So, as some of you may know, I attended an event in NYC called KawaiiLand.
How did I end up there? Shortly after I attended AnimeNEXT 2014 as an exhibitor in Artist Alley, I received an email from one of the organizers from said event. I thought it was pretty cool that someone invited me instead of me having to beg for a vendor space. I figured since my small business was getting… less small, it’s natural that people would start contacting me instead of vice versa. However, looking back, it seems they contacted a lot of artists who regularly exhibit at conventions.
Anyway, I got more info about the event. It was to last from 6pm to 11pm and the tables were $300. You read that right. $300 for 5 hours. Do the math: that’s $60 per hour to rent a space there. Keep that number in your memory, for it will come in handy later.
As we do in Artist Alleys, I asked a friend if she would like to split a table. It made it less painful since it’d be $150 each. The weird part is.. vendors had a choice to either sell tickets that added up to the total for the table, or just.. pay for the table by buying tickets. Mind you, tickets were $15 each, meaning me and my pal Avi would be having to sell 10 tickets each…. or buy 10 tickets… or something… it was weird.
This should have sent up a red flag, though. This means they were relying on vendors to bring in a crowd, even though they claimed to be advertising all over the place. Whatever, I went with it.
Another red flag should have been that they weren’t providing tables. Apparently, the best they could do was give 2 of the nightclub tables which were 2’x2′. That’s pretty stupid. You can’t expect people to commute to your venue AND bring their own 6′ table in NYC. That’s goddamn impossible. But I went with it because I’m a stupid optimist.
I got to the club and the security was strangely lax. Any idiot could have walked in and said they were a vendor and nobody would bat an eye. There was no proper designated area for each vendor. You just set up camp wherever. Since it was a first come, first serve thing, Avi and I ended up getting stuck on the upper level – meaning there’d obviously be less traffic.
The bad thing about this type of event is that there’s a lot going on at once. There was a concert followed by a fashion show and people are so fixated on what’s happening on stage that they’re not walking around and buying stuff. The first group, Rainbow Bubble, was generic cuteness. The second group, Nylon Pink, was unexpectedly badass and set the bar pretty high. The third performer whose name was Kitty Pride or some shit was awful. She rolled around like a moron, spilled her booze all over the goddamn stage, sang bad karaoke/rapped horribly for way too long and can best be described as a “Hobo Ke$ha on drugs.” People cheered when she left the stage.
The fashion show began at around 9:30pm. Coincidentally, we were told at that time that after the fashion show, we would have to pack up and leave. Wait.. what the flying fuck? That meant we had to pack up at 10. But we were told that the show would end at 11! Remember that $60 per hour that I mentioned for renting the vendor space? Yeah, we got gypped of $60 right there and there was nothing that we could do about it. Most vendors were hoping that at least they would get some traffic after the fashion show.. but that was not meant to be.
So the fashion show happened and it was mediocre and we had to pack up and get the fuck out. They also rushed us while we were packing up, like they really wanted us to get out of there. From what it seems, the nightclub was going to be used for actual night club stuff and we needed to get out of there quickly, meaning these people had no idea what they were doing (or were skimping financially) when it came to renting venue space. In fact, I’m fairly certain that they money they milked from the vendors was what they used to rent the space in the first place.
Many vendor friends that I know made little to no sales, and mind you, these are no amateurs. They’re artists that know their shit and have been in the business for longer and more consistently than I. Most barely made enough for the train ride back home, let alone paying off the $150 for their half of the table.
Final Verdict: KawaiiLand was a total scam. The tables were way too expensive for a 5 hour event that actually turned into a 4 hour event. I will definitely not be returning if there’s another one next year as it was a waste of time, money and sanity.