On the 20th of July, I worked my last shift at the Watershed before leaving on an Eastern Cape vacation the next day. Towards closing time, I picked up the phone to a desperate last-minute request from Operations Manager Erin to work at least a portion of the Watershed’s shift on the 21st while the rest of the team ran around the city preparing for Decorex. I had a nine-hour drive ahead of me, so despite my survivor’s guilt, there was no chance. But such was the stress around the company. When I got back five days later, I caught up with Daniel to hear about what happened at the Cape Town Convention Centre between 22 and 25 June. The stress was warranted. What was Duck Duck Goose doing at Decorex in the first place? We’re a retail store, not a décor company. Not until a day before the fair, at least. Daniel’s original vision for the store included the ability to sell every single thing in it. But once we received our initial set of furniture for 120 Bree Street, the costs of raw materials and imports shot up too high to even think about reproducing our pieces. We also became too busy running our store, our interior design collaborator Adri Clery became too busy running her life, and our manufacturers became occupied with other projects, ultimately halting our dream of becoming décor tycoons. However, the invitation to participate at Decorex was the catalyst for revisiting this dream. We had the perfect opportunity to display our furniture due to the temporary closure of 120 Bree Street, and with less than a week’s notice, we got back in touch with Adri and our manufacturers who responded positively to our frantic enquiries about whether they could remake our pieces on request. The stars aligned, and we arrived at Decorex with furniture to sell, accompanied by one-day-old studio images and descriptions of all our pieces. Although we ticked the box of selling furniture at a décor convention, it wasn’t our primary focus. When Daniel visited Decorex in 2022, he realised that our participation wouldn’t be entirely out of place. Thanks to Bielle Bellingham’s creative direction, Decorex had opened the door to a variety of businesses expanding past the traditional décor and design industries. The Duck Duck Goose T-Shirt Café, an idea that Daniel had been conceptualising for two years, is an apt representation of the facilities that our trifecta of businesses offer. Much like a café provides a space where readymade snacks coincide with menu items made upon request, Duck Duck Goose offers a space for the curation of products and events, Good Good Good provides luxurious ready-to-wear clothing, and Together MFG bears the opportunity to make something new through our cut, make and trim (CMT) service. The new Duck Duck Goose T-Shirt Café Menu, which introduces three T-shirt manufacturing options and event management services, was another intensive exercise of back-and-forth between copywriting, logistical fine-tuning and expert graphic design fuelled by deadline stress. A massive shoutout must be awarded to our frequent collaborator Shaun Hill, who slept through alarms and arrived late for work one morning after one of the many long nights configuring this menu. Considering all the frantic hard work that took form in the days before the convention, with menus printed and furniture offerings set, you would think that our team would’ve been sitting with confident smiles as the crowds rolled in on the Thursday morning. Not the case. With an hour before the welcoming addresses at 10AM, you would’ve found Daniel hiding alone behind the cabinet in our barely populated booth. For someone who usually keeps his cool in times of stress, it started to seem like he was tapping out with no one there to tap in, since the rest of the team were out running errands, tending to important factory orders, and operating our Watershed store. If it wasn’t for Daniel’s wife, Paige, who took one look at him on arrival and told him to pull himself towards himself, we might not have had anything to show for ourselves. Despite Bielle’s warnings that we couldn’t add anything to our booth until the end of the day, everything began to take shape when the arrival of our vinyl prints for the walls reinvigorated Daniel’s spirits. With some clever manoeuvring as the media had their eyes averted, Daniel and Erin were drinking beers in front of our prepped and polished booth three hours later, with expressions as smug as they were relieved. When Bielle did the rounds again and questioned how everything got to where it was, Daniel responded: “Magic”. A big slice of our time at Decorex was occupied by welcoming the bewildered looks of those who were experiencing our business for the first time. Most excitingly, we had never represented ourselves as a highly capable and confident CMT service provider on such a large platform. Besides our newly forged business connections, it was almost like being back on 120 Bree Street with the constant stream of friends who came to hang out outside our booth. Our contribution to Decorex wasn’t limited to the promotion of the commercial elements of our business, but also included our propensity to bring people together. This communal philosophy was precisely the focus of Daniel’s panel discussion on the Saturday, titled “Spaces and Community”. With the help of panellists Hayden Manuel, Matt Hichens and Pang Isaac, all major stakeholders in some of Cape Town’s community-oriented spaces, Daniel explored the central importance of bringing people together in the context of managing a physical space. With a successful Decorex debut behind us, we set our sights on Decorex Joburg in early August. We intend to pack our bags with exciting products and ideas, and the willpower to completely set up our booth before doors open. It won’t be the same as it was in Cape Town, except for the obvious excitement we feel for bringing our community together again. We hope to see you there!