EXPO WEST 2015 by Taylor Collins

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Every March the EPIC crew migrates to Anaheim California to attend the mighty Natural Products Expo West. This trade show is considered the "super bowl" of natural foods events and attracts over 100,000 people to the Anaheim Convention Center. Because of its reputation of greatness, many companies like EPIC synchronize innovation calendars and new product launches to coincide with the show.

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Upon arrival, the first duty of business involves building the EPIC booth. We take this very seriously and have won an imaginary "best booth award" 2 years in a row. This years booth inspiration was a combination of Katie's favorite store on earth (Anthropologie) and Taylor's dream cabin. We put months into the planning and creative process for our Expo West booth and each item is hand picked by Katie and I.

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The booth walls were built from 150 year old barn wood salvaged from different estates in the Texas Hill Country. Where most booths rely on printed fabrics and banners, the EPIC booth is created from rugged materials with character and history. The weight of our booth was an impressive 2,000 pounds! This wreaked havoc on both our pallet as well as Sarah's favorite finger.

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Painstaking attention to detail combined with the materialization of our vision is both exciting and exhausting. This years booth took us over 8 hours to build and by the time it was said and done we were both hungry and angry. When combined, these two emotions cause Katie to become hangry (as seen in the above photo). Good thing we had fresh avocados and ceviche planned for dinner.

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To escape the madness of Anaheim and replenish our own vigor, we opt to rent a home in neighboring Dana Point. This small community is best known for its annual whale festival, massive harbor, and tranquil surf scene. Using the house as a base camp, we are able to get in early morning runs, enjoy the beach, and eat breakfast overlooking the ocean. Its a fantastic tradition that we continue every year we migrate to California.

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After a good nights rest and an early morning workout, we returned to Anaheim for day 1 of Expo West. The EPIC booth looked better than I remembered and solidified our victory for "best booth award" 3 years in a row!

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Lucky for us, our next door neighbor happens to be an architect with a background in steel construction. When I asked Derek if he could help us cut mammoth EPIC letters from metal, he executed like a champion! The letters displayed in our booth were cut from 1/4'' steel and backed with a topographic map of the Barton Hills Greenbelt (our favorite trail in Austin, TX). Each monster letter weighs around 20 pounds!

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The beautiful custom table in our booth was built from a local woodsman and good friend of mine, Brian Allen-Aguilar. Brian owns a company in Austin called Eagles Nest Artistry and eats between 8-10 EPIC bars/day. Before I knew Brian, he would send us emails with photos of him high atop mountains eating EPIC bars. It was only a matter of time before we would become BFF and he would build us a table. Brian an I unearthed some incredible 130 year old long leaf pine that had been reclaimed from an old cabin frame and the end result was this breath taking beauty!

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As with all EPIC booths, taxidermy is a must! This year we opted for smaller animals than previous years and wound up with an amazing fox and a bobcat! The bobcat was Katie's spirit animal during the show and provided us all the power and stamina to dominate.

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The show was utter madness! For 3 days straight, we met with existing customers, new customers, press, and everyone else who wanted to eat EPIC. There was a constant traffic jam in from of the EPIC booth and sometimes I felt like we needed a police officer to direct people. EPIC launched at Expo West 2 years ago, and each year has been even crazier than before. Since our launch, we have seen a clear shift in consumers understanding of what EPIC stands for as well as a greater appreciation for high quality animal protein. Its very rewarding to reflect upon, and direct consumer interaction fans our flames for continued excellence!

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We launched 5 brand new EPIC bars to the world at Expo West! The new bar flavors include Chicken Sesame BBQ, Beef Apple Bacon, Pulled Pork Pineapple, Chicken Sriracha, and the Bacon bar! The excitement of these new products kept consumers coming back to our booth every few hours for a refuel. My favorite new bar is the Beef Apple Bacon, Katie's is the Pulled Pork Pineapple, Martha's is the Chicken Sesame BBQ, Sarah's is the Bacon Bar, and Robby's is the Chicken Sriracha. Much like the division of favorites amongst our own team, there was no clear favorite with consumers! Our second generation of EPIC bars are by far the best tasting and best received product we have ever launched. The overwhelming positive response from show attendees is only a glimpse of what is to come once these bars enter the market!

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Along with our new flavors of EPIC bars, we debuted the brand new EPIC bites line! The EPIC bites are a sharable and resealable jerky snack that represents a bold innovation in how consumers understand jerky. Our 4 maiden flavors include: Bison Bacon Chia, Chicken Sesame BBQ, Bacon, and Beef Cranberry Sriracha. The bites appeal to a broader group of consumers compared to the bars, and the feedback we received was nothing short of EPIC!

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After 3 days of EPIC domination at Expo West we ended the show with exciting new accounts, new partners, new press contacts, and best of all, raging excitement on the brand new EPIC products!

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Ill drink some Golden Coast Mead (aka Viking Fuel) to celebrate another wonderful year at Expo West. You can count on us being back again next year!

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