Retail Band

Inspired Home Show and IHA Rebrand – What makes a vendor successful at the International Home + Housewares Show? – Best Practices, Events & Booth Location – EP17

What you’ll learn:

IHA, the International Housewares Association, just went through a major rebrand and is now called the Inspired Home Show. We talk about all the new programs, features, and resources vendors can take advantage of to stay at the forefront of their industries and get the most out of their show experience.

About our guest:

Leana Salamah is the Vice President of Marketing for the Inspired Home Show (previously, the International Housewares Association Show). She has a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois and a Master’s in integrated marketing and Communications from Roosevelt University.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • Why IHA rebrand to Inspired Home Show and the realities of the marketplace — 3:17
  • How does a Housewares consumer make a purchasing decision? — 4:10
  • Inspired Home Influencer Conference: what is this NEW networking and educational event for vendors and how does it work? — 7:53
  • Top 3 events for vendors to checkout at IHS — 11:31
  • Is there a perfect place to be on the show floor and data on attendee show traffic — 20:24
  • The IHS Marketing Kit and support options for vendors — 23:24
  • What makes a vendor successful at IHS and why understanding the IHS attendees is crucial — 27:49
  • Mark Atkisnson: sourcing missions to Vietnam for vendors and your resource to freight and shipping discounts —31:46
  • CORE meetings: user group for best business practices and lessons — 33:04
  • com – influencer developed products and crafted lifestyle content for vendors—34:08
  • Inspired Homes Editorial Calendar – more lead time to submit product story ideas — 36:04
  • Main takeaway: what to expect from IHS this year — 38:22

Podcast Transcription

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Page One Podcast, a twice weekly podcast featuring a variety of guests and thought leaders on topics ranging from channel strategies to tariffs, influencer marketing, best in class product launches and all the details about how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers or what we call our rCommerce. Now here’s your host, Luke Peters.

Luke Peters: Thanks for joining us on the Page One Podcast. I’m your host, Luke Peters, and this is the podcast where we bring you the best and brightest leaders to share consumer products sales and marketing strategies that will help you grow your business. I’m the CEO and founder of NewAir Appliances, where for the last 17 years I’ve been selling direct to consumer and also B2B through online channels like Home Depot, Wayfair and Amazon and recently have been using influencer marketing along with the B2B sales channels to grow our sales over here.

Luke Peters: What I’ve done in the last year, started a new company called Retail Band and I know a lot of you listeners have heard about that. I talk about at the end of the podcast, but I just wanted to put it in here at the front that if you need help on your sales and marketing on those online channels, maybe you’re strong on Amazon or maybe you’re strong in store but you’re not that strong in Home Depot or Wayfair, we can help you. I am offering a free evaluation of your online sales strategy.

Luke Peters: So please contact me, find me on LinkedIn or you can email me at and I’ll get back to you and create a really cool personalized deck. In this episode, I’m excited to have Leana Salamah from the IHA Show. She is the vice president of marketing and the show has changed so much even with the new name. So we’re going to learn all about the show changes. I know the AHA Show is so important for so many of you guys. For us it’s the most important show of the year and I think it has something like 70,000 attendees. So I’m really excited to have Leana on the show. Welcome to the show.

Leana Salamah: Thanks so much Luke. Thanks for having me.

Luke Peters: Cool. So a little bit about Leana before we get into some questions. She has a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois and a Masters in Integrated Marketing and Communications from Roosevelt University. I guess with that, Leana, you should have the podcast with the communication masters. That would actually be kind of fun to have for IHA. I think you guys should actually think about that.

Leana Salamah: Yeah. I think content is increasingly important to us. I wonder if podcasts might be in our future.

Luke Peters: I think it’d be a like a natural fit honestly. A little bit more about Leana. So after 12 years working in various Chicago advertising agencies, she’s now found her calling in event marketing and has spent six years heading up marketing for the National Restaurant Association annual event, and now for IHA. Obviously, or hopefully you guys have heard this, that IHA has a new name, the Inspired Home show. So with that, Leana, why don’t we get right into that first question, which is why the name change for the show?

