Going to the Canton Fair...

by jane ubell April 26, 2014

What is the next big thing? In eyewear it's about combining fashion and integrating technology. Our culture seems a little obsessed with technology and I am certainly part of that hungry audience hungry looking for the next new invention.

 It takes creative brilliance to understand that our everyday problems when solved, has an opportunity to create innovation.

My journey leads me to China where I just spent this week visiting the famous Canton Fair. The fair is in Guanzhou a province well known for manufacturing. In fact the BenZhi  shamballa bracelets are from this city.

 This is where thousands of manufacturers come from all over Asia to showcase their new products as well as time-honored traditional wares we use everyday. It's a mind numbing experience. The exhibition halls are spread over a million square feet with thousands of people speaking every language you can imagine. I was armed with great walking shoes, a camera, and a map of the exhibition hall (if you have ever been to a convention in Las Vegas or NY’s Javits Center, this is like an exhibition center on “steroids”).


My purpose was to keep an open mind and peruse the “goods.” I found everything from household wares, baskets, electronics, eyewear and hundreds of products in between.

 My day began at 8am when I left the Sheraton Hotel in Dongguan. Many of the guests staying at the hotel, visit the Canton Fair for years and years and prefer to stay here as it is only an hour bus ride (which the hotel provides) from the Fair. The hotel completely caters to the international and American clientele(with a fabulous pool, luxury rooms and every amenity)

In fact, my family is in the shoebox business and they stay here multiple times a year. It is almost a second home for them. When I arrived, everyone greeted me like a family member. (nice when it takes you 20 hours of traveling to get here).


The bus departs everyday for the fair (I attended Phase 2, April 23-27) at 8am and heads off for Guanzhou.


The buss arrived about 9am, to what seemed like chaos, however, it really was a well-organized maze with hundreds of thousands of people entering security lines getting badges and guards checking screening credentials.


The day began by zipping along a fast moving line and getting my badge and heading into the great hall. When I entered the hall at about 9:30 am I immediately made my way to the “eyewear” area. Of course, I was looking for the next big thing. I found readers with LED lights with re-chargeable batteries, Polarized sunglasses (which are an old technology but with beautiful frames) and quite simply gorgeous eyewear. I am basically taking my little obsession across the world, as I am always on the hunt for great products.


After a few hours meeting the eyewear vendors I made my way through to the gift area. Fascinating. The “hot” areas were the electronic gifts. The Power Banks along with the  new technology solar powered cell phone chargers were in demand. There were cell phone speakers, iPad speakers powered by solar energy.


---more to come.

jane ubell
jane ubell


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