Another year is coming to a close in our personal lives, but for The Harvest Hands, it’s the close of our first full calendar year as a brand.

We’ve been taking some time to reflect on all of the amazing things that we accomplished and were a part of.  We’ve also been taking some time to get pumped for the massiveness that is going to be 2017.  We wanted to take a moment to share with you a bit of both things.

Where it all started:

Our very first event was held in Denton, TX at 940’s Kitchen and Cocktails.  And honestly, for our very first event, it went incredibly well.  The food was amazing and so was the staff and atmosphere.  We are so happy they were open to our ideas of serving a completely vegan 4-course dinner (including a super delicious dessert by our friend Allison with her Vegan Noms treats). Huge shout out to everyone who attended this, our inaugural gathering. 

My oh my how far we’ve come in just one year:

Our second event was just one week later, at the event space at ALMI Design District (formerly 1400 Hi Line).  To put it lightly, we learned so much from this event.  While in many ways, it was a fiasco, we were glad that we were able to use the hard lessons we learned from things going extremely wrong, in order to make sure they never happened again.  MASSIVE thank you to everyone who came to this event and stuck around through our growing pains, and had the trust in us to come to another event.  

You tha real MVP.

Love was in the air (and so was the smell of whiskey and vegan beef wellingtons) 🙂

2015 Valentines Dinner.

Not going to lie, we were pretty nervous about this event as we came to redeem ourselves from the December event. But a major thanks to those we partnered with, including Living Life Fresh, Factory Glam, Compassionate Collective Co (now V-Market Dallas), and Common Desk, the event turned out to be one of the best yet.

When we first started The Harvest Hands, our idea was events. We wanted to bring our guests something incredibly unique, which included not only a delicious four-course vegan meal, but also an interactive element that would leave them with a new knowledge about the plant-based lifestyle that they didn’t already know. With this event, we were able to achieve all of these things in the best way by giving our Valentine’s couples the choice of the following: A) a whiskey tasting in one room hosted by Zak or B) a cruelty-free makeup tutorial hosted by Factory Glam.  Afterwards, they dined on Evita’s (the owner of Living Life Fresh catering, who is now one of the rockstar chefs at V-Eats Modern Vegan at Trinity Groves) beautiful food creations (one of which was a vegan beef wellington).

V-MARKET SETS UP FOR BUSINESS FOR THE FIRST TIME!

We were so excited to be a part of the very first V-Market as well as watch them grow into how big they are now.  Spoiler alert: the last event on this list has A LOT to do with V-Market.

Sometimes we just wanted to have fun and spread the word of compassion and positivity with our friends!

So in case it wasn’t glaringly obvious from our social media, we LOVE Sun Lovin’ Roots.  So we hosted a little pop-up with her and one of our other friends’ business.  She is the stay-at-home mom’s/healthy cookie maker, Adri and her company is Good Temptations.  We hosted this one at one of our favorite coffee shops in Dallas, Local Press + Brew.

While it wasn’t very big, it was cool to see our friends and learn a bit about how pop-ups work and how our audience responds to them.

Paradise in Latin America:


While this wasn’t actually an event, it had massive implications on our brand.  It helped us to reflect on where we’d been so far, as well as make some plans on where to go from there. (Kind of like we’re doing now, with this blog).  We lost ourselves in Costa Rica, or did we find ourselves?  Both.  We can’t wait to go back.  What a magical place.

Plant Forward begins:

We feel like we really started to find our stride as far as events go with this one. We realized that one of the things that the Dallas vegan scene needed, was elegant dinners at super nice restaurants to expand its audience to the gourmands and the foodies.  Chef Jon Stevens at Stock and Barrel Kitchen Americana is an absolute genius, and a wizard with seasonal plants. Their mixologist is equally as talented.

 

All Summa 16, All Summa 16:

So one of the decisions we made while in Costa Rica was that we were going to take the summer off from events, and just focus on branding ourselves and traveling.  Both of which we did a lot.  We went to Portland for Vegan Beer and Food Fest (now known as Eat Drink Vegan).

We also went to New York for a week.

We explored the streets of NYC to devour things like savory crepes at Little Choc Apothecary, cereal milkshakes at Champs Diner, gourmet donuts from Dunwell Donuts, creative and colorful sushi at Beyond Sushi, and sweet potato mac n cheese at By CHLOE, just to name a few.

Zak stayed and taught at an amazing camp for activist kids called YEA Camp.  

Please please check them out and support them as they seek to not only continue to enrich the lives of hundreds of our youth with a message of compassion, passion and most importantly ACTION, but also grow their reach!  With Zak being a high school teacher by day, this was a very special and life changing experience for him as well.