Leana Salamah: Yeah, absolutely. We’re really excited about the rebrand from the International Home and Housewares Show to the Inspired Home Show. The onus behind it was really about trying to do a better job of reflecting the realities in today’s marketplace. When we think about back in the early 2000, price was really the determining factor in what housewares were going to be successful and what weren’t. Then we kind of evolved from there, where functionality with better design or aesthetic, became increasingly important.

Leana Salamah: Now kind of moving beyond design aesthetic functionality, we’re seeing lifestyle as being the next step in kind of the evolution of how consumers are shopping for their home. We’re looking to be out in front of it, and to bring the rest of the industry out in front of it with us. At the end of the day, the best design product at the absolute best price, if it doesn’t fit into the lifestyle of the consumer, a sale just won’t be made. These consumers are looking to build a personal brand, a lifestyle, and these home and housewares products have to fit into that lifestyle.

Leana Salamah: This is where influencers come in and I know we’re going to talk a little about them, but they take their cues from these influencers. Influencers can be online personalities or they can even be retail specific. So these folks are showing consumers how to build a lifestyle using home and housewares products and the re-imagined show, the Inspired Home Show is really about helping retailers understand how that design and function fit into those lifestyles and find ways really to inspire lifestyles as they’re selling products to consumers.

Luke Peters: Great. But I guess one of my other questions was how long, I’ve been attending the show for 10 years, how long has the show actually been around? How did it actually start?

Leana Salamah: It’s been around for more than 80 years. The first show was actually in 1938 and for a long time actually until 1992, it actually took place twice a year. A couple of different cycles. There was a January and July pattern. There was an April and November pattern. It wasn’t until 2004 that the show actually went to once a year in March rather than in January. For a long time it was in January even when it went down to one a year.

Luke Peters: That’s funny. That’s probably right when I started attending, it was literally right around 2004. Has it always been IHA and are you worried? I mean, you guys have done a great job rebranding it by the way, like a really, really good job. Because that’s something that we pay attention to obviously with product branding and I’m pretty close to the pulse I think because I know a few people on the board and go to the CORE meetings, which we can talk about. But was there a concern that you’ve had this name that’s resonated with the show, everybody just calls it IHA and now you’re going to a totally different name for the show?

Leana Salamah: I mean certainly there’s a challenge there in marketing communications and we’ve spent a lot of time in the last six months when maybe we would have normally been a little quieter, to try and make as much noise and get as much awareness out as we can about the change. I think the good news for us is that, historically this isn’t the first time the show has changed its name. The association itself actually came about through different mergers and acquisitions of various associations over the years. Really only became the International Housewares Association just in the past 20 or so years.

Leana Salamah: The most recent name of the show, the International Home and Housewares Show, was actually the International Housewares Show until about 10 years ago. So we’ve gone through several iterations. This one is probably a little more drastic, but we’re doing everything we can to get the message out and to make sure that it resonates and to make sure that we’re creating that link between where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

Luke Peters: Okay, cool. Thanks for that. On this podcast, like specifically Leana, what we want to get into is, how attendees and exhibitors can get the most value. I know even I’m curious to learn some of these things from you because I’ve attended it for so long. Last year, I found out that we could work with IHA on quotes and that there’s different partnerships. In fact, even on the trade dispute, there is a gentleman who’s helped us kind of on consulting and thinking about our different product class codes. I know there’s a lot of resources in IHA and that’s what I hope to pull out and making this a really valuable podcast.

Luke Peters: I guess the place to start is that you guys are having a new, like I guess a day before the show, whatever you want to call that pre-day with influencers. Can you kind of talk about that and what’s the opportunity for those attending the show there?

Leana Salamah: Yeah, I would love to talk about that. That’s kind of us kind of been my baby for the past year and a half or so. This is the second year that we will be holding the Inspired Home Influencer Conference. Like you said, it will take place the Friday before the show at McCormick Place. It is a one day networking and educational event. Last year we got about 145 influencers. This year we’re expecting about 300. During that day we actually invite a 100 of our member brands, our exhibiting brands to come down to the conference for a two hour kind of tabletop expo and speed dating session with these influencers.

