Two weekends ago we had the pleasure of hosting a live screen printing workshop with our friends at SEED People's Market in Costa Mesa, CA.
So Who/What is SEED?
SEED is one of those shops that you look at in awe. Not only is it so well curated, but it has also been built out in the most unique way possible. Even better? The people behind the scenes running this place are quite possibly some of the most kind, generous and welcoming bunch of folks we've had the pleasure of meeting and working with.
They offer a variety of hip and trendy outdoor clothing and gear, a well curated selection of home goods, accessories, unique kids items and a great variety of women's wear.
They have been in business for 10 years (wow!) and are located in a really neat area in Costa Mesa, called The Camp. Across the street is home to another development created by the same people called The Lab. Both of which are essentially hip, trendy mini malls full of local businesses that are killing it. We are truly honored to be a part of the incredible things they have and continue to build.
People keep asking us-why did you come all the way from Colorado to do a free workshop? How are you making money off of this?
Short answer is that we didn't make money off of the workshop directly.
So here's why we did it:
A. Life isn't all about making money
B. Doing this will actually benefit our long term game of being successful, here's why we think that:
We're in it for the long term:
Not only do we feel like it's important to stay connected with people you have chosen to partner with, but we also feel that if we take the time and effort to build relationships and connect with our community, then it will actually benefit us in the long run. We believe we will see a positive financial impact in the long term, even if that means taking a trip to California on our own dime to make that happen. A lot of people get hung up on the instant gratification of making money. While that is important at times, it's also good to have the patience and strategy to think about how things will benefit you and the people you decide to partner with in the long run.
By dedicating a weekend to doing a free screen printing workshop we were able to connect face to face with the new market of Costa Mesa. We were also fortunate enough to connect with the staff of SEED who have been doing an absolutely phenomenal job at running and curating this store. We were able to connect on more of a personal level by sharing life stories and being able to connect as humans beyond the day to day business relationship.
We are firm believers that business is built on community and that without it, you won't last long. My great-grandpa who ran the original Moore's in the 50's had a feature in a newspaper article outlining how they were able to experience success as a small clothing shop. He was a firm believer in giving everyone the time of day and to make a true effort to connect with your people. Tanner and I often think about this as we shape our relationships with those around us.
Why it was great:
- We were able to look at their market and see how we can fill a gap in our product line that both Southern California and various markets we sell to will enjoy. Getting this sense of inspiration is also what keeps us going as creatives. Feeling inspired by a new environment is what helps us thrive, which ultimately allows us to provide our customers with products they will continue to love, while still creating things that fit the ethos of our brand. Inspiration can be hard to find when we are stuck in the daily grind of running a business so taking this time is incredibly important to the health of our growth.
- By hosting a free workshop we were able to drive more traffic to our brand in an area we haven't spent time in and got to know the locals that favorite the shop. It's our goal to educate people on the story of our brand in hopes of having them come back to see what's new from time to time.
- Once again, running a successful business starts with your people and your community. If you don't take the time, and make an effort to connect with them, you likely won't make it very far. Foster relationships. Doing it because you care and find interest in getting to know your partners is the right reason for us. That said, if you aren't going to do it for that reason, understand that taking this time will actually impact your bottom line if you take time to patiently foster relationships.
- We were able to see what our presence is in the store, see how we can improve the experience to make our area be the most appealing to customers, and develop ways to improve our retail experience moving forward.
- Not to mention, we love traveling and take the opportunity to do so when things are thrown our way.
The window display:
We planned this trip a few months back so we had some time to plan. They thought-how cool would it be to have you guys do the window display for the month that we were in town. Have we ever done a window display? No. Did we agree anyway? Yes.
