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.”


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 uc-2020.com where the YouTube livestream, donation button and Q&A form will be located. Proceeds will be divided evenly among the speakers’ charities of choice.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].