I have been reading and hearing about how unhappy independent designers are about their treatment at CHA. Having attended two years (once with a guest badge and once with a retailer's) here are my random thoughts from under the palm tree...for whatever they are worth.
CHA is a trade show. Manufacturers go with one purpose in mind...sell their product. Retailers go with one purpose in mine...buy the best product for their clients. It is all about the money, honey! While independent designers can obtain their own badges, getting a job designing for a major manufacturer does not fit into the manuf/retailer/money equation. Sorry gals...is really is NOT about you. It is about the money.
If I had gone as a retailer with a sizable budget (which could concieveably be Summer CHA), I would have walked away from any booth who spent more time chatting up a designer than the booth owner did with me...and yes, I saw designers take up retailers time with product owners.
Designers have a valuable place in the equation. They promote and demonstrate ways that products can be used and can sell product in unbelievable ways. The solution to the manufacturer/retailer/designer problem (as I see it...and you know what they say about free advise...)is to have a job fair for designers prior to the official opening of the convention. Manufacturers could sit at tables, interview potential designers and have a confab party after the couple of hours of appointments.
Retailers could get into the booths; manufacturers could sell their product unobstructed, and designers could set up interviews with far less interference.
Just some random thoughts from under the palm tree here in Paradise.