15 YEARS OF HIPPYTREE, 3 of 15 // Mystery Trees Continued
If you are wondering what happened after the “Mystery Trees” Channel 13 news feature aired in 2005 (see last blog post), here’s the rest of the story. Looking back this wasn’t the smartest or most eco-conscious thing to do. We were in our 20’s living in Hermosa Beach, surfing a ton and heavily influenced by the burgeoning street art culture. We had ambitions of turning HippyTree into an apparel brand, but didn’t have money to run ads in magazines. Our answer was to take the HippyTree logo and artwork to the streets.
HippyTree founder Andrew and his business partner Josh came up with the idea to hang the tree logo over telephone wires like you would with a pair of sneakers. The first few sets of metal trees were hand cut with tin snips. We progressed to stenciling tree logos onto rolls of steel and cutting them with a hand held plasma cutter. Eventually we found a guy who could laser cut the tree logos with a CNC machine. That was a game changer and allowed us to mass produce the trees.
For 5 months we hit the streets and sought out telephone wires in high trafficked areas. We wanted HippyTree product to be carried in surf shops so we targeted intersections near surf breaks. From Ventura to San Clemente and every beach in-between we left our mark dangling from power lines. If we ran out of metal trees to throw we used plastic bottles with HippyTree stickers on them. You couldn’t visit a beach without driving below one of our tree logos. That also meant law enforcement was noticing the trees too.
After the Channel 13 news report aired and the local newspapers ran articles about the metal trees we quickly began searching for a lawyer. Within a couple days of finding an attorney name Joe Purtel, Andrew was arrested by the Hermosa Police. After spending an afternoon in jail, Andrew was released. It was a big legal mess, but the charges were eventually dropped. The fines we paid were nothing in comparison to the media exposure received. All we had to do now was figure out how to turn this momentum into a business and start making product. We’ll save that for our next post from the HippyTree archives.