This was written by Barry Klein (BK) along with his mother Myrna Klein (MK). The two have been a part of TNNA since before there was a TNNA. Myrna was on the Board of Directors for TNNA in the 1980’s and Barry was on the Board in the late 1990’s and is currently serving on the Board again. The two have been a part of Needlepoint Group and Yarn Group and one or both of them have attended every TNNA show starting as retailers and then as wholesalers. Myrna has since retired and Barry continues to run the family business, The Trendsetter Group, celebrating it’s 28th anniversary in November 2015.
Question 1: What was TNNA like when you started and in what segment of the industry did you start?
When I started, there wasn’t a TNNA. It was in the early 1970’s and there was simple a group of companies both yarn and needlepoint that got together and did hotel room shows in New York and then in San Francisco. At the time, I had a needlepoint store and worked with some of the companies that are in business today: Dede, Fleur De Paris, etc.
When Myrna started going to shows, I was in my early teens. I’d been working in her store twisting Persian into small hanks and wanting to learn how to needlepoint. I went with Myrna to her first show in San Francisco and I met Elsa Williams. I was introduced to her and she had me sit with her and she taught me how to needlepoint on one of her kits in the half cross stitch. It was the beginning of my love of needlepoint and I went home and learned more and started teaching classes in our store.
Question 2: How did you feel when TNNA was established?
I thought it was fantastic to have a group that would come together and show me even more than I could imagine. I had a fantastic group of sales agents that came to my shop. I certainly saw a lot but I never got to meet the people who did the designing. Being an “in charge” kind of owner, I wanted certain things done certain ways and thought going to the show would be my chance to see something new, something different and to see things my competitors might never see. When I saw my first show, I knew I was right.
I was in school and couldn’t go to all of the shows with Myrna. I was lucky enough to go to a few shows. For me, the best part was meeting the kids of other store owners that Myrna had become friends with. Many of the wholesalers and designers became fast friends with Myrna and when she knew she was taking me, they would bring their kids as well and we would go and play and talk about our moms while they did all of the buying and selling. I am still great friends with many of the same people that I met through TNNA. Indeed, TNNA has turned out to be family.
Question 3: If you had to tell someone why to be a part of TNNA, what would you tell them?
In order to make your shops a success you need to attend the show. It does cost money but what better way to invest in your business than to keep ahead of the curve by seeing new products and meeting the new people in the industry. Meeting other shop owners makes you aware that everyone involved in the industry has experienced the same successes and failures and the same happiness. You also learn that you’re not alone. In the 14 years I had my store prior to becoming a wholesaler, I attended at least 2 shows in order to have new products throughout the year.
I wish that words could describe TNNA. TNNA is a visual. To see it is to love it and appreciate it. It is the Chocolate Factory of needlearts with creative ideas, creative people, flourishing concepts and new people who always bring a new look and flavor to the world. TNNA also brings you back together with people who can appreciate the pleasure and the pain of being a part of the needlearts industry. It’s not all fame and glory and if you are lucky enough to have your moment, it doesn’t last. But, when you are surrounded by people who understand you, your creativity and your need to express yourself through the needlearts, it brings you back to a calm reality and helps you continue to move forward with friends and not alone.
Question 4: What is/was your favorite part of being involved with TNNA?
I loved being a part of the vision of TNNA. I was involved with TNNA from both wholesale and retail and was always working with the Association to see that the needs of the members were met. The original manager of TNNA, Mary Colucci, was fantastic and she worked tirelessly at bringing the sides of the Association together. The same issues that were discussed 40+ years ago I know are still discussed. It still feels like us vs. them but it really isn’t. I have always been someone to set goals and I did that with TNNA and through TNNA and I’m lucky enough to have met my own personal goal which was to help create a company that I could pass on to Barry so our vision could continue. TNNA makes things possible that couldn’t happen without the guidance and joining of the group.
I’m much like Myrna in that I love being a part of the group. I’m truly a child of TNNA having set up hundreds and hundreds of shows and having worked with the Board in almost every faction on and off for many, many years. When asked what truly makes me happy about TNNA, it is that it satisfies my ego. To see people come together and see how they react to the beauty of an event, the excitement of Sample It and the Fashion Show. So many new events that new voices bring to the show come because of what was done before. To hear the noise that comes and goes throughout the day and throughout the years means that we’ve done our job. I know when my time comes to retire and leave the industry, I will have left my stamp on TNNA and it will have left it’s imprint on me as well.
Question 5: If you could change one thing about TNNA, what would it be and why?
I would create a method that benefits everyone who attends the show. I’m someone who believes that you are lucky to have the ability to vote in our country. We should be required to vote. I feel the same about TNNA. We should be required to come to the show and the benefits should be clear and strong.
I would love to see people truly appreciate TNNA. I hate that people who are paying to exhibit act like it’s a prison sentence. There is supposed to be a positive vibe. What you express on your face and body comes across. We are privileged to have the ability to be a part of TNNA and to be able to express our talents. Express your pleasure along with that. We are one industry. We all have good years and bad years. If you simply go with the belief that you get out what you put in then you’ll truly work hard to make the Association strong. It’s easy to blame when you don’t help. If the same effort was put in a better direction we would be at the top of the mountain. After our last Board Meeting I was blown away by the talents on the Board. This group rocks. I can’t wait to see what the future looks like. My advice...hold on tight and come along for the ride.....you don’t want to be left behind.
Question 6: If you could make a wish for TNNA, what would it be?
I wish everyone the same love of Needlearts that I have. After almost 50 years, I’m still enjoying my days by needlepointing.
I’d wish for another moment of pure bliss. I’d wish for a time when we realize that we are friends and that competition is good and the can thrive together. United we stand....divided we fall.
On behalf of both Myrna and I, we are so thankful to be a part of the TNNA history.
Myrna Klein & Barry Klein