Thanks to my roommate, I had a life-time opportunity to meet Jackie Chan in person and helped out at a shoe trade show at Las Vegas this weekend. Her dad produces Jackie Chan shoes in China and they want to expand the business internationally. Along with 3 of our girl friends, we went to help out at the Jackie Chan footwear booth and met with Jackie when he showed up to promote his brand.
We all took off early from work on Friday and started driving in the afternoon. The rush hour traffic was just horrendous. It took us almost 3 hours to get out of LA and stuck on I-15 for about an hour before the traffic began to smooth out. It was already 9pm when we arrived at MGM. Immediately we went to Jackie’s dinner party at a Chinese restaurant inside the casino. Most of the guests were almost done eating dinner and there wasn’t that many open seats for all 5 of us. We had to sit separately in between complete strangers. I noticed it was a social occasion where all kinds of businessmen were busy walking around, giving out name cards and meeting with possible new clients. I have never been to those kind of occasion. It was quite interesting to see how people interact with each other at a business social event.
At first, I didn’t see Jackie Chan when I looked around. Then my friend pointed me to his table next to ours and I saw him sitting diagonally from me. He was wearing jean jacket and blue jeans, eating his dinner and chatting with his friends. I wasn’t too star struck when I first saw him. He looked just like a normal next door neighbor to me, except throughout the evening, he was busy taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. My roommate was nice enough to introduce us to him and we each took individual photos with the big star. When we were taking group pictures, Jackie tried to position me to stand next to him by grabbing my neck to move me. From the amount of force he pushed down on my neck, I could tell this is someone who is very strong. No wonder he is the best known martial art actor in the world. After Jackie and most of the guests left, we joked that maybe we can steal the utensils he used at the restaurant and sell them on ebay (perhaps my neck too if people are interested)!
The next morning, we had to wake up at 6am to get ready for the trade show. It was held at Sands Expo Convention Center next to Venetian. It’s a large 2 story buildings with women’s shoes on first floor and men’s shoes on 2nd floor. I heard there are other kid’s shoes and leather products showing at 2 other convention centers as well. You couldn’t imagine the magnitude of this trade show. It seemed like every shoe businessmen in the world were there.
We first helped to put the sample shoes on display. When Jackie was almost here, we ran downstairs and lined up at the front entrance to welcome him. Jackie arrived in a limo along with his manager, assistants, and a few reporters. Whenever he went, people were gawking at him as if they couldn’t believe their eyes. We had to follow him around to lead him to our booth. Jackie looked at the big group of people following him funnily and asked, “Are you here to protect me?”
Jackie caused quite a stir when he arrived at the booth. People stood in front of the booth, trying to get a glimpse of him and taking pictures whenever possible. We had to act as body guards, block the front door and try to keep out unnecessary bystanders. The entire morning, Jackie was doing interviews with reporters. Most of them are from Chinese newspapers or Chinese TV station, some are American journalists. Not only does he make shoes, Jackie Chan also has his own clothing line, restaurants, cookies, wine, cigar and toys. We over herad one reporter asked him,”It seems like you have everything except condoms. Are you planning to make condoms?” He immediately responded,”No, I’m not planning to.”
Around noon, Jackie saw the crowds just wouldn’t leave and things were getting quite chaotic in there. After he took a picture with us workers, he quickly left the building. I was so disappointed that he didn’t even have time to sign autographs. But at least I got several pictures of him!
The rest of the day went very quietly. People constantly came up to us and asked if Jackie Chan will be back. We had to send them away, at the same time trying to look out for buyers and refer them to our sales. Honestly, Jackie Chan shoes were pretty stylish and comfortable to wear. Most of them are men’s casual shoes or hiking boots. I tried on one pair and it was so light and soft that it didn’t even feel like shoes at all. The price were very decent, at about $50-60/pr after mark up. Too bad they only produce men’s shoes now. I think they got several orders this weekend too. Hopefully his brand can make into US market and customers could enjoy JC shoes.
After standing up from 8am-6pm, we were physically exhausted and our legs were so sore. We were planning to go clubbing on Saturday night, but we all collapsed by the time we went back to our hotel room. Not any one of us could possibly move a muscle anymore. So we had to call it a day.
We worked another half day on Sunday morning before we head back to LA. Seeing how hard my roommate’s parents had to work, I realized it is very difficult to own a business, developing a new brand and trying to make as much profit as possible. Hopefully they can achieve their goals and their business will grow rapidly!
This weekend was definitely the moment of my life. Not only did I meet an international super star, I also learned a lot by helping out at a convention. Even though we were all tired, it was still a fun and memorable event.