August. The month that New York City completely clears out making almost everyday feel like Christmas. The month where entire industries take vacations, such as therapists escaping to the Berkshires or Hamptons. The month where the majority of people take a 31 day long inhale before the school-year hustle and bustle kicks back in. For us, August is exactly the opposite...and as much as I dread, fear and get exhausted just thinking about it - I love it so much.
When Jacq and I started Camp POWER in 2009, we never imagined layering on our own company whose busiest time would also land in August. Never anticipated that as 5, 55 passenger buses were rolling up to Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania to drop off 200 kids for a week, millions of people around the world would simultaneously be flooding the internet searching for their child's new school backpack. It just kinda happened this way, and despite the craziness, every year we've somehow managed to get through it.
To shed some light on just how intense things have gotten in the month of August, here's a story that perfectly sums it up:
In the summer of 2014, we were approached by Beyonce's team about a back to school activation. It was insanely exciting for us, but stressful at the same time as the partnership required a ton of work and us questioning whether we could actually pull it off. On top of that, Jacq was 8 months pregnant. One day we were called into Beyonce's office to shoot a video, talking about the partnership and initiative of putting on bag drops across the east coast for communities in need. Being on a video that could potentially be seen by Beyonce's entire fan base was not something that Jacq jumped to while being "very pregnant." Her words by the way. But...she got roped in anyway, and halfway through the shoot, started having contractions on camera. She played it off as if nothing was wrong, and then as soon as we cut, me, and two of Beyonce's team members were pretty much carrying her to the elevator. We made it home and I put her on the luggage cart just to get her from the car to the door. It was nuts. And it didn't stop there.
Our son, Ozzie was born at 7:11 am on August 11th. At 12 pm the same day, the press release dropped about our Beyonce partnership. I remember holding my 1 hour old son, posting a picture and announcing him to the world, and then sharing the press release on my Facebook page 4 hours later with the caption, "Officially the biggest day of my life!"
Friends and family packed the room to see the new baby while I fielded calls from the press. It was crazy, but luckily, Jacq was cool with it...one of those moments where it's actually perfect to work with your wife!
Although no babies were on the way this August, it was definitely our busiest month ever. A growing business with 70 more products than we had a year ago, a back to school partnership with Roc Nation and the White House, and more enrolled campers than ever at Camp POWER 2016. Everyday felt busier than the day before it, but we officially, yet again, got through it.
This post certainly isn't about searching for sympathy or a pat on the back, but now that August is officially in the rear view, Jacq and I want to thank those who helped us not only get through it, but dominate it.
Our STATE Squad who have worked tirelessly all summer to absolutely crush our back to school season. Sacrificing summer Fridays, serving as point people in sweaty school gyms, auditoriums and courtyards at the countless bag drops we've hosted this summer, and continuing to never lose sight of the prize...create great looking, functional product to market and sell, so we can then donate more and more to local kids in need.
To our retail, collaboration and charitable partners who continuously believe in our brand. We're so appreciative of all the people who are helping to make STATE a household name by either selling us in their stores, telling our story to their wide audiences and opening doors to support the kids they serve.
To our customers who decided that STATE would be their new go-to brand. Your supportive emails, cool, adorable social media posts, and willingness to spread the word to friends and family does not go unnoticed. You have proven to us that companies can and should be focused on more than just the bottom line. The way both our product and mission have resonated with you all is truly humbling, and we're going to hustle everyday to make both our product and give back model even stronger and more impactful.
To the Camp POWER Family that define selflessness and inspiration. Leading up to the third week of August every summer is always insanely stressful, but once the staff and campers arrive, it serves as the perfect reminder as to why we do what we do. Staff take their vacations from work to be there - some even volunteer - they sleep in bunks on twin beds, they paint their faces, they wear tutus, they laugh, they cry, and they truly change lives. You all are Camp POWER.
As back to school season slowly winds down, we take a short breath, collectively look down the road to holiday 2016, Spring and Summer 2017, and then...bring on August. We may fear you, but trust us when we say that we'll be ready for you!