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As the coronavirus continues to create challenges for the shoe industry, the future of trade shows is one of many aspects that remains uncertain. Will digital events serve as a replacement? What will exhibitors and retailers need for the best possible experience? To provide insight on what trade shows will look like now and in a post COVID-19 world, FN has gathered leading organizers for a virtual roundtable to discuss opportunities and obstacles ahead.
Kelly Helfman, President of WWDMAGIC, Project Womens, Micam Americas & Sourcing at MAGIC
Kelly Helfman believes in having it all. A modern mother of two and President of WWDMAGIC, Project Womens, Stitch, Pool Tradeshow, Micam Americas and Sourcing @ MAGIC, she oversees sales, merchandising, partnerships, branding, retail relations and more for these events. Under Kelly’s leadership, WWDMAGIC has been named the top U.S. tradeshow in both 2018 & 2019. With over 14 years of experience at MAGIC, Kelly was just named one of BizBash's 1000 Most Influential Event Professionals for 2019.
John Heron, Executive Director, FFANY
John Heron is the Executive Director of the non-profit Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY). An accomplished footwear executive, Heron has over 20 years of experience in the industry and works closely with association members to maximize the value of the FFANY organization. Heron joined the FFANY following a successful career at HH Brown, where he led the Born Brand Group for 13 years as Senior Vice President and General Manager.
Laura Conwell-O’Brien, Executive Director, Atlanta Shoe Market
Laura Conwell-O’Brien is a well-respected leader in the tradeshow industry. For the last 38 years she has been serving as the Executive Director of the Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association. She manages all of the intricate operational aspects of planning and executing the semiannual shoe tradeshow held in Atlanta, GA.
Conwell-O’Brien is recognized as a visionary, in which she realized that Southeastern Shoe Travelers was emerging as a leader in the tradeshow industry. In 2007, her foresights lead to rebranding the show name to The Atlanta Shoe Market. Under her leadership, the Atlanta Shoe Market has been recognized as one of the most essential shows to attend, as there is representation both nationally and internationally. The show encompasses over 1,300 brands spanning across the men’s, women’s, juniors, athletics and children’s footwear.
Her extensive background and experience includes marketing, strategic planning, branding, meeting and tradeshow production. As an advocate for the footwear industry, Conwell-O’Brien has been working closely with The Two Ten Foundation since the 1980’s and she was recognized in 2018 as a Two Ten Hero. She continues to remain focused on the ever changing tradeshow industry and will remain committed to facilitating the partnership between vendors and retailers.
Nikara Johns, Women's Editor, Footwear News
Nikara Johns is the women’s editor for FN, working with top designers, brands and celebrities within the market. In addition to contributing to print and digital, she leads event coverage for FN’s SPY vertical, handling red carpet events with on-camera reporting, from the Met Gala to the CFDA Awards. Before joining FN in 2014, Johns was a reporter at Variety in Los Angeles.