Leana Salamah: That gives everybody a kind of a chance to get a head start on some conversations, but certainly it’s not enough time to really dive in and develop partnerships and figure out where to go from here. So those influencers that we bring to the conference, the charge to attend the conference includes a media badge for the show. So they are allowed and encouraged to stay the entire duration of the show so that they can walk the show floor, see what’s new, create content, even post content directly from the show floor and meet and interact with different brands and retailers while they’re in Chicago.

Luke Peters: Awesome. So, it sounds like networking. Is there a schedule or can people get a feel for like if they show up, is there like an application process for exhibitors or does the typical badge get you in on that first day? Kind of how does it work for attendees and what does it look for that day as far as the networking goes?

Leana Salamah: For the influencers themselves, there’s an event page set up that they can go to in order to register. They can also get there through our website, which is the For our exhibiting members because we have a limited number of spots, we haven’t opened it up just yet, but any of our exhibiting members who want to reach out to their sales manager here at IHA, can get some more details and get put on the list of folks to be contacted once we open that up.

Luke Peters: Oh, got it. I got you. So it’s a limited amount of brands, but at the same time you kind of creating the pull to get more influencers interested in the show. Then hopefully on day one, two and three of the actual show, they’re going to be walking about and kind of promoting. Is that kind of the strategy that you’re setting up?

Leana Salamah: Exactly. What’s nice is, is that we’re including the influencers in the mix as media participants, which means that the media list, which we make available to all of our exhibitors is available pre-show. So upwards, gets updated on an ongoing basis as media registrations come in and that includes these influencers. So really at any time before the show, our member brands can go in and they can download this list and they can reach out to these folks and invite them to the booth, give them an idea of what they’re about. So they can do some pre-show marketing to make sure that they’re included in these influencers schedule.

Luke Peters: Okay, awesome. That’s helpful and gives me a good picture of what’s happening and that predate. I’m often there and I know a lot of people are there early, so it sounds like if folks are interested in learning more or possibly attending, they can reach out to you or to IHA and then take it from there.

Leana Salamah: Absolutely.

Luke Peters: Thanks Leana. Now the next question is kind of more about what are other things that attendees and exhibitors should be thinking about and in the sense that, been going there a long time, I know where everything is. We’re usually in the Lakeside hall, but I’ll still make my way over to the other hall just see a few companies that I know. But I know there’s more going on at the show and there’s the morning newspaper that pretty much hits everybody’s hotel room. There’s stuff going outside, I’m not sure what you call it, but kind of in the main area where certain products are being featured in the food court area. So there’s so much else going on. The question here is, what are the top three other things that attendees should know about and try to attend when they’re at the show?

Leana Salamah: I think some of the most critical ones especially as we think about, and we hear from attendees, and even exhibitors on why they come to the show. What’s new in the marketplace is so important to everybody and it can be so difficult to walk around 800,000 square feet and identify all of the things that are new to market. So what we do is we set up a number of different display areas. One is in the large Grand Concourse area in the lobby when you first get into the North building. Then there are some set up also in our buyer’s clubs where we actually curate, we speak with our exhibitors, we curate the new products that are out there. The criteria is that in order to be included in these displays, the products must have never been shown at our show before.

Leana Salamah: So they legitimately are brand new and we bring all of those together into display so that people can very quickly identify and digest some of what’s going on out there on the floor. Then certainly those products are identified in a way that allow them to go and explore further. So I feel like those are really kind of the heart of this show, are these places where you can just quickly find out what’s new.

Leana Salamah: The second thing that I would mention is, we have actually three different, what I like to call our incubator areas. This is really about in addition to creating promotion and buyer-seller connections between established brands is how do we develop and nurture kind of a next generation of product developers and designers who are out there? We do this through our incubators and probably the most prominent and exciting one is our inventors corner. Inventors corner used to be located in North Hall. It is now going to be in the Lakeside center lobby so in the East building.

