Category Archives: Travel log

Sactionals: Couch of 1003 Uses

Amongst my absolute favorite days at Lovesac are new store Grand Openings. San Francisco Center is at the heart of downtown SF, right near Union Square. We’ve searched for the right location in the area for years and finally got to put a brand new Lovesac Store in the heart of the bay area. Come along via video to experience the lines and the excitement of a Lovesac Grand Opening event….and meet Eric. Eric is a Lovesac super-fan that showed up to wish us well and tell us his unique appreciation for Sactionals. 

From my vlog…

 

Line up for Lovesac

San Francisco Center brings out the Lovesac loyalists

San Francisco Center Lovesac

Lovesac loyalists line up through the mall for a store grand opening

Sactionals Shopping

Always time to choose from our 300 plus fabrics

I am so grateful to Eric, and to the hundreds of other customers that made our Lovesac Grand Opening event in San Francisco one for the record books. I am always so humbled to meet so many fans and supporters–especially to hear their stories and the unpredictable ways that Lovesac seems to make life better for people. There are few times where I have more fun. 

Thank you!

— Shawn 

The Couch Life of a Modern Jacques Cousteau

But what if I fail?

That question is one of the biggest obstacles we face in our lives. That fear of not being good enough or smart enough or strong enough suffocates us and stomps out our ability to achieve our dreams. As children, we had high hopes and extreme visions for what we would do with our lives. Some of us wanted to be astronauts. Others wanted to be chefs, or doctors, or dog trainers. But at some point, out of fear of the unknown, many of us abandon our dreams and opt for something more “secure”. Instead of shooting for the stars, we decide to take the safer path in order to avoid the risk of falling up short.

On a recent Lovesac business trip to Salt Lake City I sat down with Brent Andersen, the founder of the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. After talking with Brent for a few minutes, I quickly realized he was not one of those people who took the safe road in life. Brent spent his childhood couch life being deeply inspired by  Jacques Cousteau and his underwater adventures. He created a strategy to build a chain of aquariums and a research vessel. His purpose: to help educate the world on our fragile ecosystem, with the notion that: “We are all connected,” and that we need to understand that.

Two entrepreneurs for the price of one.

Brent Andersen and myself at the Living Planet Aquarium in Utah.

Brent is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. Even in the face of every possible adversity, he pushed forward to achieve his ultimate vision.  As an entrepreneur Brent shared four things that were key to his ultimate success. 1. Think big 2. Persevere, no matter the cost. 3. Surround yourself with smart people, and other entrepreneurs. 4. Once you arrive, keep going.

His next step? Hopefully to take his dream to the next level, building more aquariums, and linking them with a network of exploratory ocean vessels roaming the world making new discoveries. Sound too ambitious? Too fantastic? It is. And that’s why I love this guy. The next Jacques Cousteau, and an inspiration to us all.

–Shawny
Founder, LOVESAC

 

The Lovesac Tour Bus for $1

Goodbyes are never easy. In the case of the 1998 Gulf Stream F5 Tour Bus used for our promotional tours in the first years of this millennium, saying goodbye will be extremely tough. In an effort to focus funds on brand expansion, we’re auctioning off the vehicle which saw coast-to-coast trips throughout the early 2000’s as the brand was built. The auction started at $1 (although it’s gone up a little since then) and there’s no reserve set- it has to go! The list of celebrity visits, near-death experiences, and straight-up lunacy that occurred on this bus is extensive, some of which can be seen on the Lovesac Bus Blog. For those of you who are like me and don’t like prancing around the Internet, here is a list of my most memorable moments from the Lovesac Tour Bus:

What a beauty!

The Lovesac Tour Bus

5. The Trip to Huntington Beach

Each year in the early years of Lovesac, it was a tradition for me to personally visit each and every store across the country. Once we acquired the bus, I decided to just start driving it on these cross-country tours. Most of the tours ended in Huntington Beach, California, where I actually lived for a short time in 2002. Surfing the Pacific Ocean is something I’ll never forget.

The Pacific Ocean is beautiful!

Surfing at Huntington Beach

4. Safe Driving Techniques

Much of the fun we had with the Lovesac bus came just from actually driving the bus. We tried our best to follow all posted speed limits and traffic laws, but it didn’t always work out as planned. One night we rolled upon an iced-over, vacant lot in Omaha, Nebraska, and a little bit of madness ensued- resulting in the Director of Retail who was filming nearby almost getting run over by the gargantuan rear-end of the spinning bus.

