2019 Annual Letter to Our Customers
By Andi Gladwin & Joshua Jay - Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Every year we (Andi and Josh) sit down and craft a letter to you, our customers. Inspired by the yearly letter Warren Buffet writes, our aim is to give an honest appraisal of the good and the bad of the past year, and inform you of exciting milestones and upcoming projects. And we always start with the most important part: saying thanks.
There’s almost no way to write this without sounding cliché or pandering, but here goes: you have changed our lives. You have changed the lives of our families, and your support for Vanishing Inc. has allowed us to fulfill many of our dreams. We also believe we’ve played a role in launching some careers, and putting out some books and effects that have had a positive impact on the world of magic. For all this and more, we say, thank you.
One of the sectors of our company we needed to focus on this year was our live events, Magifest in Columbus, Ohio, and The Session in London. We have enjoyed tremendous growth at both conventions, but that has resulted in logistical problems that needed solving.
This year, in a matter of days, magicians will gather at The Session and experience the best lineup yet. As we grow, our aim is to improve both the quality of the convention and the acts that appear there. In order to give more value to our registrants, we actually separated out the two events that occur during The Session. We have previously collaborated with Luke Jermay on The Event, a special day of mentalism, but the feedback we received showed that mentalists wanted more mentalism than just a day, and magicians preferred to focus on magic. So The Event will take place separately, over the course of an entire weekend September 19-20th 2020. This has allowed us to expand The Session by a day, and add lots more programming.
Magifest faced a bigger problem: we outgrew our venue. With just over 1,000 people at Magifest last year, we simply overloaded the venue. It was a terrific year, but we experienced unpleasant issues that occur when too many people are in a space: people staying at hotels all across the city, overcrowded hallways, packed events, and inadequate bathroom space. That has all been solved for our upcoming convention, which takes place in downtown Columbus at the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a quantum leap forward in quality, venue, and food options, and it gives us room to continue growing.
Last year we announced another new event, The Retreat: Costa Rica. It was, we believe, a new concept in magic events. We modeled it after wellness retreats, but with a focus on magic instead of yoga! We announced it on Wednesday and by Friday, the entire event was sold out.
The Retreat was, perhaps, our proudest moment as founders. Forty-five magicians (and we brought in our staff as well) convened in paradise for three days of magic, waterfalls hikes, and zip-lining. All the talks were high-level, aimed at experts, but we also packed in a lot of FUN. Floating close-up pads in the pool, midnight S’mores every evening, and a spoof award show at the end. Our attendee satisfaction was EXTREMELY high, and we were proud of the event we organized.
We have since announced The Retreat: 2020 in Phinda, South Africa. This was an ambitious move, since the price per person is $5,000, and it’s a lot farther for most people to attend an event in South Africa. But one of our core values at Vanishing Inc. is putting on the type of events we, ourselves, would want to attend. We wanted to organize an event that will be remembered for the rest of our lives...for us and our guests. So, to Africa we’re going.
We didn’t think we’d sell many tickets. We sold out in 48 hours. The whole lodge. The best part is that the hotel has found us two additional rooms, so if you’re reading this and want to come on the journey of a lifetime, there are precisely two spaces now available. Your spouses are welcome, too! More details on our website.
Giving back is a huge part of our ethos, and that’s why we founded our non-profit, The Vanishing Inc. Magic Fund. A big part of our charity efforts occur at our conventions, where we award scholarships so that young magicians can attend the convention, even those who might not easily afford it. Our thinking is that money should never prevent a young magician from excelling at her chosen craft. This year we awarded forty-five scholarships at Magifest alone.
But we’ve observed that there’s only so much you can do for young magicians at a convention. After all, they’re attending the shows and lectures, and we organize a couple youth-only events geared toward the scholars and improving their skills. But what we’re really after is building relationships with young magicians, and connecting them with exceptional talent for mentorship.
Which brings us to MagicStars. June 4-6, in Columbus, Ohio, we’re organizing our first-ever youth-only magic convention. It’s a weekend for young magicians and their parents. We’ve brought in Shawn Farquhar and a host of other talented magicians and teachers. The schedule is packed with a mix of classes and shows, covering topics like close-up, stage, and the business of magic. We’ll host an event for “magic parents” as well as a pizza party and a “Fool Us” competition. We weren’t sure about the response we’d receive, but the event is already filling up with young magicians. If you know a young magician who would benefit from this event, please pass on the information about it, and send them to our website.
A Sad Day for Magic & for Vanishing Inc.
We can’t think about MagicStars without thinking about its chief benefactors, Simon and Ginny Aronson. The Aronsons have been early and ardent supporters of our charitable efforts. In fact, they initially financed the non-profit status and application when we founded. Both serve as advisors in our charitable efforts, and were instrumental in the planning of MagicStars. On a personal level, Simon and Joshua Jay were extremely close for years, and spoke and visited regularly.
Simon passed away December 10, 2019. We were shocked by the loss, and the magic world is less exciting without Simon in it. We will do our best to continue our charitable efforts in the way Simon and Ginny advised us, and to live up to their aims and wishes through our youth outreach.
Our charitable arm has its own home on the web, and we encourage you to visit www.sharemagic.org. This is where you can make donations, sponsor a young magician, and also see fantastic content. We’ve shared a clip of Joshua Jay interviewing Werner Reich, a holocaust survivor, on the site and it’s must-watch viewing.
Werner Reich discovered magic in the unlikeliest place: Auschwitz Concentration Camp. You can find out more about his arduous journey in this talk, and in his book, which we carry.
