Planning and executing a fifty-state tour doesn’t just happen overnight. This concept was brewing for almost two years and required a handful of life changes to prepare for this dramatic lifestyle change. And even then, it came together last minute with a few miracles and a handful of incredible people making it possible along the way.

Kendra and I have always been asked since the time we first shared this project concept, “How? Why? When? And for how long?” Our families have been especially curious and concerned, and rightfully so. 

50 States: Veterans + Artists United

Our first step was making sure it made sense for the organization. As mentioned in “Our Story – Part IV: 50 States” post, the single biggest mission behind the project would be to impact more Veterans, more creatives, and more civilians. We realized the best way to reach more people was not to rely on a social media algorithm, ad budget, or traditional media. If we wanted it to reach more people, we would have to take it across the country to them ourselves.

After we started to put the concept down on paper, it clicked and made perfect sense. We had years of experience facilitating HERO[series] projects, there are Veterans located across the country in every city imaginable, there’s an infrastructure of designers already established through AIGA, Kendra and I were in positions in our life where we were flexible and eliminated any personal barriers holding us back, and there was even a resurging trend of “road trips” within the social media/blog webisphere.

We knew this would overly ambitious since we had no significant history of funding. The organization was essentially self-funded and any revenue gained from product sales went back to the Veterans who designed them and to pay for the next round of HERO[series] projects and products. We operated the organization on nights and weekends from our homes and donated spaces, enabling us to be debt free and with very minimal expenses. If the organization was to continue and expand its impact, we understood it would take an even greater personal commitment from us to do it. After nearly six years, we knew it was time to jump all-in, sink or swim. We believed that if we just got started, the support we needed would come when we needed it to come.