A few weeks ago, we opened shop for the first time. It was an emotional experience. For the first time, real people outside our fold were seeing our trailer, hearing the story and buying our shirts. Our opening was the culmination of two years of concepting the ideas and 9 months of hard work. And it was better than I could have ever imagined.
The idea for our traveling showcase came to me as I grappled with how to sell products focused on place without having stores. How could a brand exist anywhere, but only be accessible when you’re in a specific, magical place? I realized that having a pure digital company like this out of the gate wasn’t going to work. I needed a physical way for people to understand what Black Pot is about.
I didn’t just want to fill any space with products. I wanted to create a unique, mobile way to look at places we love and invite people inside to experience it. And I wanted to have a first person relationship with customers, to tell our story directly.
And then my wife Felicity had a great idea: “Why don’t you use a food truck to sell your shirts?”
Of course! A truck could move anywhere. It could blend into amazing places like Times Square or Sedona. It could be a trademark. I started sketching what I thought this experience could look like. I knew I couldn’t do this without designing the truck myself.
And so began my quest. I scoured Pinterest, Houzz and the rest of the web for inspiration. I looked at shipping containers and photos I took in Bali of the amazing modern buildings that blended wood, glass and the world around them. I studied tiny homes and modern designs. Then one day the design hit me: a half glass, half metal trailer that would fit in anywhere and tell the story of our brand. Below are the initial sketches.
All I had to do was find a builder. Easy enough, right? One contractor looked at my drawing and said, “This is going to be expensive. Do you really want to make this with glass?” I was a bit discouraged, but kept searching... until I met Seth Botkin. He saw my drawing and immediately proceeded to make all sorts of suggestions for materials, doors, the roof, etc. “I’d love to build this for you,” he told me.
From my early sketches and his ideas, Seth created a perfect architectural map, with every single piece perfectly laid out and measured for size. I just had to order all the materials — wood, aluminum and glass (polycarbonate, actually). Or so I thought.
Finding a place to build the trailer was another chore. We finally secured “temporary” space outdoors with no electricity or cover, where Seth and his brother Daniel set up shop in pouring rain. They began milling each piece of wood to perfect sizes, a process they called “ripping.” The rain kept falling. I was nervous, but not Daniel and Seth.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be great,” they told me. By my count, there were 54 pieces of wood that needed stain and two coats of varnish, with sanding in between. Who was going to do this?
Seth and Daniel agreed on the perfect person: ME! Seth brought over what felt like hundreds of two by fours, along with two saw horses, a vacuum cleaner, a brush and a few sheets of sandpaper. I turned my garage into a finishing shop. I worked at night with the door and small window cracked open and two fans for air. I listened to every Bruce Springsteen album, Waylon Jennings and a ton of ‘80s new wave. I’d go to bed with swollen hands stained with varnish that never seemed to come off, no matter how many times I showered. Day after day, the boards kept coming and I kept at it. Three weeks and 80 hours of work later, Seth brought me the last stack of trim boards.
The trailer itself came together pretty quickly. Seth and Daniel fit the boards together like Legos. By the end of the first day, it was a structure. A week later, it was done and had exceeded my expectations in every way.
My daughter Mia told me if Black Pot doesn’t work out she’d like to live in the trailer. I feel the same. It invites you in to look at the world around you in a setting that feels simple, cool and modern. It’s our Black Pot story, and I can’t wait for you to experience it.