I had no idea where to start or time to really add it to my plate so I looked at Tanner and told him he had about 5 days to get it figured out, built and sent off. He said "okay...sweetheart" We had so many cardboard boxes so he looked at them and told me he was going to construct this entire display from cardboard. My first thought was that he was going to put all this effort into it and because it's cardboard, it would look like shit. I didn't share those doubts because I know it's not encouraging. I did, however, ask him how the hell he was going to go about the execution, because I did need to make sure it was on brand. He made his first little prototype and I thought well I guess that could work. So he worked day in and day out to construct an entire scene from boxes that were about to go into the recycling. And I must say, he did an incredible job. While I shouldn't doubt him because just about everything he does is phenomenal, I just couldn't picture his vision until he brought it to life (guess that's what makes the world go round?).
Here's what the process looked like from start to finish:
What did we do in Costa Mesa? (Other than visiting this bad ass store of course)
We got a lot of great recommendations from the incredible team at SEED so we hit everywhere we had time for on the list.
Here's where we went:
- Toast Newport (great chicken and waffles)
- Memphis Costa Mesa (Tanner loved the gumbo)
- In N Out (California Staple)
- TK Burgers (Great local joint)
- Habana (Great Cuban food)
- Wahoo's (We had our first date at a Wahoo's and both showed up wearing blue plaid, so we had to stop in for old times sake)
- Salty Bear Brewery (Great contemporary and design elements)
- Bootleggers Brewery (Loved the exterior of the building)
- Ruin-Great cocktails
So how did we pull this trip off?
We were able to bring all of our screen printing supplies with us for free. We thought about mailing it but actually felt like things would arrive safely if we just brought it all ourselves. We were able to have our screens be our second free checked "bag" and checked our inks and supplies in another suitcase.
We didn't rent a car because it just seemed like a unnecessary expense to pay for one, then pay to park it everywhere so we just relied on Lyft's (what a great time to be alive). Since we were so close to everything, we only spent about $40 on all of our Lyft rides for the weekend.
When we were done with our screens we decided we didn't really want to haul them back since both were about to rip anyway so SEED was excited to take them and hang them in their break room.
We had the paper for the workshop shipped to them from our supplier ahead of time and brought everything else on our own.
How can we afford to take trips like this?
Credit Cards for the freaking win:
People often look at us and wonder how we are able to afford traveling so much. I'll tell you one thing, it sure isn't because we are made of money, we're just strategic about how we go about it. One beauty of being a business owner is the rewards that can come from credit cards if used properly. We have so many expenses so why not get the points from those when possible?
We charge just about everything we can on credit cards (and then pay them off every month) to get the reward points and then turn those points into free flights and hotel stays when things like this come up. Because we smartly use our southwest credit card on business expenses, we were able to earn the companion pass 2 years in a row (and will earn it again this year). This means that Tanner gets to fly free with me on any trip we take together (yep, 100% free) and since we accumulate so many points every month, we have enough to cover just about any my flights so just about every flight we take is completely free.
What credit cards do we use?
- Southwest Credit Card which is good for getting our free flights but could also be used for hotel deals.
- Marriott Bonvoy which is great for points on hotels and getting great deals on anything in the Marriott family (which I believe is an incredibly run company by the way) which always seem to be pretty good bang for our buck.
I'm sure there are many others out there that have great benefits, these are just the ones we have been drawn to for what we like to redeem our points for.
-Take time to build relationships with your people. Customers, partners, people that just want to print a free poster, whoever. I really can't emphasize this enough.
-When opportunities present themselves, just jump on them. The idea was brought up in passing about coming out for a workshop. We almost immediately got a date on the calendar and made it happen.
-Be grateful. Yes, we came all the way out for a free workshop but it was importnat to us to also express our gratitude for being welcomed into a new community we haven't been exposed to so far. We were just really thankful for the opportunity to be able to connect with a new market and be able to put ourselves out there in a way we haven't before.
-Spend some money sometimes without expecting a direct return on investment. It's not always direct but if you think about the long term, a well thought out decision is usually worth it.
-Have fun! By knowing this was a non money making event, we could simply do our thing, tell our story and embrace the experience presented to us. And what a fun time we had!