3.  MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice Reunion Concert

In 2009, it was someone’s twisted idea to get MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice to reunite for a 90’s concert in Salt Lake City. We’re not going to mention any names, but someone at Lovesac decided it would be a good idea to sponsor the event. So for a couple days in March of 2009, the touring Lovesac crew hung around with Mr. “Too Legit to Quit” himself on and off the bus and witnessed a whole bunch of Hammer Time.

Hammer Time!

MC Hammer and the Lovesac Bus

2. Winter X-Games Taxi Service

During the 2009 Winter X-Games in Aspen, Colorado, Lovesac was doing various promotional events in the areas surrounding the annual action sports extravaganza. These events required the Lovesac bus driving from the nearby village to the contest itself. At one point we thought it would be nice to help taxi some of the people walking and trying to get to the same destination as us. At one point we had over 50 people on the bus, disco light spinning, and the music blasting. Being at Winter X was definitely a memorable point for a lot of the Lovesac crew- and the bus made that possible.

1. Jessie James Tour Transport

During the rise of pop star Jessie James, we teamed up with Def Jam and used the Lovesac Bus to get her around the country for various shows and interviews. We zig-zagged our way across the southeast starting in Houston, going as far down south as Miami and finally finishing in our Country’s capital. The tour was packed full of radio station visits, performances, Impromptu Lovesac Lounges, pranks, great food, stories and lots of laughter. Easily one of my favorite moments on the Lovesac Bus.

Jessie James on a Sac!

Jessie James on the Tour Bus Sac

The people we met and the places we saw while touring the country on this bus are memories that will last a lifetime. The bus itself is fully-loaded in every way imaginable, from thousands of dollars worth of electronics to Sactionals, Sacs, and pillows- even the motorized disco ball is still hanging in there! Read more about the eBay auction for the Lovesac bus by clicking here. Good luck to everyone bidding, and to the winner- take care of our bus, it helped us become the beloved brand that we are today!

Look at that shag carpet!

The inside of the Lovesac bus

– Shawny

Couch Life: Race Car Mom

During a recent Lovesac business trip to Las Vegas, I happened upon a new friend by the name of Cathy Bunney. Cathy was kind enough to invite me into her home and tell me a little bit about her life on a couch. Surprisingly she also let me in on some stories from her past as a race car driver- and a little bit about an accident that changed the course of her life forever.

In the time I spent with Cathy on her couch in her modest Nevada home, I was once again reminded of the unifying lifestyle we all share on a couch. She told me about how her couch acted as a place of healing after her surgeries and how her family congregated there to watch television together. We sat around on that same couch as she showed me pictures of the cars that she raced to victory- and the trophies she now holds as a result.

Cathy Bunney and I on her couch in Las Vegas.

Cathy Bunney and I on her couch in Las Vegas.

Cathy’s story, like the other episodes in this series, is uniquely different and strikingly similar at the same time. Although everyone’s life on a couch is unique when looked at on its own, all of the stories share a common theme of love and togetherness, solace and relaxation. As Cathy says at the end of the interview “There’s nothing like a comfortable couch to come home to.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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–Shawny

Top 10 Furniture Designs from Neocon

‘Tis the season for design shows! The most innovative furniture designs and advances in interior design and architecture practices can be found each year at Neocon at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. With a particular focus on commercial design–from hotels to office space–Neocon is where the big launches in fabric, upholstery, seating, tables, desks and beyond are unveiled to the public. Its like the CES of furniture!

Here are my personal top 10 couch, chair, or seating design picks from Neocon 2014…

No. 10 best design at Neocon 2014

Steelcase Office Couch

The Convo Dome (my name) by Steelcase

No. 9 best design at Neocon 2014

 

Rolling Wing Back

Not sure how to feel about this one–but it is certainly a conversation piece. Call it the “Wheeled Wingback” !?

No. 8 best design at Neocon 2014

Spaceport Couch

Long and slender–couldn’t help but look

No. 7 best design at Neocon 2014

In Bloom (my name) by Haworth

The possibilities for functional accessories along with the proportions of this piece from Haworth  make it a standout

No. 6 best design at Neocon 2014

Tail Fin (my name) by Haworth

Ready for takeoff – Haworth

No. 5 best design at Neocon 2014

Love the height, love the fabric, love the color, love the design

Love the height, love the fabric, love the color, love the design

No. 4 best design at Neocon 2014

Design is a Choice

One of those rooms that just makes you want to sit down there

No. 3 best design at Neocon 2014

Concentration Space by Steelcase

I could get some work done in here

No. 2 best design at Neocon 2014

Lovesac Conference Table by Keilhaur

Just add Lovesacs to this 16″ high conference table by Keilhaur (Their low chairs weren’t very comfortable)

NUMBER 1 best design at Neocon 2014

High Back Pit

Inspiration for our new Sactionals rich Lovesac HQ, coming fall of 2014

I love a good design show. Neocon is as good as it gets. Let me know which one is your favorite in the comments, below.

