Thursday, October 6, 2011

ASG Conference Adventures 2011



In August, Tricia and I loaded up the car with all our vendor materials, products, and gear to travel the 2 days it takes to get to Los Angeles for the American Sewing Guild Conference, which was August 18-21. In planning the trip, I had family we could stay with, along the way and also 20 miles from downtown LA. We debated about taking a GPS with us, but decided against it. We had cell phones, Google maps printed, and family to advise us. Tricia warned me that she 1)didn't drive fast 2)needed to stop frequently and 3)had to eat meals with regularity. With 4 days of travel and 4 days of conference, it meant a lot of together time...Tricia and I thought: the two of us would either hate each other or become great friends after it's all done!

The first day was fantastic, stopping along the way to stretch, eat, and share in the driving. The California border patrol let me keep my tangerines. He'd been at his job for a long time, and could tell that mine were Californian. I was bringing them back home and tomorrow's lunch was spared.

We got into our first destination fairly late, but my brother and his wife were ready with a wonderful salad and pasta dinner. Our main question was about traffic. He suggested that tomorrow traffic would be light at 9-10am, but in the LA area, he said that he'd never known a good time to travel. The next day, and for every day after, we found that no truer words had been spoken.

Sadly, with both Google AND Mapquest maps AND cell phones, we were still not sufficiently prepared for the traffic and tangle of roads that lay ahead of us (though if you have to choose one, pick Google!). Because traffic was at a crawl coming in, we decided at the last minute to take a detour into downtown to find out how to get to our conference hotel, the Westin Bonaventure. We eventually got there, but for the next several days couldn't seem to find our way to the hotel the same way twice.

Tricia became the Official Driver in LA, and did a very fine job of it. I remained in the "navigator" seat because there was always something I had to do/prepare for on the way to the conference. She did all the errands too. She'd get to the booth and say "I took risks with your car today!" That's good to know.

Many times she had to find the parking garage on her own also. It helps to take scrupulous notes: elevator 1, level 4, row E. After one long day, I thought I couldn't walk one more step. We got to the space where our car should be, but it wasn't there. In LA, a stolen car is not an unlikely event, but I was too tired to care. I sat down on the curb while Tricia and the parking attendant raced madly up and down, back and forth trying to find the car. Then in my slumber the thought came to me - use the lock button on the fob! The car made a faint beep. Hey, everyone! Listen! Beep again. We followed the sound up-up-up until at last we found it! There is was, level 4, row E. How can that be? It appears that level 4 is more than one level and row E is more than just one row! Well why didn't I think of that!

With Tricia at the wheel every day, she was quickly reverting back to the driving skills she'd acquired while living in Florida, dodging cars and quick lane changes. What was happening to the girl who didn't drive fast?? She proved equal to the task. She soon knew her way around well enough to ask Google for alternate routes to our destination because one day we almost didn't make it to the show on time. 2 hours to drive 20 miles? I wondered, wouldn't that be the same speed as taking a horse and buggy?

Leaving the conference was equally adventurous. Getting onto the freeway was tedious, but most especially on Friday night. It looked like the whole world was lined up in 4 lanes for miles on end to get to Hollywood. What could be so exciting in Hollywood that people would be willing to drive 5 mph on the freeway to get there?? Thankfully, we were headed away from Hollywood and managed to make a quick exit. That was the first time we made good speed along I-5. I think all the cars that would have been crowding us were now desperately heading for Hollywood!

The conference was a lot of fun for us. The first night everyone is anxious to find new products and see who the new vendors are. There was quite a ruckus at our booth. There were comments like "Why haven't I seen you before?" "Will you be at Puyallup?" "I've read about you in ....magazine!" "Will you come talk to our ASG group?" "Your patterns should be in.....store." "That looks like something from I love Lucy!" in talking about the Phantom pattern. It was the number one best selling pattern.

I made a few friends and professional connection too. I put my dress, Epiphany, in the fashion show, which I myself could not wear. ASG producers asked a wonderful woman, Claire Kopp to model for me. We met later the next day and I found out that she is a developmental psychologist (phd) who just recently decided to take up sewing again after many years without it. I talked with Tami Bayer of the "Fisk-a-teers," a sewing group sponsored by Fiskars, the Scissor manufacturer. They've invited me to do a podcast in Jan or Feb of next year. I met Anne St. Clair, (that's my maiden name and we wondered a moment if we could be related?) the owner of Needle Nook Fabrics in Wichita, KS, who will now be using my Learn to Sew pattern series to teach sewing. We made good friends with Gene Barker, our "next door" vendor neighbor. He was fascinating to talk to, having an interest in and experience with historic clothing, theater, and sewing. He had set up a static display to share his antique corset and girdle collection with all of us. Unlike at the museum, we could touch!

After the conference, we spent one last day at the Huntington Museum. There we could enjoy the "Blue Boy" and "Pinkie" in full size, and contemplate our exit from that maze of hustle and bustle. We decided to make the ultimate sacrifice: sleep. We would get up at 4am and be in the car by 5. You know what we discovered? Not only were Tricia and I the best of friends (we shared many a good laugh over all this adventure!), this IS the best time to travel through LA!

Do you know of an event that you'd like to see us attend? Please send us a message!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Laura, your booth was such a treat at the LA conference and you are such a delight to meet!! Your pattern "The Phantom" is sitting in my sewing room just waiting for me to find the right fabric. Since the conference I have explored your website and find your talent amazing. I really love retro styles and find your approach to modesty exactly what I have been looking for in clothing design. I hope you will make it to Puyallup next year - believe me, the traffic is not nearly as bad as LA!!!