This week's DNC in Philadelphia has us thinking about our roots, and the Denver DNC 8 years ago where we got our start...
First of all, our headline is a little misleading. Gumball Poodle did not launch at the DNC eight years ago. Starting a sock brand wasn't even a consideration then. Eight years ago in Denver, I was just selling what was supposed to be a one-off sock design. But my experiences in Denver, and the incredible success of that one sock style, led me to dream a little bigger (and Gumball Poodle, neé Rock Socks, was launched not quite a year later).
What was that one-off sock? OBAMA. Serendipity or ingenuity led me to make the world's first Presidential knee socks in the summer of 2008, and they arrived from the factory just in time to get to Denver for the DNC.
Below are some of my memories of the DNC, along with the one picture I have from the week...It was pre-smart phones, so no one was snapping selfies or videos on the fly.
2008 DNC, post-acceptance speech with some of the Manifest Hope Gallery crew, L-R: Cori, Dominique, and future Poodle-in-Chief, Erica, rocking the OBAMA knee socks!
The 2008 DNC was very special...not least of all because I got to be part of the Manifest Hope Gallery (immortalized in the book Art for Obama (Abrams Image, 2009)). OBAMA socks were sold in the Gallery gift shop, where I worked as a clerk for one very long, very fun week. Everyone was volunteering, working their tail off (think 16 hour days) and having a great time. There was incredible art, concerts (She and Him and Jenny Lewis come to mind), parties, brushing shoulders with Shepard Fairey and Spike Lee, many of the folks we worked with that week went on to work in the Obama administration. Somewhere in there I was interviewed by The TODAY Show (or maybe it was Good Morning America?).
The day of Obama's acceptance speech Manifest Hope closed early. I stuffed all my remaining sock inventory into a giant duffle bag and hitched a ride with a stranger I met at the Gallery (totally not something I'd normally do!) down to Mile High Stadium. A tremendous, snaking line of folks wrapped through empty lots and grassy parks waiting to get in to the evening's big event. I found a chain link fence running along that waiting line and set up shop, hanging OBAMA socks along the fence. For hours I talked about socks with strangers.
When I sold my last pair of OBAMA socks I high tailed it to the garage where my friends were waiting. My empty duffle bag got stashed in their car and we made our way into the stadium, up to our seats and watched Barack Obama make history.
The rest of that night is a blur...there were parties into the wee hours, and then I was in a car headed to my parents house in northern Colorado. I past out hard when I got there.
Now, looking back, it especially hits me how excited, happy and hopeful everyone was at the 2008 DNC. The energy was electric and it was positive. I am thankful I got to experience it, and I am forever grateful to President Obama for kick-starting my life as an entrepreneur.
--Erica Easley, Founder & President, Gumball Poodle