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February Conference Recap 2013

March 16, 2013

Last month consisted of an amazing whirlwind of events! It’s hard to believe how quickly it all flew by! I meant to blog about everything, but I time kinda slipped through my hands. Better late than never, I suppose!

Here are some highlights:

Victoria Yoga Conference – Feb 1-3, 2013, Victoria, BC

The Victoria Yoga Conference knocked my socks off! It was such an amazingly well-run event. We were part of the Vendor Marketplace, along with some other amazing organizations and companies ( Mala Collective, Lunapads, OneYoga, Downtown Betty, BellyFit and many more!) Special thanks to the BellyFit ladies for being such awesome neighbors, especially after Russ’ iPad got jacked from the car (I won’t get into the details but hopefully Karma will take care of that one day). Despite that unfortunate setback, we met a ton of amazing yogis who were so gracious to share their stories with us. We were really feeling the island love over in Victoria. It was our most successful event to date! We will be there next year for sure! Thanks to Russ for helping me out, and the Maryanne and Roger Done for letting us stay with you!

My lovely partner, Russ and I

InnerFire2-925x1024Doing some Tree pose at my booth

529272_419525621461932_620175626_n1-300x199 307468_419525591461935_1340837196_n-300x269
Photography courtesy of Cortnee Loren Brown Photography
The booth set up in warm sunny lighting

Northwest Yoga Conference – Feb 8-10, 2013, Lynnwood, Washington

Getting to the Northwest Yoga Conference in Lynnwood, WA was a bit of an adventure. I had heard horror stories from friends in bands who had gotten banned from crossing because they didn’t know how to properly bring their merch across. I was fully aware that bringing merchandise from Canada to the US was going to require some serious planning, so I sent a message out to the Facebook universe to see if anyone had any experience in that area. Lo and behold, one of my friends from high school said he deals with cross-border trade for a living. Awesome! He advised me on which forms I needed to fill out and we even sat down weeks beforehand to go through everything. I thought I had it all in the bag.

So some time goes by and I find myself in the week leading up to the event. That week, I was feverishly trying to replenish my stock after returning from the Victoria Yoga Conference. I realized it was the day before I was going to head down to the conference and I hadn’t submitted my paperwork yet. My friend told me that it would be easy enough to fax everything in the day before. I had a feeling that a fax would get lost in the shuffle, so I decided to drive down to the border the day before, just to make sure the forms were all submitted properly. So, I get to the border and go into one of the US Customs buildings. I speak to them with my forms in hand, hoping for the best. They take my forms, I spend a few minutes twiddling my thumbs, an officer comes back telling me that my forms were insufficient and that I would have to go through a broker instead. WHAAAT? You’re saying there is no way for me to self-file a temporary importer application? Crap. So I am then directed to walk across the border lineup to visit one of many brokerage offices at the border.

I go into one and tell my story to the woman working there. She asks me what I’m bringing and I say: “shirts, meditation cushions, bags, things I made myself, promo items, etc.” Then she says flat-out:” You won’t be able to bring anything you made that doesn’t have a manufacturing label with material and country information.” Crap, I thought. I just spent all week sewing those. “Then what CAN I bring to sell?” “Just the shirts.” She says. “Ok, well that’s doable. What about all my exhibition materials? I was told that I didn’t need to declare those.” “Oh, you need to declare everything. Everything has a value.” she says. Then, we proceeded to go through every single item I was bringing with me, including the materials everything was made out of. I had to declare each piece of paper and business card. Seriously. Oh and, I couldn’t bring my wooden hangers. Only plastic is allowed, due to some US anti-dumping law. Great. Gotta buy a whole new set of hangers when I get there. While I was standing there, I had a little moment of weakness and was seriously thinking of calling the whole thing off at that point. But I had Janelle and Barbie helping me out, the hotel booked, the fee paid. I had to go through with it.

I asked her if she was able to get my paperwork processed in less than a day and she said it was possible but it would be tight. I then (reluctantly) dropped $300.00 for the service and proceeded to drive back to Canada, feeling a little defeated.  When I got home, I furiously categorized and counted all my shirts based on fabric composition. I filled out all of her forms and submitted them via fax (which costs $12 if you go to Staples – what a rip off!). Inevitably, I get an email saying I didn’t fill them out properly, so I had to resubmit everything and go to bed hoping that the ‘import gods’ were on my side.

The next morning (Friday) I am feeling anxious and a little in-over my head. I was planning on being at the Conference centre at 4:30pm. I didn’t get the email with the final documents until 1pm. I printed them out and went to pick up Janelle to head down to the border. Everything goes smoothly from there and we finally get IN!! We made it to the conference right in the nick of time. Get get out of the car, turn around, and Barbie just happens to be there! Thank GOD!

The weekend from that point onward was awesome. We met a ton of great people at the conference. My clothes were featured in a fashion show, we had a fun night at Chuck-E-Cheese, we enjoyed some US shenanigans. All in all, totally worth the trouble. Oh but on the way back to Canada, I almost got detained at the border for not having the sufficient paperwork to come back in. Apparently, you’re supposed to stop and check in with the Canadian guys before you go down. No one told me. The border guard was nice enough to take my word for it and let me back in to my own country. Talk about crazy adventure! Here are some pics to prove it!

My amazing helpers for the weekend, Janelle Fontaine and Barbie Levasseur (who came all the way from San Francisco to be there!)

My booth set up at the Northwest Yoga Conference

One of my models from the Fashion show wearing my digs!

San Francisco Yogis Barbie Levasseur and her mentor Les Leventhal, rocking the “I’M SO HAPPY I COULD KRIYA” shirt!

11298_955562653783_1415119721_nBarbie, Janelle and I with Chuck E himself!


Good times at Chuck-E-Cheese!

Thanks for reading!

xo Leah


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