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HSN’s Holt On The Hunt For Next Housewares Hits

“This show is the lifeblood of the merchant.”

That one thought encapsulates the view HSN’s Allyson Holt has about the annual International Home + Housewares Show. The four-day gathering in the Windy City presents the e-tailer’s vice president of merchandising, culinary and food the opportunity to hunt for new housewares, take a look at the latest trends and meet with a host of vendors.

During the recent Home + Housewares Show, HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® spent the morning of Monday, March 7, with Holt as she met with current HSN vendors StoreBound and Clipper Corp. and spoke to entrepreneurs to offer advice on developing products and doing business with HSN.

8:30 a.m. – Inventor’s Revue

Holt started her morning in the North Building as the featured speaker at the Inventor’s Revue, sponsored by the International Housewares Association. Her presentation, “Pitching and Delivering,” gives a crowd of inventors that are participating in the nearby Inventors Corner Pavilion some valuable insight into product development and the requirements of working with HSN.

“Before approaching anyone, you need to do your homework, you need to know who we are,” said Holt. “You need to know who your audience is and who is going to buy your product. You also need to know what solutions your product offers. You can talk about features and benefits, but really it’s about how you’re providing solutions to consumers that will resonate most.”

Upon completing her presentation, Holt and HomeWorld head to the Lakeside Building for her meeting with StoreBound.

10 a.m. – StoreBound

Holt’s first meeting of the day is with Evan Dash, president of StoreBound. The company develops and markets an assortment of kitchen electrics sold under the Dash brand.

A few years ago, HSN added appliances from StoreBound to the its small electrics assortment, which included several successful “Today’s Specials.”

Before reviewing several appliances, Dash introduced Holt to Miguel Valenzuela, inventor of the PancakeBot. Valenzuela launched his innovative 3D pancake printer/maker via a Kickstarter campaign. In 2014, StoreBound acquired the rights to the PancakeBot and now works with Valenzuela to market the appliance.

Holt responds well to the innovation and chatted with Valenzuela and his young daughter, who eloquently explained the features of the PancakeBot. After spending a few minutes with Lily and snacking on some of the tasty pancake designs, Holt turned her attention to key electrics in the StoreBound booth.

“One of the reasons we like this line so much is that StoreBound spends so much time working on B-roll and videos,” Holt said. “All of these images are critical for what we’re doing. Somebody can look at that as an omelet maker and that’s great, but I have to show everything else. I love the fact that they are always on trend with their color palette, and that is super important to our customer.”

11 a.m. – Clipper Corp.

Holt switches her attention from small electrics to cookware as she entered the South Building booth of Clipper Corp. She is greeted by Jeff Malkasian, the company’s evp/consumer packaged goods.

Clipper’s assortment features the Allrecipes and Chopped licensed cookware and kitchenware brands. The meeting gives Holt an opportunity to see some of the final products in person and brainstorm marketing and strategies for the future.

“What is exciting for us from Allrecipes is the user-generated content. This whole community coming together to develop that is natural for what we do,” said Holt.

The Allrecipes line is featured at Clipper’s booth and the company is also demonstrating key cookware and kitchen gadgets from the brand. The live demo is something close to Holt’s heart. Holt and Malkasian then spend time looking at the new lineup, and discussed the product features that make the Allrecipes kitchenware unique.

“Clipper Corp. is essentially a sourcing company, that is really our expertise,” Malkasian explained. “For us, it’s about listening to our customers, hearing what HSN has to say. How do we make a product that is going to fit their model? What’s innovative, what’s demonstrable and will do well on television, as well as fit the general market as a whole?”

Malkasian and Holt point out the Sizzle Sensor skillet as a perfect example of Clipper working to meet consumer preferences. The skillet has a heat sensitive handle that will change colors to alert consumers when the pan is hot.

Not surprisingly, Holt is eager to share a live demo of the cookware with HomeWorld and her passion for the skillet is evident.

For more on HSN’s Allyson Holt at the Housewares Show, see the April 25, 2016, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. HomeWorld’s coverage also includes a video presentation: