From artist David Choe to Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, this speaker series generates Unexpected Connections

Unexpected Connections, a Long Beach-born event series bringing together some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs, artists and industry leaders to share their ideas, is pivoting to a free, live-streamed fundraiser supporting creatives impacted by COVID-19.

Courtesy InterTrend Communications.

On Saturday, June 6, those tuning in can expect to hear one-on-one talks and individual presentations from the likes of street artist David Choe, President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing John Jay—who oversees brands Uniqlo and Theory—chef, author and host of KCRW’s Good Food, Evan Kleiman, and many more throughout the day.

Produced by Long Beach-based InterTrend Communications and MAEKAN, a creative content platform, Unexpected Connections was originally a ticketed, all-day occurrence at the Long Beach Convention Center’s Beverly O’Neill Theater. The inaugural event in November 2018 aimed to challenge its more than 300 attendees to “reconsider preconceived notions and engage with complex ideas in greater depth.”

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@jeffstaple and @karenokonkwo each told us their “why” in life during a panel discussion at Unexpected Connections. Karen elaborated on how she realized her purpose is to “serve the underserved” and Jeff explained how in order to tackle the big problems in the world, you have to make sure your own wellbeing is in order first. As business owners during this pandemic, both of them have been finding ways that their companies can take care of their teams and then help their wider communities. Check in with @tonl and @staplepigeon to see how Karen and Jeff have been living out their why. Listen to the full panel discussion on the event website and the Imprint Talk YouTube channel. #unexpectedconnections #maekan #imprintlab #unexpectedconlb #conference #creativeculture #creators #innovators #creativecommunity

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While the platform has changed, the goal of the series hasn’t.

“The hope is that common ground can be found through uncommon disciplines.” InterTrend’s CEO Julia Huang said in a previous interview with the Post.

With the theme “It All Adds Up,” organizers hope to encourage this year’s at-home, on-their-phone audience to connect virtually and, despite widespread uncertainty, know that individually everyone has something to contribute. Guests will be sharing how even their smallest decisions have added up to greatly impact their lives.

“‘It All Adds Up’ is not just the theme for Unexpected Connections 2020, it is also a reminder for all of us that we cannot be paralyzed by the unknown,” said Huang in a statement. “We must take action.”

Artist David Choe speaks during Unexpected Connections at the Long Beach Convention Center in November 2018. Courtesy InterTrend.

Speakers this year include:

  • David Choe, artist
  • John C. Jay, President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing
  • Jasper Wong, founder of Pow! Wow! Worldwide
  • Decatur Dan, founder of Where It’s Greater
  • Karen Rosenkranz, author of City Quitters
  • Kristen Kish, Top Chef winner, Arlo Grey restaurateur
  • Lilian Martinez, artist behind BFGF
  • Carmen Chan, photographer
  • Jason Mayden, founder of Super Heroic
  • James Whitner, owner of The Whitaker Group (Social Status, A Ma Maniere, A.P.B.)
  • Evan Kleiman, chef, author, and host of Good Food on KCRW
  • Craig Mod, author of Koya Bound, Arts Space Tokyo

Unexpected Connections is free to “attend” this year. For more info and to RSVP, go to where the YouTube livestream, donation button and Q&A form will be located. Proceeds will be divided evenly among the speakers’ charities of choice.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.