By Jason Bove.
Hey you! Yes, you. What is it that you need in your life? Do you need more friendly vibes? How about more positive influences? Maybe a trip to the Greek Isles, or a venture out into the deep Burning Man playa fits your personality more. Whatever the case, you can be sure to find all of these sought-after attributes present in both Lee Corwin (above, right) and Christopher Rico (above, left). Influencers, informers, instigators, and all-around good people, they will outfit your next party or bring a simple smile to your face. Learn more about how these two superpowers combined to make a resourceful A+ company and partnership in this strange and magical world we live in.
Burning Man has once again just come to a close. Being “burners” who own a company that outfits the masses, how do you feel that Festival Trading Company can help people save time preparing and leave more time to enjoy the fun?
We try to make our coats and other festival clothing accessible to as many people as possible so they can look and feel their best while having a ton of fun in their favorite place. We have the benefit of over 12 burns between the two of us, and countless other festivals’ worth of experience to influence and inform the styles we sell, and we’re just happy that other people want to wear what we have to offer!
A neat aspect about your company is that you donate 10% of the profits to a different charity every month. So cool! Could you please tell us more about how this became a part of the business plan, and what kind of charities you have been able to support so far?
Early on we decided we wanted to do more than just sell clothes. While in college at UC Santa Cruz, Lee started an organization that encouraged students to get involved in raising money for charities in unique and fun ways. When we were thinking of ideas for our store, we wanted to carry that over. We’ve tried to pick a broad variety of charities to donate to. Some of our favorites have been Best Friends Animal Society, Doctors Without Borders, Marine Mammal Foundation, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We always try our best to thoroughly vet our choices to ensure that the money we donate renders as much aid as ethically as possible.
How did you meet, and where did you go on your first date together?
We debated between submitting the story we tell our families or the real story…and then we decided that the real story is way better. We went to school together at UC Santa Cruz (go Sluggies!), and would pretty consistently see each other in passing on campus for four years. At the time, I (Chris) thought that Lee was straight, and was too shy to make eye contact with Lee. Then, with one quarter left in school, Lee contacted me on a very trashy gay dating site. We went on a 36-hour first date, starting at an Irish pub; then a hike in the redwoods the next day; and ending our second night of the date hanging out with each other’s friends. The rest is history! Seven years later (that’s 21 gay years for those who aren’t familiar), we’re about to get hitched!
So you two are engaged to be married—congratulations! Was there a fun story or moment that you would be willing to share about the proposal?
Thanks! We’re so excited! The whole thing was actually a surprise to Lee. We have a friend who is a burgeoning photographer (fellow Pipeworks member Eugene Kwon), who approached us about doing a couples photoshoot. Little did I (Lee) know that Chris had planned a big proposal surprise on a blizzardy day in Tahoe on a dock overlooking the lake and mountains. After Chris popped the big question and I stopped crying, 30 of our best friends were waiting to pop out of the snow on a nearby hill with champagne and hugs at the ready. Boom! It was an instant engagement party, and we celebrated through the rest of the day and into the night. It made for some hilariously epic photos. Have a look!
When you are not busy outfitting the partygoers, what other fun things do you like to partake in? Do you have a favorite activity that you enjoy doing together?
We try to get outdoors with our doggo Bubba as often as possible, whether that’s escaping up into the foothills for a sun-soaked day along the river, or going for longer multi-day backpacking trips in the central Sierras. Our joke for a long time was that the best things about Sac are what it’s close to, but there’s a grain of truth there: we feel super lucky to have so many beautiful places at our doorstep.
Okay. Hypothetically speaking, I have a week that I can give you to travel anywhere you want to go. Price is not a variable, so go lofty with your goals. Where do I send you two, and how do you spend the time that you have there?
Let’s go sailing around the Greek Isles! We’d love to visit Santorini and Mykonos, among others. Our favorite vacations are a mix of chill-outs and adventures, so this would give us plenty of time for both.
Now, think of the same question, but put money back into the equation. You get to spend a week somewhere, but on a very limited budget. Where do we find you heading to this time instead?
Vietnam! We’ve traveled through Thailand together and loved it. Several fellow travelers we chatted with while there highly recommended Vietnam, so we’ve been itching to make a return trip to Southeast Asia.
Please complete the following sentence about one another:
LC: He (Chris) is the wrong one, while I (Lee) am the right one.
CR: He (Lee) is the Obama, while I (Chris) am the Biden.
Hands down, the best festival and/or concert we have attended so far? Why is this the answer you chose?
Best concert: Big Gigantic and the Floozies. These guys know how to let the funk roll!
Best festival: Clearly the answer is Burning Man! We recognize that it is MUCH more than just a festival, but it’s still weapons-grade fun and a transformational experience every year. Nothing else compares.
Lastly, favorite thing(s) about being members of Sacramento Pipeworks Climbing & Fitness?
The friendly community vibes at Pipeworks are the best. We tried out several other gyms in town before joining Touchstone in 2013, and—while some may be bigger or newer—to this day Pipeworks just gives us the warm and fuzzies when we walk through the door. 🙂