Leana Salamah: What it is, is it’s about 60 inventors who have small stands set up where they’re demonstrating their products. These are products that have not been brought to market yet that they are still kind of, shopping around, whether for feedback, whether for investment. As part of this display, there are ongoing sessions that we call inventors review, which is a little bit like a Shark Tank style presentation series. There’s not necessarily an investment award at the end of it, but these inventors are given the opportunity to stand up in front of retail and manufacturer professionals and get feedback on their product. What works about it, what might they want to rethink, what do they have to improve upon in order to bring it to market.

Leana Salamah: It’s really a great way for these inventors to get feedback that then can bring their product to the next level, and then maybe we see them in a full fledged exhibit the next year or maybe they’re working with a manufacturer at that point. So I feel like that’s really a don’t miss because there’s really some cool things that come out of that.

Luke Peters: Yeah. Sounds great.

Leana Salamah: Then, I think you asked for three so I’ll give the third one. This is something I’m excited about as well. It is our, I suppose you could call it our state of the industry keynote. This is new this year. We’re re-imagining what IHA had traditionally put out as our annual industry report. Rather than focusing on kind of the past year’s datasets and how things are performed, we’re really transforming this report into something that is very consumer trend oriented and forward-looking.

Leana Salamah: So the idea being, what are the major macro consumer trends that are out there, and then what are the implications for each individual product of home and housewares categories, right? So how does a given trend impact kitchen electrics versus gadgets versus storage and organization? We’re putting this report together. We will actually release it at the show as part of our keynote on Sunday morning at 7:30 AM. That’s before the show open, so I would love to see as many manufacturers and retailers as possible join us for an event where we really get to kind of unveil what we at IHA see as being the big consumer trends and implications on home and housewares categories in the next year.

Luke Peters: Where is that keynote going to take place?

Leana Salamah: It’ll take place in the Grand Ballroom, which is room S100 at McCormick Place.

Luke Peters: Great. I know where the halls are, North, South Lake side, where’s the Grand Ballroom kind of in relation to the halls?

Leana Salamah: So it is downstairs. If you come in through gate four, which is where the taxis drop-off or even where the buses drop off, you have to walk past it. Before you start to go up the stairs and up the escalators into kind of the Grand Concourse, it would be over on the right and we’ll have signage and directionals that’ll help get there.

Luke Peters: Oh great. Who’s giving the keynote and how long does it last?

Leana Salamah: So it’s going to be a panel and we haven’t completely flashed it out yet, but certainly we have a commitment from MTD to engage with us in it, and from springboard, which is a consulting group that has recently been formed by Tom Rob Lee and a few people in the industry. It’ll be about an hour long is what we’re expecting. Everyone who comes to the event, will then leave with a copy of the actual report itself.

Luke Peters: That’s great. So to summarize, we’ve got what’s new in the market, the new products, must’ve never been shown. That was kind of your first value add there. That one, I’ve already got a couple of products in my mind by the way. Who do we contact to get products into that showcase?

Leana Salamah: That is Connie Chantos. Her last name is C-H-A-N-T-O-S and I am going to give you a link to our marketing kit, which is actually where you would submit those products. That is the If you go through there through the new product showcase area, it’ll walk you through how to submit those products.

Luke Peters: Okay, great. For the audience, I’ll put that in the show notes because I think this is super valuable. Leana, where is that going to be? I know that the inventors one you mentioned is in Lakeside, I think. What’s new in the market, where are those products going to be showcased?

Leana Salamah: So the individual product showcases will be in the buyer’s club. So there’s one in each hall that is specific to the category or the expo that’s taking place in that hall. So for example, in the North Hall, the new product showcase focuses on the cleaning contain and discover design expos. So you see a lot of high design items and you see a lot of storage and organization, pet care, those types of things. In Lakeside because that’s our wired and well expo, you’d see a lot of kitchen electrics, personal care, home environment types of things. Then in the South Hall buyer’s club, which is in our dine and decor expo, you’ll see everything from tabletop to cook and bakeware to home decor item.

Luke Peters: It’s a great tip. So hopefully everybody listening takes advantage of this one. Then the second item you brought up is great. The inventors corner, I’ll definitely walk that. That’s going to be in Lakeside I think you mentioned, and I think you said about 60 inventors. So it seems like it’s easily walkable and maybe we can get some great ideas from that.