— Shawny

Rock Festivals: Do I Even Have to Leave My Couch?

With concert feeds available on demand right from your phone, tablet or TV, what’s keeping you from just watching a festival from home?  [Guest contributor: Michael Majlak]

Boston Calling Festival Red Stage

Boston Calling festival stage

This weekend I left the comfort of my fluffy couch and trekked with a group of friends to the Boston Calling Festival in the heart of Beantown. The festival has bloomed into a massive event in the three years since it started, mainly because of its unique location in City Hall Plaza and its ability to pull massive artists and infamous food options. This year’s festival would be headlined by Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, and Modest Mouse, and would be catered by some of Boston’s legendary food vendors.

It had been years since I had been to a real festival. But upon walking up the concrete steps and entering upon the red-brick of City Hall Plaza, I immediately noticed some of the staples I had been so used to seeing. You had the company reps handing out free granola samples and various swag. There were the free-spirited hippies spinning hula hoops around their waist and of course the four or five people who sported their trusty tie-dye tee and corduroy pants. Then there were the lines. There were lines for merch, lines for food, lines for beer, and lines to use the most-dreaded of all things- the festival porta-potty.

Boston Calling Festival Blue Stage

Boston Calling festival grounds

Even with all the usual suspects, sights, and sounds of the modern music festival, one thing immediately caught my attention. There was one thing added to the equation. This “intruder” I speak of most likely sits within arm’s reach of you right now. You use it countless times a day, in fact some people rarely ever put it down. You may actually be staring at it right now, holding it tightly in your closed palm as you read this post. That’s right, I’m talking about the new staple of the modern rock concert- the smartphone.

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Everywhere I looked, there it was. Kids on the way into the show were presenting their tickets via online ticket app. They were checking their account balances on the Bank of America app, watching for rain on the iPhone weather widget and scouring the concert lineup on the Boston Calling website. The effect of social media was even greater. A girl climbed up on her boyfriend’s shoulders not get a better view over the endless sea of people, but to take a selfie to immediately post on Instagram. The #BostonCalling hashtag lit up Twitter with every minute festival detail being live-blogged through 140 characters. People checked in on Facebook and sent Snapchats to their friends of Roxy’s Grilled Cheeses and videos of The Neighbourhood performing “Afraid”. The impact of the smartphone and social media was impossible to ignore.

#BostonCalling

#BostonCalling Instagram page

With all of this technology- the live online video feed, the Instagram video, the endless pictures on Twitter and Facebook, I started to wonder if I really even had to leave my couch. Could I have just kicked back with feet up on my ottoman, grabbed a cold drink and watched a live feed of Modest Mouse on my MacBook? Since the advent of modern technology, so many have begun choosing to witness events from the comfort of their living room. Could I have saved the money spent on travel and the time waiting in lines? Could I have avoided the aggravation of being stuck in a torrential downpour amidst thousands of pesky concert-goers and just cheered on from my warm, dry sofa?

Just as I started to truly ponder this, I was grabbed by a friend and herded in with a sea of other fans in front of a large and dimly-lit stage. A few minutes later, Brand New (a band I have worshipped since my high-school angst days but never got a chance to see) appeared on stage and proceeded to strum through one of the loudest, most passionate concert sets I have ever witnessed in my entire life. Every note seared directly into the heart of myself and everyone around me. Right at that moment, surrounded by 22,000 other ecstatic fans, I understood why I needed to be exactly where I was.

Modest Mouse performs at Boston Calling

Modest Mouse performing at Boston Calling

Simply put- yes, you can experience a festival from the comfort of your couch. You can read about the acts, you can see pictures of the food on Instagram, and you can even watch the performance feeds on sponsored websites. But there’s one thing you cannot do. You cannot feel.

No one can describe to you the feeling of the bass drum pulsating through your body during your favorite band’s explosive encore. You can watch a live feed, but you cannot feel the camaraderie of 20,000 Death Cab for Cutie fans swaying back-and-forth upon hearing the first few strings of “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” You cannot feel the cold sweat rolling off your favorite beverage as it battles tirelessly against the midday sun. You cannot taste the food, you cannot feel the breeze upon your face- you cannot be there, unless you are there.

