By Nora Mounce
Packing up for the long drive north from Expo West in Anaheim, Humboldt Made members load their vans and trucks full of brochures, leftover samples, and renewed hope for their growing businesses. After three long days telling their stories and networking with buyers, the crew looks more rejuvenated than you might expect. Dusty and Jonny Miller of Lost Coast Roast arrived to the convention center everyday at 5:45am, yet are still buzzing from the event’s “positive energy” a week later.
Post-event back in Arcata, the Humboldt Made members get together over a pitcher of IGA at Redwood Curtain to compare notes on the event’s successes and identify where to improve. Humboldt Chocolate owner Jonah Ginsburg reports, “It was good to see where your business is at,” amongst the huge marketplace of Expo West. This year, most of the Humboldt Made members were able to set-up shop next to one another, creating a strong branding message as a unified “Humboldt row” front. Natural Decadence and Diane’s Sweet Heat didn’t waste time taking advantage of their neighboring booths - as Natural Decadence cranked out gluten-free pizzas from their portable pizza oven, every other one was topped with Cypress Grove chevre and Diane’s Sweet Heat Raspberry Habanero Jam. “People loved it!” Diane Hunt reports. With her entire family taking turns behind her booth this year, Hunt says, “People took us more seriously.” Back in Humboldt, Hunt has plans to expand into her own commercial kitchen in Arcata within the year.
Humboldt Made Executive Director Alanna Jane Powell reports that, “Everything went fantastic,” for the ambassadors of the redwood empire. Expo West is the largest natural products show in the world and in 2016, a record 77,000 people attended. Humboldt Made is one the few, if only, organizations attending as a non-profit that represents a regional business collaborative. “At first people weren’t sure what Humboldt Made was, but then they got jazzed,” says Powell. The cooperative efforts of the twelve businesses that traveled to Anaheim created a dynamic team at Expo West, with business owners like Rosa Dixon of Natural Decadence, chauffeuring buyers directly to the booths of her Humboldt Made cohorts. Being able to collectively network and introduce business contacts to one another gave Humboldt Made members a huge marketing advantage on their competitors.
Back at home, the bakers, coffee roasters, and farmers share list their lists of new contacts and get together to start planning for Expo West 2017. Up ext for Humboldt Made is the annual Buyer’s Tour, where buyers will travel to Humboldt County to experience the beauty of our region and see business in action. Humboldt Made members will have the opportunity to give facility tours and educate buyers about the unique Humboldt Made products and services crafted behind the redwood curtain.