Last year we caught up to Stefanie Poteet as she traveled the country looking for classic neon roadside signs to photograph. This year, she is aiming to set out on one loooong 20,000+ mile American road trip in her Winnebago called Minnie Winnie, photography as many retro signs as she can find. To help her realize her dream, Stefanie has turned to Kickstarter to reach roadside sign fans everywhere. At the time of this interview, she was less than $500 from reaching her $10,000 goal, with only 12 hours remaining to do so!
Denny: When we last spoke, you were taking photos around the country. What led you to decide to do a large scale trip like this?
Stefanie: In the 5 years I’ve been photographing signs so many have been lost that I didn’t get to see or document. I want to help with the preservation of these icons and realized that in order to truly make a difference I needed to do more and do it faster. So I made a few major life changes and made the trip happen.
Denny: How has the Kickstarter experience been to help you reach the goal of photographing all of these signs?
Stefanie: It’s been a phenomenal roller coaster ride that has opened doors. I’ve reached more people by putting the project out there than I think I ever would if I had simply kept a blog. I’ve received emails from sign makers and glass benders, grand children of mom and pop motel owners and coffee shop owners who moved to the United States in part because of the historic neon sign at the establishment they now own. I’ve been invited to take sign tours of cities and have received email updates about the status of endangered signs. I honestly had no idea what to expect when the project went live but I’m grateful for the responses and support I’ve received. I believe we’ll reach our goal, but even if we don’t I’ve made connections with people that I didn’t know were possible.
Denny: Lastly, no takers yet for Minnie Winnie? How did you find her and how are you going to let her go after the memories you will share on the road?
Stefanie: No takers yet but we’ve still got a few hours to go. My parents found Mini Winnie in Sacramento after we decided a small RV would be the best vehicle for the trip. The day I became a proud new owner of a Winnebago I don’t think the smile would come off my face. Mini Winnie has already taught me a thing or two so I’ll definitely be sad to turn the keys over to someone else when the trip is over, but I don’t know when I’ll be on the road again and it’s not good for her to just sit. I’d rather she be enjoyed by someone looking to travel frequently and create their own road trip memories. If anything I want my project to encourage people to travel to the small towns and businesses that need the tourism to survive. This country truly is a beautiful place, but not every place worth seeing is close to an airport. You have to hop in a vehicle and drive.
Safe travels Stefanie! We know you will reach your goal and soon be on your way to another classic American road trip! We can’t wait to hear about the stories and the memories.