As with anything in life, you either need to grow and move forward or remain stagnant. So when I had an opportunity to have a booth at the recent January 2010 Surf Expo, I seized the opportunity.
We had just been in Orlando a week or so before, so not even being remotely caught up on life and work, we packed up a borrowed trailer from Echo Movement and my jeep and headed down to Florida with our nutty dog Piper for the 20ish hour drive. We decided to rent a house and may I add that VRBO.com is the sh*t. It was a nice change not living out of a hotel.
$22 to park. Ouch. We unloaded and set up fairly painlessly and with a few trips to IKEA and Target, we were able to set up our booth with vibes of our living room at home: Cozy, artistic, warm and inviting. We had lots of my Giclée canvases on display along with many of the officially licensed products I have partnered with.
This being the first major trade show I have had a booth at, we didn't know what to expect and ok, I admit it, we sorta' jumped in blindly and just had faith it would work. We knew we wanted to have a really good time and drum up some business. I am stoked to report that all goals were met and them some.
The SurfExpo staff was so epic to work with, they were accommodating and kind and fun to hang with and really made us feel welcome and appreciated. One of the most special things about the boarding industries is the people involved. All ages, all locations, all religions beliefs, races & different political views.
In other industries where I've worked or been exposed to, there are cutthroat competitors and oddball colleagues gathered around a water cooler whom have nothing between them significant except for the commonalities of TPS reports and Powerpoint Presentations. However going to the Surf Expo or other such “work events” always reminds me of how cool it is to all have a common bond to share above and beyond the quarterly goals and marketing campaigns. We all share our love of board riding, adrenaline rushes and see our daily surroundings as a playground.
With a little help from friends…
Such new friends who we've seen a few times recently are Georgette and Hunter from Indoboard. They're eally wonderful people who brightened up our day with smiley conversation, hugs and a gift of supreme coolness…a new concave Indoboard! This made our booth complete and became a fixture underneath my feet for the rest of the show.
Big thanks to my friends at Emergen-C Vitamin drink who supplied a ridiculously large amount of free give-aways for our booth. I was honored to have done the artwork for their Emergen-C Blue product which is partnered with Surfrider Foundation and this seemed to be a great event to do some more cross promoting.
We were really happy to have Hitoshi, our new Account Executive for Japan with us. He was really valuable to our team and brings a whole new level of professionalism to our operation. There was a moment at the expo where Chelsea and I were talking to some friends and I looked over to see Hitoshi speaking in Japanese to new prospective accounts to my left. To my right was my friend Gabe speaking in Spanish to other customers from South America and another friend was conducting business in Portuguese to Brazilian shop owners. I mentally took a step back and was completely blown away on how surreal this scene was.
During the show I did some live painting. People always seem to dig getting a glimpse into the creative process and I was happy to share. To add some extra groove to the demonstration, our talented friend Gabe Gomez sang and played some epic original acoustic tunes on uke and guitar. Gabe is one of the most generous and warm hearted people I know and his talent is just as stellar. I know once his album comes out that it will be a hit.
This expo presented some fantastic opportunities to catch up with cherished friends. My good friend Bob Mignogna is the epitome of success in the business side of the Surfing industry (google his name and you'll see why). He invited us for drinks one of the nights at Expo and whether he knows it or not I can't help but think what an important mentor he is to me as well as a “bro”. Being able to connect your passion to your business part of your brain is a unique gift which I try and nourish often and he's one of the best at that.
Our friends Mark and Brian also came out to help us big time. Having these two musclebound surfing chiropractors around not only added to the comic relief at the booth but really made the breakdown of the booth possible. Without them, I might still be in Orlando with a handcart. Not to mention the free adjustments afterwards. Epic friends!
Way too cool
The SurfExpo crowds were in for some major coolness at this event. I just had to escape my booth for a bit when the iconic surf legend Shaun Thomson did a presentation on the history of surfboard shaping. In the audience was legendary surfer, Pete Townend. Just to be in the same room with them hearing Shaun's firsthand experiences of his the early days at North Shore was enough to make me stoked for the rest of the show.
Another great presentation was the2010 East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame Awards which our friend Hunter Joslin MC'ed. It included some historical photos and stories from the inductees which included: Bob Rohmann, Bud Gardner, Doug Waters, George Miller, Jeff Klugel,Ross Houston, Scott McCranels, Sharon Wolfe & Sue Lloyd Hogan
The last hours of SurfExpo became more similar to a shopping spree. Handwritten signs got taped to surfboards and goods around the floor. No one wants to package and ship stuff back if they can help it and after some negotiations, I ended up leaving with a new Stand Up Paddleboard from my friends at Pau Hana Surf Co. Getting it home easily?.. Well…that's a different story but nevertheless I have a new excuse not to work. 🙂
Looking back at what was the January Surf Expo 2010 I can say that I am really amped. This seems to have been the decisive event which was needed to push my career into high gear. We took orders from literally around the World and based on the energy and momentum of this trip, we came home and got a new office and studio space and are really excited for a fun and successful season ahead of us
Hanging in Jacksonville on the drive home with our friends Cat & Eric Brigmond
Huge thanks go out to our friends, customers and fans who made our first booth experience at Surf Expo one of the most fun career related events ever!