Leana Salamah: Absolutely.

Luke Peters: We already talked about number three, which is the keynote. So thanks for that. Those are three new items that I hadn’t previously known about. So I think that’s great. Moving on to data, everybody, I love numbers and I know every time I get picked up and the taxi driver’s asking me how big the show is going to be, and I think it’s about 70,000 attendees, at least that seems to be the number I remember. It probably fluctuates every year. What are different numbers?

Leana Salamah: It’s about 52,000 right now.

Luke Peters: About 52K. What’s some data you can tell us because I know we’re getting scanned everywhere we go? Is there something that you can let exhibitors know about like, how traffic happens at the show because maybe they could get insights on where they really want to get their booths moved to or what are you able to kind of talk regards to data?

Leana Salamah: In general terms, I think what I would say is that there’s really no perfect place to be on the show floor. Throughout my career in event marketing, a lot of brands, they feel that they need to be in the front of the hall. The front of the hall is great and very high visibility and everything else. But it’s really amazing to me how much time attendees really do spend throughout the entire hall and especially browsing through some of the smaller exhibits that are there.

Leana Salamah: There seems to be kind of inherent knowledge that emerging companies and things you’ve never seen before are likely to have, the 10 by 10 space or the smaller areas. So attendees make a point of getting there. They cover off on the large brands and they make sure to go into the large, interesting boots in the front, but they don’t skimp on the time that they spend in the middle and back of the hall exploring some of those smaller and emerging companies. So I think that’s really important for the marketplace to understand.

Leana Salamah: The other thing I would say is, as we talk to people who are most enthusiastic about the show, and then we look at how they spend their time at the show, what you see is, is you see people who are really consuming all three halls. They’re not saying, “Okay, you know what, I’m only responsible for purchasing tabletop. So I’m going to spend all my time in the South hall and then I’m going to be done with the show. They take the time to go into the other expo, to go into clean and contain, to go into wired and well. Even though it’s not their primary purchasing responsibility, they go in there and they find themselves inspired and intrigued by what’s in there as well.

Leana Salamah: The last thing that I would say is, we do get a number of people who attend the educational sessions. What I’ve noticed is, it’s a lot of our independent retailers who are attending our educational sessions, which makes a lot of sense if you think about the broad need that those independent retailers have. They own a business, they’re trying to market the business, they’re trying to buy for the business. So we get a lot of those folks in our education sessions learning about all the different ways to come to market and be successful.

Luke Peters: Cool. Thanks for that advice and tips and kind of the idea about the flow. I’ve seen that too because like, I mean we’re in a good spot but like a little bit more to the back and a lot of it is just, it’s like pre-show prep.

Leana Salamah: Absolutely.

Luke Peters: Are you talking to the buyers, are you scheduling appointments? In our case, it’s 20 or less key companies that we’re working with and key partners. Of course we want to talk to everybody, but the list is set up like that. I guess it leads into the next question, which is a marketing support. So could you kind of speak to what support is offered at the show? I mean we get an email list I think, that’s what our marketing team is getting a hold of so we can contact the buyers. Can you talk a little bit more about what’s available and what’s being given out and how it’s getting to people?

Leana Salamah: Yeah, absolutely. So we do provide an attendee list to all of our exhibitors. In the last couple of years, we’ve had to forego actually including email in there because of GDPR and some of the other regulations that are coming out. But we still provide the list so that you guys know who’s going to be in attendance. A lot of cases, they may be people you have in your database who you can reach out to and make sure that they come and see you. We also give exhibitors a number of different vehicles by which to invite their own customers. So that they can actually take advantage of the materials that we produce in order to co-brand and send to their list and to convince their customers to come to the show and see them while they’re at the show.

