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ART Conference builds on theme of ‘Innovation'

Roy SpenceRoy Spence
The Annual Accessories Resource Team conference was held last month in Miami at The Palms Hotel. With an overall theme of Innovation - Taking Your Business From Great to Exceptional - attendees were treated to sessions on trend, interior design, Gen Y, strategic partnerships and more over the course of the three-day event.
     Speakers included Roy Spence, the chairman and CEO of GSD&M Idea City, a marketing and advertising company whose work includes the "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign, as well as long-term work with Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Chili's and AT&T.
     His presentation, titled "Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose," was highlighted by video clips from his extensive portfolio of ads, with a focus on helping organizations identify, simplify and articulate their purpose - "the fundamental difference they are trying to make in the world and their reason for being beyond making money."
Ira Blumenthal, president of consulting firm Co-Opportunities, preached the importance of embracing change to help businesses stay relevant in this quickly changing world.
     He suggested creating strategic partnerships and using creative thinking to boost sales and reinvent businesses. For example, he said, when McDonalds starting to carry combo meals, sales of soft drinks went up 27% and fries went up 17%, simply by packaging them into one unit with a sandwich.
     He encouraged the audience to "embrace the ‘re' words: redefine, re-engineer, re-evaluate, reposition, rebrand, rethink, re-engage, revise, reconsider and re-invigorate."
     Noted interior designer Alexa Hampton gave a presentation about her own design inspirations and discussed her work and her efforts at "demystifying design."
     "A lot of people look at design like it's a foreign language - it freaks them out," she said. "I think language is an apt metaphor for design - because it seems very mysterious ... but I think it can be learnable, like a language. Maybe you can speak it brokenly, and you may not be a poet in that language, but it can be broken down and learned."
     Hampton uses the language and sentence- structure metaphor to break down the components of design. Contrast, she said, is like the verb. "It keeps things moving." Color "is like an adjective. It's the descriptive part of the sentence. Color is really the means by which one can evoke emotion and a response." Proportion, she said, is the most fixed, and the least subjective - "the real nuts and bolts of a room. Balance is the most mysterious. It's the summation of the sentence. It's the predicate ... it's the meaning."

Ira BlumenthalIra BlumenthalAlexa HamptonAlexa HamptonJason DorseyJason Dorsey

     Jason Dorsey, a Gen Y expert and Gen Y'er himself, as well as author of Y-Size Your Business, said that by 2017 Gen Y is predicted to outspend baby boomers. Gen Y brings more value than any other generations, he said, because they are confident spenders who will be around for the long term.
     He said parenting trends have helped create the culture of this generation, and as most Gen Y'ers have baby boomer parents, "every Gen Y believes they are unique - special," he said. "Gen Y feels entitled because of their parents."
     He also said that Gen Y is not actually tech-savvy, but they are tech-dependent. "We don't know how tech works, but we know we can't live witho

Peter Schauben and DianaPeter Schauben and Diana Blackburn, Appelman Schauben; Joe McKearn, Flambeau Lighting; Kellee Hammond, The Littman Group, and Susan Andrulis, Imax.
ut it," he said, noting that Gen Y'ers do tend to lack face-to-face communication skills, but are still good at communicating because they respond very quickly to digital communications. By understanding how to reach them, businesses can do more business with these important consumers, Dorsey said.
     While Dorsey stressed that generations are not a box that people always fit neatly inside, but they do provide very powerful clues about where to start when dealing with people of any ages.
     Other speakers at the event included Mike Debnar, formerly of 7-Eleven, whose presentation was on the subject of "Unlocking ‘Intrepreneur' Innovation Within Your Company," as well as Gretchen Aubuchon of Fashion + Décor, in a presentation designed to help bridge the style gap between apparel and home fashion.
     Melissa Haberstroh, owner of Boerne, Texas-based The Burlap Horse; and Shanna Shamblin of The Shamblin Group led hands-on workshops for the conference attendees.
     The conference kicked off with a presentation by Dwell With Dignity cofounders Lisa Robinson and Kim Turner. Their organization, which works to furnish and decorate homes for disadvantaged families, was the recipient of a $5,000 donation from ART this year.

Max Frazier, Repzio; Susan Andrulis, Imax; Jan and Rex Yoakley, Imax.Max Frazier, Repzio; Susan Andrulis, Imax; Jan and Rex Yoakley, Imax.Melissa Haberstroh, Burlap Horse; David Rive, Beatriz BallMelissa Haberstroh, Burlap Horse; David Rive, Beatriz BallJames Hammond, Littman Group Guest, and Faye Young, China Access.James Hammond, Littman Group Guest, and Faye Young, China Access.
Andrea Sinkin and Michael Fisher, Fashion Snoops; Mindy Lowack, Dallas Market Center.Andrea Sinkin and Michael Fisher, Fashion Snoops; Mindy Lowack, Dallas Market Center.Lisa Kahn, Kahn Design Group; Frankie Daniel and Quinn Thanarajakool, Leftbank Art.Lisa Kahn, Kahn Design Group; Frankie Daniel and Quinn Thanarajakool, Leftbank Art.Lauren Miller, Codarus, and Nazeli Moushegyan, Moss Studio.Lauren Miller, Codarus, and Nazeli Moushegyan, Moss Studio.
Mindy Lowack, Dallas Market Center, and Mark Furlet, Americasmart.Mindy Lowack, Dallas Market Center, and Mark Furlet, Americasmart.Beatriz Ball and David Rive, Beatriz Ball, and Faye Young, China Access.Beatriz Ball and David Rive, Beatriz Ball, and Faye Young, China Access.Karyl Asch and Sondra Wildman, Style Connection Two.Karyl Asch and Sondra Wildman, Style Connection Two.

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