Mike Majlak at Boston Calling

Me taking in the vibes

As someone who watches quite a bit of online media, I’m not putting down catching some cool stuff on your laptop or TV. But I also understand that this life is fleeting. The reward offered from getting off the couch and witnessing life first-hand is worth the extra effort or a little discomfort. You may forget things you have read, or things you have seen, but you’ll never forget the way things made you feel.

Boston Common Flag Memorial

Boston Common Flag Memorial

With that being said, everyone needs a place to fall back to, a safehaven for the mind, a landing pad after a rigorous trip. It was an unforgettable adventure, but now I have a date with my couch

— Michael Majlak, Author: The Essential Foodie blog 

 

A note from Life on a Couch founder, Shawny Nelson: Thanks Mike for your post. I agree completely. “Life on a couch” does not advocate more time on the couch–we advocate better time on the couch! There is certainly much more life to be had off the couch and out of the house. It is precisely the exhaustion from a good music festival, the soreness from a week at the lake, or the fatigue from a day out in the sun that makes flopping on the couch at the end of the day so appealing–so incomparable. We believe that the quality of our life on a couch is directly proportional to the quality of our life off the couch…so go, get out, attend, experience…run, jump, dance, laugh and live it up! That’s life on a couch.

Couch Life in the Gobi, How Different Can it Get?

As the dramatic photos from my previous post (part 1 of this series) revealed, I took some time on my most recent business trip in China to get as far away from “factory” China and “tourist” China as possible. In my wanderings I was invited onto the living room couch of a complete stranger—a mechanic named Mao, whom I met by happenstance in a back lot, off of a side street, in a town that is off limits to foreigners and not even accessible by normal means.

The couch life of people worldwide is a modern, unifying lifestyle

Mao & Shawn

Mao & Shawny on Mao’s couch inside of his home in this town on China’s western frontier

Mao was kind enough to show me his home, and even let me film part of our conversation. I asked him some of the same questions I like to ask everybody about their couch life. Sure enough, Mao had a life on a couch too. Watch the clip!  You tell me how different it is from yours….

Shawny as a 5-year-old

I got to travel the world as a singer and dancer from a young age

The first time I visited China I was five years old. This was in 1982, just four years after Nixon made his historic visit opening up China again to the west. I was part of a children’s choir called The Small World Entertainers….And my parents, for various reasons, couldn’t even make the trip with me!

Shawny at 19

I learned Chinese at 19, as a missionary in Taiwan for 2 years, and later as a management consultant living in Shanghai

I have watched China grow up. I have observed its relentless modernization. I travelled there again at ages 10, and 15 and lived there for years between the ages of 19 and 23. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese and that’s allowed me to really come to know the people. China is not just a place where we make some of our Lovesac products—it is a place that we know and love.

That said, nearly all of our new product growth at Lovesac, is made in the U.S.A. This includes Made-in-America Sactionals. MIA Sactionals, by Lovesac are now made in California and Lovesac Sacs have always been Made in America. The pieces that we still make in China are not produced by some faceless “factory” with smoke-stacks. Surprising to many, nearly all Lovesac furniture is hand-made and sewn-by-hand, by very talented people who we know and love. These are real people too and Lovesac is proud to provide jobs for many people in a good environment over there and in the US alike. These are people who, believe it or not, have a life on a couch too. As you can see from my video interview above  even in the farthest reaches of the most forgotten places on earth—our life on a couch is not so different. We are not so different.

— Shawny

Founder of Lovesac and LifeOnaCouch.org

 

“My Couch Life” Mao the mechanic Interview Video transcript:

Shawny: What is your earliest memory on a couch?

Mao: It was especially old and pretty beat up. Back then life was pretty tough.

Shawny: What color was it?

Mao: That sofa was made of all wood—you know the kind. That old Chinese style. Nowadays, we’ll often have friends over to eat here—parties.

Shawny: How many people can you have on this couch, at this table?

Mao: At least seven or eight people right here…This is our kitchen table. The Chinese love to eat.

Shawny: And your wife?

Mao: My wife is in the hospital…She’ll be alright. Its really not a big deal.

Shawny: Your son is seven years old? What is his name?

Mao: His name is Jiang Tao. We watch TV here…he does his homework here. We eat dinner here and then usually go on a walk. We’re really close. Not just like a father and son only, but like friends. He’s my best friend. Even though I’m the dad and he’s not just my son. He’s my friend.

 This is life on a couch—and it is interesting, because you are.

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Signs of Couch Life Along the Silk Road?

