Atlanta Gift Show 2: A Mini Trend Report

“Did you see any new trends?” This is the question that everyone asks after a trade show. Although retailers are deciding which trends are right for their customers in 2012, we, as designers, are working on products that will come out in 2013 and beyond. So, we are watching for inklings of new trends that are on their way in. For example, lately, we have been seeing sea turtles pop up here and there … not that they are necessarily going to be the next owl, but, keep an eye out for the sea turtle … it could be this humble creature’s time in the sun!

So here is my official mini trend report following the Atlanta Gift Show. It is based on the scientific observations made from the aisles that were on the journey between my booth and the really good barbeque stand in the AmericasMart food court.


Robots could be seen on kids products from t-shirts to toys. Some had a 50’s atomic feel, while others were made of repurposed household items. Either way, they were fun and hip. (And, I’m not mentioning this must-have trend just because we happen to have a very cute robot collection of our own … you can see that Gift Shop Magazine noticed it here.)


Although it’s all about a deep ultramarine blue, it has to be matched with lots of white to keep it fresh and crisp. The rich blues are often paired with provençal patterns or woodblock prints. Crisp and cool, it should make you think that you are vacationing on an island in Hawaii with a tall, fruity drink in your hand as you watch the sea turtles float by (see how sea turtles keep showing up … sign of an upcoming trend!)


Handmade is everywhere. It’s pretty, it’s sweet, but mostly you can feel the love of someone creating it just for you. (You can feel the sales, too.) This is cottage industry on steroids.


If one could have gathered all the tweets in Atlanta, they very likely said, Live, Love, Laugh, Dream, and You can Do it! … on gifts, furniture, accessories, journals, cards, jewelry, and more. This trend is perfect for the customer who is inspired by movies like Hoosiers, Something the Lord Made, The Bucket List and, of course, The Notebook … oh, that’s me! So, after this post, I’ll be running off to dream big, just do it, and hug on my babies.



Nautical has been grabbing the spotlight for awhile, and it was still going strong in Atlanta. Sailboats, shells, fish and whales … all things sea, matey. Due to the fact that I was not exposed to a lot of these icons growing up in the desert of West Texas, I had to do a bit of research. I am almost certain that the nautical flags above spell B-U-Y M-E N-O-W. (And, look there, here comes that sea turtle again!


Knock. Knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you gonna include orange in your 2012 retail mix? Because it is the color. Everywhere. And, not just Tangerine Tango, the Pantone Color of the Year, but every orange in the grove. There were so many shades of orange that you couldn’t go wrong with your orange selection: Tangerine, Tangelo, Clementine … go for the Vitamin C–you know it’s good for you.


Pull out your apron and bake yourself a cake. It’s 1956 in 2012! It’s not a super new trend but one with long legs … like comfort food that never goes out of style. We saw lots of retro fun all around, usually in a slightly brighter palette than the original one of the fifties. But hey, we have color television now! It’s I Love Lucy in HD.

So those are seven of the trends that were popping up in the aisles of the Atlanta show. And, there were many other emerging trends I haven’t even touched on … equestrian, bees, whales, geometric, lots o’ color, neutral color, no color … but I’m going to save those for another post, so that I can get to work on my new collection … SeaTurtles Swimming in Orange Crush.

P.S. For those of you who would like to hear some trend reports from people who were able to observe more aisles than the one I traveled when heading to the food court, here are a few. One of my favorite hours at the show, was the one I spent listening to the energetic (and very pretty) Christiane Lemieux of Dwell Studio describing upcoming trends in the juvenile market. She mentioned that Apartment Therapy might be posting her trend reports, so watch for those there. Also, you might check out these Atlanta Trend updates by Gifts & Decorative Accessories here and here. After reading these, you’ll be ready to greet 2012 in the know. So go be trendy in ‘12.


  1. muv January 27, 2012

    Indeed, everything old is new again!

  2. Ellen January 27, 2012

    I love this trend report! Should we name the sea turtle?

  3. sue zipkin January 30, 2012

    Cathy, your post was fabulous! I love the little pictures that go with the report also! It was so much fun to see you all in Atlanta!

  4. Teresa Woo-Murray February 1, 2012

    Hi Cathy!
    Great trend report on Atlanta! Fun reporting and colorful pictures too! I was your neighbor at Surtex last May working in Debra Valencia’s booth. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!


  5. Amy February 5, 2012

    Just discovered your blog via your LinkedIn post.
    Thanks a bunch for this wonderful blip of the Atlanta show.
    I’ve never been, but this description was the perfect quickie!
    Your writing style is such fun… and really grabbed my “Sesame St” attention span!

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