In Conversation with Makers KROFT and Coolican & Company on the IDS Experience

The Maker section of IDS is a launchpad for designers to showcase their burgeoning business to the design community, public and media. We spoke with two former Makers, KROFT and Coolican & Company on how participating in the section propelled their business forward.

1) How did you feel going into your first IDS?

KROFT: Nervous! As a designer you want people to be engaged by your exhibit. We were using IDS as a launchpad for our new company so we spent a lot of time designing and planning for our first booth because we wanted it to be well received and the pressure was on.

2) How did you feel coming out of the show?

KROFT: I felt amazing coming out of the show. I realized after it was all said and done that the perks of being a part of an exhibition like IDS are more than just making sales. We left the show with great new relationships with industry partners.

3) What did you learn throughout your experience?

KROFT: As a designer/maker, there aren’t a ton of opportunities to have meaningful conversations with that large a volume of potential customers. So the feedback is excellent.

Coolican & Company: While you can expect some immediate results right after the show like media coverage and direct sales, we also learned that the results would trickle in over many months and even years after doing the show. Contacts that we made at our very first show are still reaching out to us for the very first time today.

4) What are you working on now?

KROFT: Since our last IDS, we have built on our Stir Series  (above right) collection and are introducing a line of modern household objects and accessories like our HNGR (above left) system.

Coolican & Company: Today we continue to focus on seating (above centre), but we are branching out slowly to incorporate other products. Currently we are excited about a table we are working on. People have been asking for a table for a long time and it’s almost there.

5) What advice would you give to first-time IDSers?

Coolican & Company: Don’t stress, and be prepared and to have fun. Reach out to people before the show and invite them to come to your booth. Tell your story to the media, designers and the public. Beyond the aesthetics of your work, people are also interested in the human story behind it. I’d also recommend following up after the show  thanking those who took an interest in your work and took the time to stop by. Don’t forget to collect people’s information and to even jot down personal details about them so you remember who you talked to. You’ll talk to hundreds of people over the course of the show and it can be challenging to keep track.

6) What media exposure or opportunities came your way as a result of participating?

KROFT: The PR from participating in IDS is amazing. Because of participating in IDS, we’ve been covered everywhere from the Globe and Mail to Design Milk.

7) What does the future hold for you?

KROFT: We want to continue designing furniture and objects that people connect with.

Coolican & Comapny: We’ll continue to grow and reach out to a wider audience. Our product line will continue to expand, and when we have new products to show, IDS will be our first stop.

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