I was right. IML WAS different, but so fun in so many ways. It wasn't until after it was all over, though, that I realized the monumental accomplishment we had just finished.
The whole process was a whirlwind. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, unloaded the truck, and started setting up our booth (which became a process that we would work on for the next 3 days until we opened on Friday). We worked together, steadily, and in the end, we had a finished product that looked extremely professional. So many visitors had told us that they remembered us from last year...of course, we just opened in December!
I got the fastest crash course ever on leathercraft. The two weeks prior to IML, we mass produced all of the harnesses we would end up selling. That was a crazy busy two weeks of 18 hour days, but we learned how to work together and accomplish a mass production, together, as a team. That is a lesson that's invaluable.
We brought all of our harnesses in the final step of production. On purpose. Saturday was the busiest day we've ever had! I was fitting harnesses to people nonstop all day long. It was so fun!
I think I'll sum up my feelings for the whole weekend with my favorite story from Saturday of IML.
We at Twin Cities Leather don't believe in selling our products in sizes "Small, Medium, or Large." People don't come in sizes. Kinky people are certainly no exception. All our harnesses are sized to fit your body, custom work, on the spot. And we can then guarantee you that you will be able to walk away from our booth or shop with a piece of gear that fits you like a glove and that will make you feel amazing.
Towards the end of the day on Saturday, an Asian bearish type guy walked in and started looking around. I finished fitting the harness I was working on, and asked, "Can I help you?"
He said he was interested in getting a harness. His eye was caught by all the custom fittings we were doing. "I've been looking all over the market all day and no one has a harness that fits me."
My heart sank for him. That's gotta be a rough feeling when you're shopping for something that you want so badly just to fit in and be yourself. But I was happy to help.
I showed him some different styles of X harnesses, bulldogs, and in a few different colors. I helped him pick out a black bulldog harness with white trim. As I tightened it down to his body, I realized how good it really looked on him. The white leather really popped against his Asian skin and darker hair/features. I think he realized it too. "Can I wrap it up for you?"
"Uh, yeah, sure..."
I smiled and took it off him. In about 10 minutes I had it riveted up and the excess cut, and put it back on him for the final fitting in the mirror. When he looked up at himself, I saw the first smile I'd seen him make.
It looked perfect on him. I was so proud we could help. But I was even prouder later that night when we saw him down in the hotel lobby, shirtless, wearing the harness....and with his chin held a little bit higher than before.
THAT'S the feeling that I long so hard to share with this community. I'm so happy to serve you all, and I'm so happy to do it with my best friends, brothers, and business partners, Karri Plowman and PupTrigger, as a team.
If you had asked me six months ago if we would be where we are now, I would have said "No". But we did it. It's huge. I can't believe we really went from Zero to IML in six months.