was going to participate in Kleine Fabriek (Little Factory), an international trade fair for children’s fashion, shoes and accessories, in Amsterdam this summer and that they needed a booth manager. Would I be interested?
I would have liked to say that I immediately shouted HELL YES! In reality, I was set to drive to Belgium that weekend for a summer music festival featuring my favorite flamenco-metal duo, Rodrigo y Gabriela. But after a few days, I made the decision to put my festival tickets up for sale online. Then I said HELL, YES. So I am now officially one of googoo&gaga’s two booth managers for Kleine Fabriek in July. Yay!
Last week, I got a package in the mail from Angelique Villaraza-Dominici, googoo&gaga’s partner in France. I loooove getting packages in the mail!

Inside was a colorful printed canvas tote from SM Kultura and a sweet handwritten note from Angelique.

And inside that, was something I’ve always wanted…

… my very own stash of googoo&gaga onesies!!!

Angelique sent me samples from googoo&gaga’s very first collection, which she had previously owned. Speaking as a booth manager, I’m perfectly happy to use these for promoting the brand here and give them away to press or buyers as needed.

But… I’m also hoping I get to keep them for myself! #selfish

You can see why. Quirky, colorful, and more than just a little rock n’ roll, googoo&gaga onesies are also incredibly soft thanks to a special printing technique called sublimation.

Looking at them totally gives me baby pangs. Future little Marlon/little Deepa would totally rock these. (I kind of wish the future would hurry up already.) 
But it also makes me really excited for Kleine Fabriek in July. It will be my first time working at an international trade show—not to mention for a brand of which I am a huge fan. Thank you for the opportunity, Angelique and Audrey! Can’t wait. 
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