Leana Salamah: Because of course, I mean, part of the show exhibit experience, part of it is about finding new buyers. But part of it, it’s strengthening relationships with existing buyers. So some of it is you want to have that FaceTime with people while they’re onsite. It’s not only looking for those new buyers. So of course those are critical. We have an entire exhibitor marketing kit. I’m delighted to say actually is going in the mail this week, out to all of our exhibiting members, but is currently online and that is

Leana Salamah: That’s how to do just about everything. Some of the things that are included in there, the attendee lists, certainly is an option. There’s a media list which I mentioned and that does include email addresses. We get explicit permission to share those. There’s a number of sponsorship opportunities, ways to kind of get your name out into the environment beyond just in your booth space. There’s some of those new product promotional opportunities. Like we talked about the new product showcase. We have our gia awards program. We have a couple of pre-show previews.

Leana Salamah: One is our new exhibitor preview, which is all of the folks who have never exhibited before come together and do a hour and a half preview before the opening up the first day. As well as a trending today preview where we pick a major trend and we do a little mini expo on it before the show opens. This year that trend is sustainability. So products that are designed with kind of an eye towards economic or I’m sorry, environmental friendliness. Whether it’s in the intent of the product usage, saves waste, replaces something that winds up in a landfill, whether it’s the principles by which the product is developed, environmentally friendly standards or the materials that are used for the product.

Leana Salamah: So all things sustainable will be focused on during this show preview. Then there’s some things including online and digital directory listings. We have our printed online directory and then we have our year round digital directory, which is Housewares Connect 365. The marketing kit walks you through how to make sure that you have your company listing in there, how to make sure you have your booth listing in there and then any product information that you want to provide as these attendees are planning their show.

Luke Peters: Awesome. So I’ll keep an eye out for that. I know I’ve received it in the past. It’s just in the overload of physical mail that comes in. But I think you guys, you do put together like a beautiful exhibitor marketing kit, so that’s cool. Usually I’m handing it off, but now I’ve got a list of all the things in there. You said media, the attendee lists, the sponsorship, and the media lists with contacts, looks like that could be an interesting one. So yeah, definitely, I’ll take a look at that. Cool. Thanks for kind of pointing that out.

Luke Peters: This is another question about case studies. I wonder if you guys have ever tracked companies or have done a case study to find out how they were successful. I know like when we first started exhibiting, I bought some custom chocolates, which I thought was the best idea ever. I mean, it was an all right idea, but at the end of the day you realize that you always want to meet new buyers, but a lot of it is building relationships of just your existing buyers. We’re able to see everybody in Chicago and you kind of learn that quickly and it’s not the type of show where you’re kind of out there and shining bright lights and trying to attract random people into the booth.

Luke Peters: Like you find out quickly that’s not a professional way to run the booth. But I’m just curious if you guys have done case studies on best practices and what successful exhibitors are doing to kind of win at the show?

Leana Salamah: I wouldn’t say that anything is kind of specific as giving away chotskies or offering some kind of discount. Those things happen. I think they certainly attract a degree of traffic. But one of the things we’ve been talking about a lot internally here and with our attendees and with our exhibitors is about really understanding the different types of attendees that we have and making sure that you’re prepared for kind of whoever walks in your booth. I think a lot of exhibitors come to the show expecting the large buyers from Walmart and Target. You’re absolutely going to see those folks, but we also have a huge contingent of independent retailers.

Leana Salamah: Sometimes the person in a booth who’s prepared to talk to a Target or a Walmart isn’t prepared to have a conversation with an independent retailer who’s potentially a smaller volume buy. So we really encourage our exhibitors to understand that if in fact they are available for those types of orders, that they need to have someone on hand in the booth and know who that person is, who’s prepared to meet with and have conversations with those independent buyers. We see the same thing on the international side. So somebody will come in from Germany and they go to the booth and the person in there really isn’t prepared to have a conversation about selling to international purchaser.

Leana Salamah: One company that we did anecdotally receive feedback on was OXO, who did a really nice job of even if the international person wasn’t in their booth, they had a ready-made, they kind of had a file drawer of information by company that could be given out to those people when they came in the booth. So at least they didn’t come in and get kind of stone-walled, have no one to talk to. They at least walked away with some information that they could follow up on when that person was back. I think the last segment to be cognizant of is the media segment. Because again, I can’t tell you how many reporters, editors I speak to who walk into a booth and nobody there really knows who’s allowed to talk to the media, who’s supposed to talk to the media, what the parameters are.

