The Start-Up Journey: Getting Ready for SXSW
One of the best and most challenging parts of the start-up journey is doing several roles simultaneously. Recently, we’ve tested our ability to wear several hats. Along the way, we’ve learned a few new skills and tested some old ones.
Several weeks ago, Otter Pass was accepted to the SXSW Marketplace (it’s free and open to the public—info below about how to come to our booth!). We were very excited—this will be our first big, in-person event. And if you’re not from Austin, or have never been, there’s no way to describe the energy that SXSW brings to our city. People come from all over the world for this vibrant, multifaceted week—we can’t wait. Last year, Jessica got to run around during SXSW producing a video series for Teen Vogue; this year, we’re excited to launch an Otter Pass booth.
But we’ll be honest—putting everything together for a booth felt a bit daunting. Luckily, the Otter Pass designer, Corie Humble, threw together some sketches and we brainstormed just the right vibe.
We wanted a background that captured the heritage feel of our brand, with a touch of the fishing lodge Otter Pass is named for. We wanted something that would grab people’s attention immediately within the large marketplace. We’re passionate about making any project we do environmentally sustainable, so we wanted to reuse as many materials as we could.
And it had to be something we could build in our workshop (ahem…our garage).
When someone in our neighborhood Facebook group asked if anyone wanted reclaimed wood, we jumped on it—within an hour, Jonathan pulled up with free, gorgeous wood sticking out of the back of our minivan.
He and our friend Don Brimberry spent a long Saturday designing and framing out the backdrops we envisioned. They cut the wood to the right size, piecing the varied planks together.
We spent several weekends antiquing with our family to find accessories to set off our products. It's one of our family's favorite activities—the girls love to dig with us in old shops. We love showing them antiques, like rotary phones and tape players.
After several weeks of working on the booth, we have everything set up like we want it in our garage. Our neighbors keep checking on the progress as they walk by—we’ve had a lot of fun explaining what we’re doing as the project slowly took shape.
By the end, Jonathan had discovered that he still had the woodworking skills he honed years ago doing construction in college. Jessica enjoyed accessorizing and arranging the products with a vintage-meets-modern feel.
Our three girls had the most fun of all. They’ve started taking the neighborhood kids on tours: “This is our business! It’s called Otter Pass!” We’re going to have to shut it down before they start charging admission. Our kids are definitely following in their parents’ footsteps—we like to start the entrepreneurial journey young around here!
Follow along on our Instagram and Facebook pages next week as we get ready for SXSW.
The SXSW Marketplace is Thursday-Sunday, March 15-17 at the Austin Convention Center. It’s free and open to the public with a SXSW Guest Pass. Otter Pass is Booth 313—we’d love for you to stop by!