This past winter, we had our biggest show yet at Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York – bigger than even pre-Covid shows in terms of both visitors and exhibiting brands. In the wake of this exciting news, we thought it would be fun to look at the evolution of the Playtime & Kid’s Hub show over the years. Who better to ask about this evolution than two of the amazing women that helped make the show what it is today: the largest kids’ fashion and lifestyle trade show in the United States.
The co-founders of our partner Global Beginnings, Clare Posnack and Louise Connor, would like to take you on a journey through time to explore the evolution of Playtime, Kid’s Hub, and Global Beginnings’ partnership with the shows. You are likely familiar with their smiling faces that have greeted you at The Big Small Show in New York, but in case you aren’t, let them introduce themselves and share how they’ve seen and helped Playtime & Kid’s Hub to grow.
Louise Connor began building her knowledge of the kids’ fashion and lifestyle industry when she opened her own showroom. Created to help small brands, it was really one of the first showrooms to do this and offer small brands opportunities, which it continues to do today. Through her showroom, Louise has gained both knowledge of the industry in general as well as built relationships with buyers around the United States. On the same floor of the New York City building her showroom was in, at the opposite end of the hall, was Clare Posnack’s place of work. Clare started off with her own business, then went on to be a Sales Manager for several different companies. Her experience brought her knowledge of the sales side of the industry, as well as some manufacturing experience.
Around 2008, during a global economic downturn, Louise asked Clare, whom she knew to be a Francophile, if she was interested in attending an event being held by the French Trade Commission in New York City. Clare agreed, and off they went. At the event, they realized that a lot of European brands needed help to successfully bring their lines to the U.S. market. They needed help navigating business relationships, to know the required safety standards, and other guidance that is difficult to find in a non-citizen who has spent years in the industry. Clare and Louise decided to meet this need by creating Global Beginnings, one of the first companies designed to help small brands enter the American market.
They began to consult international brands and were asked to speak at seminars around the world. One of the main challenges for brands entering the U.S. market that Clare and Louise identified was that even if a brand was well-established, well-known, and popular in their home country, entering a new market was like starting over. They decided to help them acknowledge and overcome this challenge, as well as help them understand American culture, how to bring goods into the country, the kids’ fashion and lifestyle market in the U.S., and other information these brands needed to be successful in the United States. Louise had heard about Playtime, so they decided to visit the second edition of the show in New York to introduce themselves. Clare then flew out to Paris to have a meeting with Sebastien, CEO of Playtime, and from then on, a partnership with Global Beginnings was formed.
For the first show that Clare and Louise worked with Playtime, they were engaged for one day to come speak with and offer advice to international brands. At the time, the show had around 40 exhibitors, most of which were international. They fell in love with Playtime as they walked the aisles. From the way it looked to the brands that came to show their new collections, it was a wonderful experience.
— Clare Posnack
After this successful first show, Clare and Louise knew they could do more. Sebastien and his sister, Marie, who was the Art Director of Playtime at the time, loved having the show in raw spaces. They enjoyed having a blank canvas from which to bring their vision to life. A challenge to find in New York City, Clare and Louise offered to help them find spaces for the show. They also offered to tap into their industry contacts to get more buyers and more brands to attend and exhibit to help the show grow.
From this point on, Clare and Louise have been integral in helping Playtime, and later, Kid’s Hub grow. Kid’s Hub was one of the biggest changes that Global Beginnings helped bring to life. Before, a lot American buyers seemed to feel that Playtime was full of international brands with a specific look that wasn’t necessarily what their customers want. When the show closed in response to the global pandemic and the online B2B ordering platform, Orderwizz, took the main stage, Clare, Louise, and the Playtime team took the moment to really assess the brands coming to the show. They decided to start reaching out to brands that previously exhibited with competing trade shows in the United States to see if they’d be interested in coming to Playtime, which is how the Kid’s Hub selection was born. Thanks to the connections Louise had made with brands and reps around the United States, she lead the way in developing Kid’s Hub into what it is today: a large, complementary section of the show.
The defining difference between Playtime and Kid’s Hub is the final customer they are aimed towards. Playtime is a bit more avant-garde, while Kid’s Hub is designed for the broader kid’s market, specifically in North America. Today, about half the brands that exhibit at Playtime & Kid’s Hub are from the United States, and the other half come from around the world.
From Playtime New York’s first shows on Mercer Street, to a former bank across from the New York stock exchange, to a space that got sold three weeks before the show, to today in the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building, there have been a lot of laughs, trials, and changes. Today, Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York is the largest, most important kids’ fashion and lifestyle trade show in the United States. It has grown from 40 brands to over 240, expanding from the first floor of the Metropolitan Pavilion up to the second, fourth, and fifth floors as well as the first and lower level of the adjoining building, The Altman. Along with our online ordering platform, Orderwizz, we connect brands and buyers year round to buy and sell children’s collections.
Clare and Louise have played a key role in the growth of this show, from working with Sebastien to solve small problems to working with the trade commissions to help brands exhibit and sell in the U.S. They have even flown to visit Playtime Paris to speak with brands about exhibiting in New York and answer their questions. It is with this trip down memory lane that we thank Clare for her role in getting Playtime & Kid’s Hub to this status, as the Winter 2023 show was her last working with us. Clare is retiring to explore new places, improve her French and Spanish, and continue sharing her lovely smile and extensive knowledge with other citizens of the world. She will continue to work with Louise at Global Beginnings, but she will be missed by the Playtime & Kid’s Hub team!
— Clare Posnack
Thank you to both Clare and Louise for their years of work, as well as taking us on this journey through the evolution of Playtime & Kid’s Hub New York. This dynamic duo opened the doors for many brands to enter the American market, helping guide them through the process to successfully sell in the United States. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the New York show, and we can’t wait to see you at The Big Small Show in Paris, Shanghai, and New York this summer! Brands, be sure to apply for your booth and be part of the next step in evolution Playtime & Kid’s Hub take!