by Bobby Hundreds
photography by Bobby and Brecht Van't Hof
Just got back from a week in Hawaii with five other women’s brand founders. Organized by Richer Poorer under the theme of “Just More,” the trip stemmed from the idea that "In an industry that can oftentimes feel isolating, we think our competition might actually be our great untested allies.”
They were right. I joined Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Ice Cream, Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate, Jen Gotch of Bando, Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett, and Iva Pawling of Richer Poorer in Oahu in an unprecedented convergence of ideas, support, and collaboration. Having built Jennifer as a platform for women, this trip provided a greater opportunity to gain perspective. From experience running ice cream shops to the gift space, conferences to apparel, there was so many angles, so much insight, that opened my eyes to new solutions for my work and career.
The Hundreds Hawaii ambassador Brian Silva guided us this week. Since this was the first time on the island for some of the women, we partook in the obligatory touristy stuff (snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Island Snow shave ice) and the local (hidden beaches, North Shore fruit stands).
Brian led us on a secret hike up to the ice pool and a waterfall (that was just out of reach)...
We stayed at the Surfjack, one of the rundown Waikiki motels that's been renovated into a young, hipster haven - Instagrammable swimming pool and all. This is how Jen Gotch and Ellen Bennett dressed to impress on the flight in. Gangster.
It was amazing to be surrounded by powerful and intelligent females throughout the trip, but thank God for my dudes I could bro out with. My roomie Brecht filmed the trip (video coming soon) and photographed half of the shots in this story.
Ellen has this mantra that I now live by. "Wake up and fight!" Her energy - her enthusiasm for work and life - are infectious.
We capped off one of the afternoons at Pipeline (and Backdoor). It turned out to be picture-perfect conditions and all the legendary big dogs were out, like John John. I sat on the beach with Iva of Richer Poorer and talked religion to revenue. Through trips like these - away from tradeshow halls and conference rooms - and conversations that exist outside of spreadsheets and email - we've built a trust that we use to inform each other's business. The future of industry is cross-pollination. Brands can't think within the walls of tradition anymore. It's the flow of ideas across sectors and markets that spawn the ultimate collaboration - the next and the new.
My favorite grinds on Oahu aren't Leonard's malasadas, the guava pancakes at Cinnamon's, or even Helena's short ribs. It's the poke in the back of the Kahuku Superette market. Hands-down the SECOND best poke in the world.
As Hawaii gets more crowded and tourist-stricken, the lines between locals and visitors grow bolder. Out of respect for the neighborhood, we didn't shuttle out to Oahu's most famous beach, Lanikai. We had no qualms with bicycling in like the Japanese girls do.
This was our favorite beach day, and I'll keep the location under wraps. Hawaii is truly a magical place.
On our last night in Hawaii, the Surfjack Hotel hosted a panel featuring all of us for the Honolulu entrepreneurial crowd. Although not a founder, Arianna (Create & Cultivate) was our moderator and - in my opinion - gave some of the most insightful advice!
I felt like a part of the audience, listening to the women onstage next to me - my new best friends - speak and 'talk story' about their businesses.
I want to be all of them when I grow up.
Jeni shared wisdom as an employer of 800, and running 29 ice cream parlors. Somehow she still finds time to be a mom, write books, and travel. I don't think I'll ever catch up to her, but I hope to find her composure and attitude in the future.
Jaclyn Johnson, Create & Cultivate's founder, was also compelling to listen to. Some of my trip's highlights stemmed from picking Jackie's brain about running conferences and agencies. Nobody works harder than Jackie, and she sincerely loves her business. It shows in the results.
Before my flight out, stopping for lunch at Teddy's Burgers. Jen and Ari are premiering our new Jennifer T-shirts. NOW FOR SALE.
Thank you, ladies. You have the strength of a thousand men and the success to back it. I was blown away by your ethic and tenacity. You take care of each other, you share, and support, in a way that most guys can learn from. Empathy - I coveted this asset of yours most. Many of you aren't running one business, but multiple - and crushing 'em all. You're mothers, best-selling authors, social media mavens, and above all, leaders. Watching you do it, I am reminded that I can do it too.
The ever-curious Jen Gotch, childlike in wonder, drinking in Hawaii's final sundrops.