We had the most awesome opportunity to participate in Renegade Fair in Chicago on September 9th and 10th. This is "one of the world's largest curated showcases of independent craft and design." Their mission is
"to create a vibrant and lively marketplace that reflects and illuminates the work of today's modern makers. We strive to keep our events relevant to emerging and established designers alike, focusing on the highest quality goods and the freshest voices."
Well. Damn. What an honor, huh? We'll take that...to be chosen to be among some of the very best in the country. We're blushing. And grateful. And after being selected, we were in need of a display, too.
So since we are dedicated to travel and adventure and experiencing life, we decided that the perfect platform for showcasing our apparel and accessories would be a vendor cart on wheels - reminiscent of those seen abroad in other countries (see below). And although we wanted a TukTuk, we found that not only are most not street legal in the US, it was really beyond our budget. So we opted for the alternative of a 3-wheel bike and started searching around for one to purchase.
Images via Pinterest
However, we discovered that these are hard to find, and those pre-made bikes with boxes that we did find are designed primarily for food. Well that wasn't going to work. The best option was pointing us towards purchasing a bare bike frame and then building out the "box", or the display area, ourselves. Plus, we wanted it to look unique.
Yet most bikes were still pretty expensive, even without the box. But after dedicated searching, we scored an amazing vintage Hendrick's Gin bike on Ebay for a total, complete and utter steal. Then...problem....she (yes, it's a she) was located in Memphis...and we are not. Hmm....How to get her to Minnesota?
After much research, I came across a site called Roadie and my life will never be the same. It's a site that "matches people with stuff to send with drivers already headed in the right direction. The result is a cheaper, easier, greener delivery service." I thought - no way. No one is going to cart this bike across the country for cheap. But I posted the job anyway and the next morning someone accepted my bid. I had the bike in my hands (or under my rump) a few days later. It was unreal.
Now she had to have a name. So hailing from the state of Tennessee and seeing that we are all about adventure, we decided Memphis Roam the Wander Wagon would be an appropriate moniker. Fitting. And Memphis was a beaut in her own right when we received her, but we wanted to give her a little face-lift. So with the help of One on One Bike and Powder Coat Technologies, we painted her white (but kept the original Hendrick's Gin sign), changed the wheels and gave her a good 'ol tune up. She was ready to go. Almost.
Now enter one of the biggest challenges all vendors face - display of their product. Not only do we have to display it. but we have to get it all on a bike without it looking too busy. I had a million ideas (all too busy or too expensive or too not-gonna-work-at-all) and ultimately it was Randy and Amy at Frog Hollow Studios who stepped in for the giant win. Talk about amazing. These two are so unbelievably incredible - creatively gifted and so crazy nice. I am beyond grateful to have met them and secured their help. Because, typical to my style, we were down to the wire (you try having a couple of side hustles and a biz - time isn't always your buddy). But Randy and Amy completely stepped up. I let go of the reins and let Frog Hollow just do their thing. I had NO IDEA what it was going to look like. But I trusted them and so glad I did. Because....look. This is what they came up with, in literally a few days, so we could make it to the show on time.
We picked up the box on the way out of town (that's when I saw it for the first time, so I had been a little stressed up to that point), strapped her down to a Harley Davidson trailer and drove off to Chicago. (I also have to give a shout out to Visual Impact in Blaine. They helped with signage. Plus unbelievable customer service.)
So we were off to Renegade.
The parking in Chicago, with a trailer, proved to be the most challenging (along with storing the bike and box in a safe place). But we made it work and even had a day to play, so we skipped around the windy city. (Shameless Plug: I was so glad to have our Original Travel Wrap because the temp fluctuated and it was great to have another layer.) Our shenanigans included: Sky Deck Chicago, Eataly Chicago (I could live here), an architecture boat tour (they serve drinks). Chicago Bagel Authority, The Doughnut Vault and Café BaBaReeba. There is so much more to this city, but these are some of my quick favs. (Sorry for the terrible pics - wine may have been involved....)
And Renegade was a success! THANK YOU to all the amazing people we met, both attendees and vendors. And a special thank you to all who purchased. You make the difference in our small business. Several people purchased one or two pair of underwear and then came back for more, purchasing online, because they loved them. One woman's testimonial, as she purchased 12 more assorted underwear after trying her first:
I saw you at renegade. I bought a few things and love them! Told my husband I'm switching out all my underwear with yours.
Wow. Again, we're blushing. And grateful.
I also want to give a special Shout Out to all the other MN vendors that were there - Anywhere Apparel(our fav fellow travel brand), Punchy Magnolia(the only other vendor cart at the fair), Everthine Jewelry, WAAM, WorkerB, Larissa Lodinand Printerette. I hope I didn't miss anyone, there was so much awesomeness to see.
Thanks peeps! Follow our Instagram to see more on the Adventures of Memphis Roam as she makes her way through the holiday season. Always a trip.
Until next time, Chicago.
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