Stationery Trends

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Stationery Trends Magazine

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See more photos from the 40 Under 40 Reception hosted by Las Vegas Market at stationerytrends.com/photos. I was originally born in Ghana, West Africa, and came to the United States when I was nine. You would think coming abroad so young, I would have limited memories of life in Ghana, but I can honestly say that I have very vivid memories of my youth. One of the most memorable is my mother's fashionable styles and dresses. Her earrings, her dresses, her shoes and purses were always handmade, with matching fabrics. Her fabric of choice was the kente cloth. The kente cloth is one of the most highly valued cloths in West Africa because it's the cloth of royalty, worn by the kings and queens of the Ashanti tribe. Upon first glance, it's a beautiful, bright-colored patterned cloth. But if you look closer, you will see that the kente cloth is handmade of multi-colored threads carefully interwoven to create this rich motif with hues of patterns to create one cloth. No two pieces of kente are the same. It can take weeks to a month to make a few yards of kente but upon completion, you are left with a rich representation of culture and design that is held in high esteem by the people of Ghana and West Africa. This industry, similarly to the kente cloth, upon first glance can seem like an industry of personal and home luxuries, apparel, furnishings and fashion accessories. When passing showrooms, retail stores, sample sales, trunk shows or exhibitor booths, we see hundreds of beautiful things displayed impeccably and merchandised to our heart's desire. Similarly, to the kente cloth upon first glance, we are awed by the beauty, the patterns and the presentation. But, if you look closer, you'll see that there are many more elements to our industry than what meets the eye. Similarly to the various colored threads that are interwoven to make this kente cloth, you will see that our industry is unlike any other, layered with complex offerings that impact lives, daily. Each thread, each block of pattern represents a different part of this industry. For example, one thread represents the small business owner with everything on the line, at market to launch their business idea for the first time. Another represents an established rep group, filled with lines and brands that capture our attention for hours on end. A third thread represents the publications and magazine partners who keep us abreast about the industry. You can see more threads. Each represents our industry friends, the designers, the buyers, the greeters welcoming us to market. When you put together all of these threads, you will see an industry of commerce where buyers and sellers come together to do business. As an industry, we create one patterned cloth, handmade and closely tied. We work collaboratively to impact the present and future of both online and off-line businesses, skillfully pleasing our customers located all over the world. Together, we are one piece of cloth, fit for the kings and queens. This brings me to … this year's recipients. You are all from different parts of the industry, but together you make up one cloth. You are the future of the industry; your cloth is interwoven. Your fabric is more beautiful than ever before and this is why you are honored. Your ideas, your vison, your resilience, your drive, your fortitude, your can-do attitude is the reason you are a 40 Under 40 graduate. Together, we have a strong tradition of providing first-class, white glove experience to our customers. As the industry evolves and grows in this changing economy, you are the 40 that the industry is relying on to steer our direction. Remember that no two pieces of kente are alike but each new style is more beautiful than the last. Continue to be brave by sharing and implementing ideas that break the mold and at times, challenge tradition. We will be looking to you and previous graduates to weave in new threads and patterns that will bring profitability as well as freshness, coolness and mind-blowing innovation to our industry and beyond. S T Esther Ossei-Anto was a 2017 recipient of the 40 Under 40 Awards and is a Senior Marketing Manager for International Market Centers. Ossei-Anto was the guest speaker at the 40 Under 40 ceremony at Las Vegas Market in July. Steering Our Direction Gift + Stationery 40 Under 40 awards recognize those that will lead our industry forward B Y E S T H E R O S S E I - A N TO G U E S T C O L U M N I S T

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