Leana Salamah: That that reporter, that editor probably they walk away and they’re probably not going to come back. So I think one of the best things all of our exhibitors can do is really understand that there are these large segments of attendees and that they need to be prepared to either have conversations with or to redirect to the appropriate person. All of these different groups

Luke Peters: Wow. You kind of made an excellent point there and something I haven’t thought about like in the way that you kind of explained it. So, be prepared to talk to the independent companies, be prepared to talk to international and especially be prepared to talk to media. So, great points is going to make me rethink those three elements, especially media because it’s just a different conversation. I mean independence-

Leana Salamah: It is. It’s a very different conversation.

Luke Peters: Yeah, totally and I can see a lot of companies not being ready for that, especially smaller and mid size companies. So that’s great. I kind of circled that and I’ll make sure we’re ready to go on that. Thanks for sharing and bringing that idea up. Besides the show or after the show, what other services does IHA offer? Kind of talked about a few things earlier. You guys have some really cool offerings like I think that the guy’s name is Mike. I kind of wish I knew his last name, but he helped me a lot kind of thinking over the tariffs and how to strategize around that. Then I know you guys have kind of like a freight option for ocean freight. I personally attend-

Leana Salamah: We sure do.

Luke Peters: I attend the CORE meetings. For any of you guys listening who don’t know what those are, check it out on the website and it’s a great way to meet fellow business owners locally. Anything else you want to speak to?

Leana Salamah: Yeah, absolutely. Just to reiterate kind of what you said, Mark Atkinson is our Vice President International and he is just a wealth of information on all things going on with tariffs, with international trade. He actually is our liaison to the International Housewares Shippers Association, which is that volume discount. As half full containers are going back and forth across the ocean, there’s opportunity to get in on that. He is actually putting together… so one of the things he does as well from an international standpoint and he puts together trade mission.

Leana Salamah: We’ve had had less interest in peer sales trade missions recently. So what he’s done and we’ve kind of flipped the script a little bit on that and he is putting together a sourcing mission to Vietnam. So for those companies who might be interested in exploring some alternative sourcing options, given everything that’s going on with tariffs, there’ll be a couple of groups that he’ll take over to Vietnam and visit with some pre-vetted factories and have conversations about capabilities and parameters and those types of things. So there’s a lot of international resources, whether it’s selling internationally or whether it’s sourcing internationally.

Luke Peters: Wow.

Leana Salamah: You mentioned CORE. That is a great resource and as a followup, so CORE takes place quarterly. It’s a quarterly kind of user group. We told them on a regional basis and folks come together in small groups to talk about industry issues, talk about challenges they’re facing, things that they’ve tried. It’s great to see everybody and really kind of an open, honest environment sharing best practices and sharing wins and losses that they’ve seen. Then once a year, we bring all of those groups together along with really any other member companies that want to engage for our chess event, which takes place in October and is our Chief Housewares Executive Super Session.the day and a half of content and networking, we bring in the folks with some of the big data information. We bring in major retail speakers. We bring in some thought leaders to talk to members about kind of the most important issues of the day.

Leana Salamah: So that’s always really successful and is held here in Rosemont, which is convenient because it’s right near O’Hare Airport so people can get in and out very quickly for that. Then the last member service I’d love to talk about is actually the, which is how the inspired home show got its name. But the is our consumer facing platform. What we do with that, it is a website the, that features influencer developed product forward lifestyle content. What does that mean? That means that we have a network of influencers who we work with. We provide them with member products, we source products directly from our members, provide the products to these influencers and they develop content around them.

Leana Salamah: Whether that’s recipes, whether that’s entertaining tips, whether that’s cleaning and organization articles. They develop these stories for us. Then we post them on our website and everything is completely shopable. So any product that is featured in one of these articles, there is a call out of the product along with the link of where to buy. That link is dictated by the member company that has provided the product. The site actually enjoys about 500,000 sessions a month. So we had a really fantastic audience of people who are consuming this content and being exposed to all of our member products.

