In October of 2014, a group of us were working our way through our fifth bottle of wine at an Oakland restaurant. It was me, Mats Anderson of Indigofera jeans in Stockholm Sweden, and a few other folks from Juniper Ridge. The conversation was flying. The topic of trade shows came up. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a trade show for us? Fuck that big convention center, plastic name tag, endless aisles crap! Let’s get the best makers in the world together, in some remote wilderness location, and put on a real Makers Conference. Let’s throw an event that’s as as inspiring as our brands are.”
“Fuck yeah!” we cried, red faced, fists banging into the table. We had no idea what we were doing.
One of the things I love about entrepreneurs is that we’re not slowed down by not knowing how to do something. I’ve never thrown a trade show, but hey, how hard can it be? It’s actually very hard.
We thought a few of our maker friends would show up and we’d have a mellow party in the desert. We set the date for February, five months away. We didn’t have time to plan anything, so we kept it small and mellow. It took off like a rocket. Tons of makers wanted in, musicians wanted to play , the fellow barber boys wanted to set up their chairs in the desert and give free haircuts. I couldn’t say no to any of it.
The logistics of the event started to spiral out of control. We lost a ton of money that first year and learned some hard lessons. But, wow. The event was magic. Everyone walked away grinning. We just had to do it again.
Desert & Denim 2016 Vendors