It takes a village (of sailors)

12° West women's sailing gear booth at Annapolis Boat Show

It takes a village (of sailors)

In the infamous words of Hillary Clinton, it takes a village to raise a child. I’ve found this is also true for starting a new company. And last weekend I learned that it takes a village (of sailors!) to have a successful boat show.

On April 24, 12° West made our official debut at the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show. It was – thanks to many, many people – a success. Of course, leading up to the event were a multitude of decisions, lists, phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, proofs, errands, mishaps and u-turns. But that’s part of the fun, right?

My best laid plans were to leave New York early on Thursday to arrive in Annapolis with plenty of time for set up. Late in the game, the person who had offered to drive couldn’t make it due to a family emergency, so another friend rearranged her schedule to help. She showed up at my apartment bright and early, delicious breakfast sandwiches in hand, and proceeded to help make 4 trips up and down in the elevator to load everything in the rented van. Off we went, through the Holland Tunnel and onto the Jersey Turnpike. Except we missed the exit.

Back on track, we stopped at a Target outside of Baltimore to buy a full length mirror (forgotten in the loading frenzy) and finally made it to Annapolis. My friend recruited another person, a lovely woman I met for the first time, to help unload the obscene amount of stuff for the booth. Yes, someone I didn’t even know showed up to be a pack mule, just because her friend said I needed help. Then Laura Cleminson – the owner of Hoist Away Bags who was in the booth next to me – stayed until 7pm that evening to help set up.

Another contingent of friends came down the next day to help work the booth for the weekend. If you were there, you know that it was an unusually cold and windy spring weekend in Annapolis. It was, to put it mildly, FREEZING in the booth. My friends scoured all of Annapolis and found the last space heater in town. That little heater made all the difference!

All in all, about 15 sailor friends came to Annapolis from New York to show their support. I never had time to get tired, because someone was always popping into the booth with a new burst of energy and enthusiasm. On Saturday night, my friends cooked a big steak dinner and kept the wine and rum flowing all evening. We sat by the fireplace in the kitchen of our rented house and told sailing stories. It was lovely.

On Sunday morning the sun shone brightly and the air was slightly warmer. But when I stepped into the booth, my feet sank into a half inch of water. It had rained overnight and my booth was flooded. The amazing folks across the aisle immediately sprang into action. Ken Hoover from Porta-Bote and J.D. Olienyk from Chesapeake Harbour Marina used the oars from Ken’s very cool folding boat to squeegee all the water out of my carpet. Without my even asking.

Best of all, I got to meet so many new sailors and see their reactions to 12° West. I never doubted there was a need for high-quality, functional and stylish women’s sailing gear – but seeing these ladies get so excited about our line was truly gratifying. The sailing skort was an especially big hit!

So, thank you to the amazing village of sailors and friends, old and new, who made the weekend a success. The experience validated once again what I’ve always known: sailing people are good people. And I’m glad they’re my people!