We got Warped with The Humane League: 

Several of our dear friends work for one of the best grassroots animal rights/organizations, The Humane League (when we say one of the best, we mean it, just check this out) and we’re always looking for a way to volunteer our time and efforts to support them. So when we were asked to join the Texas Warped Tour team, we were more than excited to dedicate our weekend to traveling from Dallas to Houston to help leaflet at the three Texas Warped Tour dates, passing out leaflets to spread the word about cruelty-free living.

Hosted Wayward Sons’ Garden Series:

Similar to our Plant Forward dinner concept, the awesome creative veggie chefs at the new spot on Lower Greenville, Wayward Sons reached out to us to team up for their four course plant based dinner and have us as the main hosts. It was not only really cool of them to ask us, but also a super delicious meal that you really can’t get anywhere else.

V Market Takes TUPPS:

As if we haven’t already said enough, but we love V Market and everything that they’re doing for the Dallas community. So seeing the vegan pop-up market that supports nothing but local cruelty-free goods make it’s way to McKinney, was a pretty huge deal and we were just glad to be there to see it for ourselves. Not only was the event super fun for us to have a booth presence to hype up our second Plant Forward event that was coming up in September, but it was also packed! Vegan or not, there were tons of people that showed up to TUPPS brewery to see what V Market was all about and we saw all kinds of people, left and right, making the the connection to a more compassionate lifestyle.

Plant Forward 2.0:

A fellow Dallas vegan rockstar, Kat Mendenhall, connected us to the wonderful power couple Randall and Courtney Warner, that own Clark Food & Wine Co. on Lower Greenville and it was clear from the start that we needed to do an event there. We were excited to shed light on Chef Randall’s innovative ways to serve vegan options on his already unique, gourmet menu and our event proved to do just that. While trying out new marketing strategies and event planning tactics, we were able to see a good growth (and simply a wonderful night) from this second edition.

V-Eats Modern Vegan at Trinity Groves (Private) Grand Opening, hosted by yours truly:

The former Samson’s Hot Dogs omnivore chef/owner, Troy Garner is a great friend of ours. So when he first told us about his idea to open up his own vegan fine-dining restaurant, we had to find a way to collaborate to help the get word out in the biggest way. It was definitely tough for us to keep that big of a secret for so long and only invite a handful of the vegan community along with as many non-vegan social media influencers as possible. But it ended being a successful event for Troy and his new staff, which is always our main goal. Check out our friend Ann’s write up on this event!

Vegan Bowl Attack Recipe Tasting + Book Signing:

Zak has been good friends with Jackie Sobon (AKA: Vegan Yack Attack) for a couple of years now, so naturally when she mentioned to him that she was going on tour to promote her AMAZING new cookbook, Vegan Bowl Attack, we had to bring her to Dallas.  We saw it as a cool opportunity to help her reach the right audience here and turn it into a fun and interactive event. We loved putting on a different type of event rather than a sit down, four-course dinner, but instead something a bit more mobile for our guests.  She made 3 small bowls to snack on while our guests got to mix and mingle while also getting to shop a curated group of a vegan lifestyle brands through our local vendors and their products at the gorgeous new event space Place on Parry, that our good friend Lauren opened earlier this year. 

Major shoutout to those rockstars for doing a great job: Misaotra Beauty Sanctuary, The Goat’s Revolt, and Sun Lovin’ Roots, of course! 

California Dreamin’:

During the summer, we won a social media contest from Visit Santa Barbara for a free trip from Dallas to Santa Barbara for two! We were happy to plan it just right to take the trip during Courtney’s birthday, which is just a few days before Thanksgiving, allowing us to turn it into a week of just the two of us exploring the vegan scene in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Like our other travels, we used that time to build our personal brand as we hung out and met with some of our favorite California vegans (Jackie included), while learning from them and seeing the values of those great relationships.

V Market + Harvest Hands Shop & Social!:

We spoiled it!  We told you that the last mention was going to be showing even more love to V-Market. But hey, it’s just too easy! Christina Bluford, who is rockstar in just about everything she does, reached out to us to team up for this event and we thought it was the coolest idea ever, mostly because of these three words: Hot. Chocolate. Bar. Need we say more?

We not only got to have a blast working with Christina, but also learning how an event partnership works and seeing what it was like to set up an open market-style event, which was different anything else we had ever done. It was the first event that we actually felt like we could stop, observe, and really enjoy, which for us meant that we had come a long way, indeed.

Now here we are.

Just days before 2017 brings us a new adventure and as we reflect on the ones we had in 2016… As we read, hear about, and discuss with other entrepreneurs working so hard for what they believe in and what truly makes them happy, we are happy to have had the lows and highs of our business thus far and plan to honor anything else it has to throw our way. One thing is for sure, we’re happy to have started this initiative for what it’s done for our personal relationships, professional growth, the community, and for the animals. And with that, we thank you for supporting it one way or another and truly look forward to the chance to grow with you even more in 2017.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

-Courtney and Zak