This past weekend was the Chicago Gluten Free Allergy Free Expo. This was my first time attending as anything other than a volunteer. In the week (!) leading up to the Expo, I was asked if I would be willing to dress up as a superhero to promote a T-Shirt company. Considering I used to dress up for work (and still do for theatre), having the opportunity to create my own character was something I jumped at! I have to send big thanks to the staff at both Ragstock and Beatnix Clothing for helping me figure out the pieces.
Since I am a geek, I even started putting together a back story for her. The only reason I am not sharing it, is because I am playing with ideas to grow with it and maybe turn it into a comic. How cool is that?? Just need to talk to some people, but I had it in my mind.
I took to my Facebook page and to Twitter to try to come up with a name. I knew the shirt had a big “GF” on it, so I thought the name should have that as well. Laura, who writes tweets for Taste Guru and is a fantastic blogger in her own right, gave me a bunch of suggestions based on the article she was editing including “Sorghum Siren.” I love alliteration and creativity that comes when you are working on something new.
Anyway, Saturday morning came and I got suited up and headed to the booth.
To say I did not know what to expect would be an understatement. My thinking was that no one was going to want to meet a character they did not know. And considering I could not even remember the name I came up with (Glutonazon), my thought was that it was going to be a LOOOONG 7 hours!
I was wrong. It started out a little slow, because the booth was near the center back of the expo hall and there was not a lot of business, but then I started wandering. My favorite moment of the day actually occurred during that first pass through the hall. There was a boy of about 4 there with his parents, who were manning a booth. He saw me and immediately told his father he wanted a shirt like mine. I took him by the hand and we headed to the booth where he immediately started wearing his shirt before his dad even PAID for it! It made me smile and made my heart happy. The next day his mom told me he put it on again as soon as he got up. **Happy Moment**
The rest of the day was taking pictures with people, including 4 ladies from the Notre Dame GIG group, coming up with a motto (“Fighting Hidden Gluten One Crumb at a Time”), taking more pictures, walking, trying a couple of products (more later), enjoying conversations with vendors and guests, and being pulled into booths for pictures. I learned a lesson that will be valuable moving forward. This character is a brand. She is someone I love with a message I am passionate about. Moving forward, before I take a picture in any booth, with any merchandise, or with any logo, I will be 100% sure that I love and support the brand. It was very flattering but I know there is at least one picture out there with me in the booth of a product I do not like/enjoy/support. Lesson. Learned.
I’m going to fix a couple of things and I hope that She-Liac appears at more GF events in the future.