On a recent trip to China I made an effort to take a couple of days to “get off the grid.” Having lived a full 1/10th of my life in China, I am fluent in Mandarin Chinese and I have a great love for the people and culture.

Gobi Desert, Gansu Province

Road with no bends–runs straight through the Gobi Desert, off-the-grid, China

I have traveled to most parts of china, including many parts unknown…but I had never been to the Gobi Desert in Gansu Province—along the path of the ancient silk road in the great northwest—where few foreigners go. YaDan National Park, Gansu Province

Rock formation inside of YaDan National Park, Gobi Desert

This jaunt took me to Gansu Province, one of the harshest and most beautiful places I’ve ever stood. There I discovered that even across this vast gap of distance, culture, and climate—our life on a couch is more similar to theirs than you might think.

 

Kids are kids, Gansu Province

This chair has seen some life — maybe their grandparent’s favorite perch

Shy to be photographed, but definitely intrigued by a group of Americans walking by, these children remind me of my own in the way they play. And check out that chair. It has clearly seen many years of a grandparent perched there, watching the world modernize before their eyes.

 

Shack, Gansu Province, China

Imagine the life that chess table has seen

Rather than spend much time gawking at the tourist attractions near tourist-ready towns that the Chinese Government has carefully prepared for outsiders to see, my favorite kind of travel involves going to no-name places that most tourists never could go—to see how life is really lived. This photo of a shack, built between two high-rise apartment buildings was taken in an un-manicured mining town that is technically off-limits to foreigners. Unless you can speak Chinese, find out about a town like this one, and then convince a local driver to take you there—you wouldn’t know the town even existed.

 

Off-grid, SuBei, Gansu Province

One of about a dozen pool tables lining a side-street market of this nowhere town

There may still be dirt roads in some of these developing towns—but their life is no less complete than ours. Entertainment, shopping, and even a friendly wager over a public pay-to-play pool table are clearly universal past times.

 

Open air market in SuBei, China

2 stalls down from the open air pool-hall

While in America you can walk next door to most pool-halls and grab a fountain drink or lottery ticket—the market connected to this pool-hall just stocks its shelves with their own local favorites.

 

Front stoop, Gansu Province

Life on the front porch couch

But no matter how far you get off the grid—there is always evidence of couch life everywhere you look. At home, here in the US, you can imagine this same function being served by some version of a wicker outdoor patio “conversation set” (Shameless plug: Checkout Outdoor Sationals by Lovesac).

Humble dwelling, Gansu Province

What do you do with a couch that has run its course?

And what to do with a couch when it has finally just worn out? The solutions are just as clumsy and unsightly there as they are here. (Shameless plug: Lovesac Sactionals are built to last a lifetime—and will never face this problem)

 

Couch at curb

“Free Sectional” — What to do with a couch that won’t fit in your new place?

Or what about when you move, and your old sectional just doesn’t fit in your new place? You leave it at the curb of course. Isn’t it just supposed to disappear somehow!?

Couch outside shop, Gansu Province

Mao the mechanic’s waiting room couch

Or what to do when the fabric just gets so dirty its just embarrassing? (Shameless plug: Sactionals all have changeable covers that are totally machine washable—and will never face this problem). But this particular couch has seen plenty of life—parked outside of my newfound friend’s shop, Mr. Mao, the local mechanic.

 

Auto shop mechanic, Gansu Province

Mao the mechanic outside of his humble auto shop

This is Mr. Mao. I met him while wandering through a vacant lot displaying a smattering of older cars, trucks and scooters that I reckoned I might be able to gain access to as a means of going even further off-grid.

 

Urban dwelling, Gansu Province

Entering through the alley – a peek into life on a couch in backwoods, China

As it turns out, Mao the Mechanic could not rent me one of his vehicles. But he did invite me back to his home for tea, and a rare peek into his humble life on a couch. Tune in next week for an intimate look into Mao the mechanic’s “Couch Life” interview, from the inside of his own home, all the way from one of the harshest and farthest removed environments on the face of the earth.

Rock formation, Gobi Desert, Gansu Province

Don’t get lost out here

I was blown away, not only with the stunning local scenery—but by the fascinating details of Mr. Mao’s life on a couch. Check back next week to see it, as one of my series of “How’s Your Couch Life Interviews,” at Lifeonacouch.org.

 

YaDan National Park, Gansu Province

Reminds me of home (southern Utah)…but as far away as it gets

The dunes of MingSha Mountain

Two steps feel more like four, and only take you one forward one in sand like this

Are you like me? Do you like to get off the beaten path? What is the coolest place you’ve ever travelled to? Tell me about it!! Comment here.

— Shawny

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