Andi’s Breakout Year & Breaking out of the UK
Our own Andi Gladwin spent an extended period of time in Las Vegas this year. He relocated with his wife and young son to sunny Las Vegas for several months, where he accomplished three major writing projects. The first two are books, one that has been a smash hit for Vanishing Inc: Pure Imagination, all on the magic of Scott Robinson. The second book is a book of Andi’s own card material, and this will see publication in 2020.
The other writing project undertaken in Las Vegas was a new one-man show, which will debut in the UK in the fall of 2020. Until then, you’ll have to get your fix of Andi on the hit show Masters of Illusion. He made several appearances on this American television show throughout 2019.
Joshua Jay does Six Impossible Things
Joshua Jay’s hit show continued in its third and fourth extension off-Broadway in New York City. Celebrities and journalists have frequented the show, which ended its fourth run December 18th (when mentalism luminary Derren Brown was in attendance). The show has enjoyed a completely sold-out run. As to whether it will continue, Joshua says only, “We’re trying to work out dates, but next year is already crammed with other projects, so we’ll have to see.”
The good news is that the show has been filmed for two major projects, one of which is a release for magicians. So even if you can’t get to New York City to see this immersive show, you have a chance to see it in the comfort of your own home.
Joshua Jay also had an electric appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, which you can watch here.
Vanishing Inc. Blog & Podcast
Our biggest area of growth this year has certainly been our online presence. We’ve added thousands of new decks and products, and, thanks to our Chief Marketing Officer, Damian Jennings, we’ve added some invaluable content.
Damian brings a new marketing perspective to our team, and when he came onboard last year, he challenged us to make the Vanishing Inc. website a place not only to buy great magic, but to learn about magic. And we asked, “How?”
Man, did he answer. We’ve now clocked fifty episodes of The Insider Podcast interviewing magic luminaries like Max Maven, David Williamson, and Guy Hollingworth. The Insider is terrific, and has quickly become one of the finest magic podcasts in the industry. Damian gets personal with each subject, and it’s a mix of topical (new products, convention appearances) and theoretical (performance advice, humbling experiences, wisdom). If you don’t subscribe, you ought to. You can do that here.
And if fifty podcasts isn’t enough, our magic blog has over five-hundred entries. We have an array of regular contributors who are some of the most creative minds in magic. Plus, we (Andi and Josh) and our team write regularly on goings-on and commentary. It’s not puff-stuff; we maintain a high standard and if you’re a student of magic, we think you’ll enjoy it. Check it out, here.
Warehouses & Production Growing
Our US Warehouse went through a major expansion in both personnel and infrastructure this year, and we also moved into a beautiful new space for our UK Warehouse. Both teams operate at a high level and are the engine of our company.
And if the warehouses are the heart of this company, Vanishing Inc. Asia, our team of engineers working in China on the design and manufacture of our products, form the brain. They recently moved into gorgeous new offices with performance space. When we release a product from a creator, it goes through a rigorous assessment and testing process. We often improve the durability and functionality of the projects we take on, and this takes place in China with our dedicated team of engineers and artisans. We like to let our creators shine, but in nearly every case, it’s a team of people that help bring you hit tricks.
And speaking of hit tricks, we had several this year! Level One by Christian Grace was our best-selling product of the year, and it was a grand-slam. It was a sellout at our conventions and at magic shops all over the world. Literally, we couldn’t keep them in stock...and for good reason. Have you seen it? You show a deck of cards and it melts away, visually, until only the selection is left. Watch the performance video to see how good it looks.
We released several books this year, and they all performed beyond our expectations. But two in particular made enormous splashes. Harapan Ong’s Principia continued to be on every “best of” list in magic we’ve seen (it launched last year, but continued to thrive in 2019). It’s strong, thoughtful card magic from a new talent in Singapore. And Pure Imagination, all about the magic of Scott Robinson, has found great favor with readers all over the world.
We were slightly disappointed not to have a major holiday release this year. Other aspects of the company took our attention away from completing the usual “hit trick” we try to unveil for the holidays, but this means that 2020 will be an explosive year for new products.
We’re choosing not to say too much about new projects coming out, so we’ll leave it at this:
- A mentalism tool you HAVE to add into your show.
- FIVE major hard-backed books are in our warehouse, awaiting release.
- A new gimmick that will fit into your favorite coin routine
- One of Joshua Jay’s signature card tricks will become available
- Another collaboration with Mystery School in Las Vegas
Our Biggest Black Friday Yet
Black Friday was a great success for us in 2019, both because it was our biggest sales event in our company’s history, but almost more so because this is the year we managed it best. You’ll recall in previous years that we fell an average of two weeks behind on sending orders due to the volume we experience. Our team just isn’t equipped to handle such an exponential increase in sales for one week each year. But this year Josh, Andi, and George flew out to our US Warehouse to lend helping hands, and our small but mighty team managed to minimize delays and avoid the kind of crippling backlog that we strove to avoid. Some orders were delayed by a few days, but given the circumstances, this was a huge improvement on a problem-area for our company.
AmazeKids has another Growth Year
Not everyone realizes Vanishing Inc. has a sister brand, AmazeKids, with Danny Orleans. This brand serves the children’s performers that make up the magic industry. This brand improved both in size and sales this year, and released a number of terrific products, most notably AmazeCups.
Next year we have THREE major releases on the AmazeKids brand.
Vanishing Inc. is Everywhere
We’re trying to solidify our place in the magic market, and will be appearing at several other events throughout the year. And, we have upcoming features in Forbes, Delta Sky (Delta’s in-flight magazine) and on the UPS Website.
We’re grateful to be able to perform, create, and offer magic that we’re proud of at Vanishing Inc., and for the community you help make special for us.
Happy New Year and may it be filled with magic,
Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin
Co-founders, Vanishing Inc. Magic
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