A wide variety of vendors gathered in Jacksonville Beach for the 904 Pop Up event at the Seawalk Pavilion on September 22nd. Among the overcast weather and scattered showers, with the sun only peeking out occasionally, people of all ages were out and about. Jaguars cheerleaders were making rounds and taking pictures. Others even brought their dogs, ranging from chihuahuas to pit bulls.
The vendors and their booths were the focus of the event, featuring items from clothing merchants with works ranging from unique designs for local sports teams, to nature scenes, to bathing suits.
There were booths for artists selling photography, oil paintings, and metal works. Some vendors catered to pets, others to CBD, but what was incredible was the foot traffic at every booth.
You could feel the community that was taking place and the energy was contagious.
The first booth I spoke to was GenJag. The brand started in 2015 as a Jaguars fan page. I spoke with Jordan De Lugo, the creator of the company, who said he’s always been a Jaguars fan, and with the Jaguars being such a young team there is a generation that has grown up with the Jaguars. The fan page slowly grew to being a source for the latest team news and started selling merchandise in 2018. Everything from hats to shirts to stickers. GenJag’s booth was filled with so many unique designs, such as the popular Jalen Ramsey portrait with a crown on his head. But Jordan’s favorite design is a skeleton of Shad Khan riding a Jaguar. You can learn more about the company and Jaguars, including purchase merchandise at GenJag.com.
I visited an art booth next where I met Jasmine. She was very personable and possessed a vibe that made you want to smile. She had a lot of different mediums of art. There were canvas paintings outside her booth of Nipsey Hussle and Donald Trump. There were prints on a table inside the covering, along with t-shirts with the brand name Frugal on the front. What really caught my eye was a denim jacket she had painted which was hanging behind her. She told me how she started painting 4 years ago and how she would paint everything, even shoes! She had a few different themes to her art, from portraits, to symbolic pieces that were more abstract. When I asked her what the largest piece she had ever painted was, she told me she had actually done a mural for a school, which was something she really enjoyed. This was her second year at the event and was excited to see the event grow and how she can get her art out there to as many people as she could.
Angela and Alexi started their company a year and a half ago which sells CBD tinctures, soaps, essential oils, and CBD products for dogs. They were enthusiastic about bringing CBD to the community and talked a lot about the local connections they had made to keep their brand and company organic.
They had products for anxiety, sleep, cramps, and other ailments. Alexi explained how she went to school for botany and how there was much more to these tinctures than meets the eye. She noted how these chemicals and compounds can be dangerous if not used properly and that they have other interactions, but that they can be very beneficial.
I loved a testimonial they shared with me about a mother whose child had been diagnosed with autism. They tried the usual things for about 3 years with no real improvement. They came to the booth, where the boy was visibly going through episodes, and tried a tincture. 20 minutes later the mother returned excited and relieved as the boy had calmed down and was much more responsive. 1 month later the mother had removed the other medicines from their routine and he was solely taking the tincture with little to no symptoms. It was stories like these that really drove them and made them feel like they were making a difference.
At the center of everything was an interesting bus that drew everyone’s attention. Inside, a store started by a group of skaters and surfers from South Florida who wanted to make clothes for their friends. 6 years ago they started selling shirts out of their cars and now they are an international brand in over 100 stores. Shaun told me how they started marketing online but once they got the bus, it was a more effective grassroots approach. Items from shirts, shorts, hats, and even socks featured many designs like palm trees, dolphins, and flamingos. Beachy themes with pastel colors really epitomized the Florida lifestyle. The bus was awesome for the event, and brought natural curiosity and foot traffic to the store, where I saw multiple people buy items while I was inside.
Across from the bus was a booth filled with models. It was the Mahina Swimwear booth where I met its owner Dae. The swimsuits had a few designs from acid-wash to animal prints and Dae explained how her recent collection was themed, Into the Wild. She talked about how her brand is personable and uses influencers to reach out and market. She loved how 904 Pop Up was an excellent way for her to meet her customers and develop the important face-to-face relationships that truly help people remember a product. She wanted her brand to feel as human as possible.
The band providing some mellow indie vibes for the event were playing at the front of the venue. Psych, pop, surf, disco is how the group of guys described their style. Micah, Nick, Ryan, Matt, Harry, and Jacob talked to me about their beginnings and how they were just a few finance majors looking for purpose. Their name comes from them being self-described “rats” who hang out at their “temple.”. Their goal in performing is to spread love at their shows. Their favorite song to perform is “Summer Sun.”
After speaking with the band, I continued to walk the event, where I came across Mobarick Abdullah. His art stood out to me because, even from afar, you could see a recurring unusual combination of rubber ducks and bombs. I was curious about this theme and he explained that it was a more recent collection of his, with the “love duck” symbolizing his grandmother and the “love bombs” symbolizing the love he is sending out.
He talked about how he used to do more colorful nature and beach themes, but transitioned to his recent style as he has grown. He started painting professionally after his girlfriend asked him to paint her a piece which received a very warm reception. I talked with him about pricing art, and he explained it was an art within itself, depending on so many different things, from time to size to location.
Sometimes you don’t always appreciate things until you see it from a different perspective. Kevin, creator of Shutter Styles Photography, is known for his aerial photography. He usually rents out a helicopter for most of his aerial shots but has recently used a drone as well. The drawback though is the height limit. He started taking photos professionally around 5 years ago when he was looking at how much it would cost to take some photos of his kids. Instead, he learned how to do it himself, and years later is an accomplished photographer. In the future he wants to become a one stop shop, taking photos, printing them, and having his own studio.
The 904 Pop Up event is the brainchild of Mark Braddock, creator of 8103 Clothing which has been a staple in the community for 15+ years. When I spoke to Mark, he was clear on his vision for the event. Shifting the culture one pop up at a time. Providing the opportunity for a variety of local brands and businesses to grow their notoriety and customer base through networking and community. Connecting things like Duvin’s clothing customer base with Frugal’s more custom designs. For GenJag’s sports base to check out Shutter Styles and open their eyes to a special perspective of our city.
The event, intentionally alcohol-free, was all about the vendors and artists.
As I left the venue I felt an overwhelming sense of community and excitement. Jacksonville is a big city, and I felt like I had discovered hidden local gems that were right under my nose this whole time. Jacksonville has so many scenes and things to do, that often people stay in their lane or are paralyzed by the options. Events like this one highlight the growing local industry in Jacksonville along with the support and camaraderie of coming together for “Community over Competition”.