[Hooping.org’s Editor Philo Hagen reflects on Circumference 2012.]
by Philo Hagen
Landing at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, it was already clear that there was something different in the air. For starters, The Big Easy actually named their airport after a beloved hometown jazz trumpeter and singer. While there are other American airports named after flying aces, war heroes and politicians, New Orleans was all about honoring its authenticity. So what better place could there be to host the very first Circumference, an inaugural gathering and marketing event for hooping entrepreneurs, hoop makers, instructors and performers. When I arrived at Beau Sejour and entered the historic three-story monster of a mansion built in 1906, this clearly wasn’t going to be like any hoop gathering I’d ever been to. The grand staircase, the swimming pool, an interior design with a nod to the building’s history, we were clearly in for something new and unexpected. To be asked to participate in the event as the first keynote speaker, I couldn’t help but wonder if there had ever been a keynote speech about hooping before. Thursday evening we all gathered together, introducing ourselves and sharing our expectations for the event, then it was time for me to talk about hooping for more than an hour.
I shared my history with the hoop, as well as the history of hooping itself. We took a collective look at our community and the business side of the circle over the years. We tuned into competition and other siderails and examined our icons to reveal the value in blazing a trail in celebration of our own unique hooping selves. We focused on our very own gifts and style and spin that we bring to the table, no matter who we are. In a movement that is still so very young, there is still so much we do not know and the gift of this is that the possibilities are endless. The future of hooping can be whatever we want it to be.
Afterwards several of us went to the French Quarter where I discovered the wonder of deep fried dill pickles and red beans and rice. The remainder of the weekend included a myriad of classes, like how to carve out a niche in a niche market, the value of creating your ideal customer avatar, how to make your business legal, design an effective website, as well as how to price your product, instruction or performance. Classes covered common business pitfalls, how to ship hoops, contracts and insurance, customer service policies and how to create demand by building a strong local community. A PPE polypro hoop making certification course was also offered, as well as a class on large quantity production. By the end of the weekend attendees knew how to develop press kits and market themselves, had tips for dealing with competition and were well on their way to owning who they are and using it to wow their audience. Instructors Blythe and Rowan TwoSisters, Kinetic Kristen and organizer Lara Eastburn all did a truly amazing job.
[Left to Right from Top: Rowan and Blythe (Houston and Dallas), Kinetic Kristen (Nashville) and Jennette Ginsburg (New Orleans), Rebecca DeShon-Gilbert (Atlanta) and Myself, Amazing Beignets and Coffee with Chicory, Tiffany Johnson (Houston), Brad Pollard (Dallas), Julie Seversin Merritt (New Orleans) and Rachael Clinton (Billings, Montana).]
Less you think it was all about keeping your nose to the grindstone all weekend, however, there was also a great deal of fun to be had. I routinely stayed up late having great conversations with hoopers by the pool. We raced off for fresh, hot beignets covered in powdered sugar at Cafe Du Monde. We wandered Bourbon Street taking in the sights and sounds and grabbed a drink at the oldest bar in North America – Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. We spent many late night hours hooping by the pool and having those conversations with other hoopers that are always incredible. And then, of course, there was the Hula Hoop Parade through the French Quarter where Circumference attendees joined locals for an incredible experience that brought everyone out into the streets, leaving New Orleans talking about hooping for days to come.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.