Luke Peters: Wow, that’s surprising. I think we’ve looked into that. I think maybe it was something different where you guys are making a physical magazine that was going out I think on the new stands. Was that a different project and there was an opportunity for some brands to work with influencers to get inside that magazine?

Leana Salamah: Yeah, it was an offshoot. We did three issues at the inspired home journal and it was just an absolutely beautiful publication and really well loved by everybody who consumed it. But ultimately what we found was that we were getting more bang for our buck on the online platform than we were in a print platform. So we sunsetted the magazine in favor of refocusing our efforts online. What’s really great is that one of the things that’s allowed the team to do is be much more forward looking in our editorial calendar development.

Leana Salamah: So whereas before we might have a sense of stories we were going to write in the next month or two. Now our editorial calendar has topics on there that we’re planning to write about in Q1 of next year, which means that for our member companies, there’s much more lead time to submit products for consideration for those stories. So if you go to, you can locate the Inspired Homes editorial calendar and right there through an online form can submit product ideas that might be included in those story ideas that’ll be coming up.

Luke Peters: Great. So submit those through The other thing is just listen, Mark is like, he’s such a helpful guy. So to know that he’s doing a sourcing mission actually sounds kind of fun to Vietnam, definitely going to look into that. We’ve already looked there. It’s tough. Anything that isn’t electronics related is always just tougher to work with the supply chain.

Leana Salamah: Of course.

Luke Peters: But I know everybody’s like all over the world looking for options. So this is pretty cool that that’s an opportunity. Then just as Leana mentioned, there’s CHESS, there’s CORE, so just kind of rewind that section, everybody listening, make sure you guys at least know all of these opportunities and all the things that you could take advantage of, we found a lot of value in. Especially in CORE, just because you get to meet people local. In my area, we’re in Orange County, we’re like 30 miles South of LA, so you get to meet businesses all the way from kind of like the whole LA metropolitan area up into the Valley.

Luke Peters: Since everybody’s close enough, you can get together after the meetings. So it’s a great networking and a great learning opportunity. Cool. Thanks for that. I think I got a page and a half of my own notes here by the way. So some cool things that are actionable that I can get the team working on and we can kind of prepare for the show. So, thanks for all the tips. Is there anything kind of just before I let folks, if you wanted to give a a way to contact you, but before we do that, is there anything else you wanted to kind of share about the show or any actionable tip that you want to leave listeners with?

Leana Salamah: I mean, I think that probably above all, I just want to make sure that it’s crystal clear to everybody that every year there’s brand new things to see at the show. A lot of times you walk into a show and a lot of booths seem like they’re in the same place and you see some of the same things. But every year we make a concerted effort to make sure that there is brand new and that we’re highlighting it, and that we’re creating opportunities for everybody to advance their business. So looking forward to seeing everybody this year and by all means I am more than happy to take inquiries.

Leana Salamah: My email address is lsalamah, so it’s S-A-L-A-M-A-H I will take any email that comes in and I will either respond to it if I can or I will get it to somebody who can do a better job than me.

Luke Peters: Awesome. Well, thanks for that and we’ll have your email in the show notes and just want to thank you Leana for being a guest and sharing all these insights. I really enjoyed speaking with you about these things.

Leana Salamah: Likewise, I really appreciate the time and the opportunity Luke.

Luke Peters: Awesome. I just want to thank everybody for listening to the Page One Podcast. Again, if you guys have a business where maybe you’re really strong in Amazon, or you’re strong in store, but you need help selling through say Wayfair or or, or you need help with influencer marketing, go ahead and contact me. Like I said at the beginning of the podcast, you can find me at I can provide a free evaluation of your business and you can make the choice if there’s an opportunity for you to grow your business in these other channels. Thanks everybody for listening to the podcast and we will see you next time.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Page One Podcast with Luke Peters. If you like our show and want to know more, check out our other segments. Also, please help us out by leaving us a rating on iTunes. Want to learn more about rCommerce, check out to get more great tips and tricks on how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers.

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