Earlier this week I flew out to Los Angeles to hang with some really cool people at the pre-launch party for Pop Up Grocer's Venice store. I was in LA for literally 4 hours and then flew right back to Seattle to make sure I was able to keep up with all the orders (trust me, I didn't mind).
Pop Up Grocer (PUG) is not like your typical grocery store. PUG is a highly curated retail environment. They've gone out and found the coolest brands in the country, and put them all under one roof. At PUG, when you have a question you're not trying to playing hide & seek with the staff, they're right there eager to help and full of knowledge. But what makes them really interesting, the entire store is gone after three weeks - hence the pop up in their name. They move to a new city every three months, and bring all the cool brands they carry to a new group of consumers.
On my way to LA, I wore my Mighty Gum sweatshirt out of the house for the first time. I was really REALLY hoping someone would ask me about it, but all I did was walk around with my chest puffed out like a bird trying to attract a mate. I walked around the Seattle airport, casually standing in high-visibility areas, fishing for a bite. Nope, everyone was running around, trying to catch their flights, grabbing a quick bite, or heading out the airport to see their loved ones. So, when it was time to board my flight, I got on, found my seat, parked myself and promptly passed out.
A few hours later, we touched down in LAX. As soon as I could take my phone off airplane mode, I texted my buddy to let him know that I had just landed and I'd be out in a jiffy. I stood up to grab my backpack from the overhead bin, and stretch myself awake. I was just 30 minutes from the first time I'd see Mighty Gum on shelf in the wild - I needed to be in top form! And right there, when I least expected it, the woman who was sitting right next to me asked, "What's Mighty Gum?" I had to use every bit of my strength to mask my internal elation. I looked down at my chest like I didn't realize I was wearing my Mighty Gum sweatshirt, "Oh, right. Mighty Gum is a line of functional chewing gum. It's made with adaptogens, botanicals, vitamins...", I said super nonchalantly.
I was definitely talking really loud, when the guy sitting in the row in front of us turned around and asked, "Do you have a sample?" I had packs tucked in every pocket of my backpack for someone, anyone to ask me this very question. I said, "Yeah, I should somewhere here." I grabbed a fresh pack from the closest pocket and handed the pack to him. He popped a piece out, put the piece in his mouth and exclaimed: "This is good, I like it!" Honestly, as a founder, nothing makes me happier than hearing a complete stranger telling me they likey Mighty. This man gave me everything I needed, this whole trip to LA was already worth it. And, before the joy of this man's reaction to the Immunity gum could wash away, a lady in the row behind me says "You've got an entire fan club here! Can we try some too?!" I almost fainted with excitement. I instinctively grabbed the other sample pack, handed it to her before I realized that it was my turn to deplane.
I said bye to my new BFFs and walked off the plane feeling like a million. The power of social validation is no joke. It was priceless. I got out the airport, my buddy picked me up, we hit up the Pop Grocer pre-launch party, met some other founders, hung out with Emily Schildt (PUG founder) for a few minutes, and then headed back to the airport. Most of my time at the party was spent admiring my Mighty Gum on the shelf. That beautiful berrymint tray of chewing gum that I spent the last year and half working on was holding its own, representing Mighty Gum on the shelf - all growns-up.
LA was quick, but rewarding in many ways. If you're in the LA area, head to Venice and check out all the cool brands at Pop Up Grocer.