the making of a toe-to-toe tour
why a toe-to-toe tour?Everyone knows the feeling of snuggling up in your favorite cozy socks at home after a long day. We spent over a year with a goal of bringing that comforting feeling to families during their hospital stays, and this fall we’re finally ready to share our toe-to-toe collection. From October 2nd through January 13th, we’re on the road hosting pop-up stores in major cities and empowering customers to support children within their community. When you buy a pair, resilience gives a pair to a child battling cancer in a nearby hospital. Following each pop-up store, we’re hand-delivering these donations to families who need it. This week, we wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at the steps it took to prepare for our first pop-up store and donation in Chicago, IL.
behind the launch of our toe-to-toe tour:step 1: plan, plan...and plan some more
Imagine building a website, donating thousands of socks, running a mobile storefront, and driving over 11,500 miles. Now imagine it while living in a 23 ft trailer. Prior to departure, we did as much as possible to lighten the load, and along the way, we hit a point where tasks are sorted as either “things helpful to accomplish” or “things we absolutely must get done.” Inevitably, there’s a lingering thought of how much more we’d accomplish with just one more week, one more day, or even one more hour, but eventually you have to bring rubber to road. We had the Airstream, cozy socks, Google Maps, and most importantly our mission. Everything else would come together, right?
step 2: pick up the tow truck!
Knowing we'd be towing the Airstream full of inventory and pop-up furniture for over 11,500 miles, we needed a dependable truck. After locating a good rental deal on a 2019 Ram 2500, we flew down to Tennessee to pick-up the tow truck.
step 3: Knoxville, TN --> Los Angeles, CA
We loved the classic look of the Airstream and the idea of saving hotel costs, but didn’t need the trailer after the tour. Through Outdoorsy, an online rental service for RVs and trailers, we were able to rent a 2018 Airstream within our budget from an independent travel enthusiast! (Shoutout to Ryan for being super helpful and easygoing!) Behind the wheel of the Ram 2500, we began the trip by logging 2200 miles from eastern Tennessee to Los Angeles, California to pick up the Airstream.
step 4: give the Airstream a makeover
We’re in the business of socks, and our Airstream had to dress the part. Exotic Car Wraps worked with us on a one-of-a-kind custom vinyl wrap. With the Airstream wrapped, we went to work setting up internet and getting it washed (which turned out to be more challenging than expected). Over the five days of prep work, we were parked side by side with a homeless man’s encampment. Alex was an awesome neighbor and helped us keep unwanted visitors out of the downtown lot.
step 5: fuel up!
The route from LA to Chicago took over 30 hours and we needed fuel for both the truck and ourselves! We made a Costco run to pick up trail mix, RX bars, crackers, and figs...2.5 lbs of figs (which we devoured in under two days). While we were burning through snacks, the truck was burning through gas. We refilled the tank 22 times during our road trip, averaging 10.2 miles per gallon. Most stops were pretty uneventful, but we'll never forget one in Utah when we sold our first pair of toe-to-toe socks! A woman was curious about our sock-wrapped Airstream, and once we told her about our mission she insisted on being the first customer (even though we didn’t have any properly packaged).
step 6: visit Iowa’s biggest (and chilliest) truck stop
After opening the windows at a rest stop for some fresh air, we took off in a hurry and forgot to lock one of them in place. Two hours later during a bathroom break, we noticed one of the windows was missing. Windy, cold, and nearly midnight in the middle of Iowa, our best option for sleep was a nearby truck stop. The solar panels hadn’t stored up much energy during the day, which meant in addition to an open window, the trailer wouldn’t have heat. After our trash bag replacement proved no match for the Iowa wind, we were up at 3:45 AM to make the final stretch into Illinois.
step 7: find and replace the window
To our dismay, we quickly learned curved Airstream windows were a highlighly specialized product that no RV dealer carried in stock nor was something your local auto repair shop could fix. After ordering one directly from the manufacturer, Jake stood in a Target shopping cart installing the new window. Airstream: 1, Lexi and Jake: 0.
a few departing thoughts
We began this tour with tremendous excitement to launch a product we truly believe in, and a few weeks later, the excitement has continued to grow. Nonetheless, if we needed anything to ground our starry-eyed vision, there’s nothing quite like that frigid Iowa truck-stop air at 3:45 AM. As two cancer survivors building a brand around resilience, it’s only fitting we have to demonstrate some along the way.