a birthday, of sorts

June 3, 2019

photoessay

A year of Uphill - okay maybe not the most accurate lead in. It's been 5 years since Dan & I met at UW, said 'fuck it' and started sewing backpacks together in our tiny Ravenna studio (Dan says "our", Mal says "her studio that Dan moved himself into when she was in Texas"). Yet, when we moved in spring 2018 from our 166 square foot Fremont workshop into a place ten times as big, both in square footage and in rent, we set ourselves up for a wild year of learning and surviving. Coming out the other side of one year, we've felt comfortable enough to plan big changes for the coming year and reflect back on lessons learned that will, hopefully, smooth the road ahead.

So here are Mal and Dan's totally made up, completely skewed, and possibly helpful hints to surviving opening a brick and mortar store.

Human interactions are why we do what we do. Getting to spend time with different humans all the time is energizing and inspiring and fulfilling and beautiful. Oh, and  exhausting and confusing and infuriating. These interactions are what keep us going, but it's also why we need to leave the shop sometimes. We’re not saints here.

Provide value. Sometimes it's tangible goods, or a long conversation but it all boils down to understanding and connecting with people.

A shop dog is an incredible asset. And to those few people who think he's a detriment, I understand. Wait, what am I saying. I do not understand - you are wrong. End of story.

You can't do it all. Do as much as you can in the time you have with the resources available.

There's a time for everything. Sometimes you have to wait until your needs become a must, but sometimes you should have done that shit a while ago.

A bar is a must. No follow up text necessary.

There's always room for growth. For us, growth in business comes through shortening the gap between intention, action, results, and change.

It's not really a problem if it's not consuming all your thoughts. There are small fires to put out everyday, but save up reserves of energy to solve the REALLY big problems that put those other trifles into perspective.

People may not "get" everything you're doing, but they don't have to. Depending on how you look at it, and on any given day we're a really clean workshop, or a really dirty retail store. We don't subscribe to only one way of doing things. We make what we want to use and our shop is a result of various interests and things we love. If not fitting into an exact ideal you have of what a "store"  is makes you turn and walk out that door, I'm cool with that. YOU CAN'T FIT ME INTO YOUR BOX, CHAD, SO STOP TRYING.  

Take April off. People in Seattle are REAL grumpy in April. At some point maybe everyone will just accept that the 70 degree weather in March is only temporary and taxes will continue to be a thing. But until then we're taking a vacation April 2020.

Build your own shit. Yes a giant hand-built table and towering shelves are fun & totes instagrammable, but also your care a lot less about imperfections (this does not apply to our products - those are as damn perfect as we can make them).

Set boundaries. Setting boundaries with work creates space to be more creative, present, and effective when at work. This applies to the time you work & who you work with. Caveat - There'll be a time when a few weeks of 16 hour days will be needed.

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. You succeed by focusing on what you're really good at. However sometimes, what you think makes you great often doesn't - it's often something that feels easy and you take for granted.

There's no substitute for just starting. You can't be good at something until you start doing it.

Stop comparing. You're only competing against yourself.

Don't underestimate yourself. Everyone else is doing that for you.

- Mal & Dan

see more of our upcoming class dates

a birthday, of sorts

June 3, 2019

photoessay

A year of Uphill - okay maybe not the most accurate lead in. It's been 5 years since Dan & I met at UW, said 'fuck it' and started sewing backpacks together in our tiny Ravenna studio (Dan says "our", Mal says "her studio that Dan moved himself into when she was in Texas"). Yet, when we moved in spring 2018 from our 166 square foot Fremont workshop into a place ten times as big, both in square footage and in rent, we set ourselves up for a wild year of learning and surviving. Coming out the other side of one year, we've felt comfortable enough to plan big changes for the coming year and reflect back on lessons learned that will, hopefully, smooth the road ahead.

So here are Mal and Dan's totally made up, completely skewed, and possibly helpful hints to surviving opening a brick and mortar store.

Human interactions are why we do what we do. Getting to spend time with different humans all the time is energizing and inspiring and fulfilling and beautiful. Oh, and  exhausting and confusing and infuriating. These interactions are what keep us going, but it's also why we need to leave the shop sometimes. We’re not saints here.

Provide value. Sometimes it's tangible goods, or a long conversation but it all boils down to understanding and connecting with people.

A shop dog is an incredible asset. And to those few people who think he's a detriment, I understand. Wait, what am I saying. I do not understand - you are wrong. End of story.

You can't do it all. Do as much as you can in the time you have with the resources available.

There's a time for everything. Sometimes you have to wait until your needs become a must, but sometimes you should have done that shit a while ago.

A bar is a must. No follow up text necessary.

There's always room for growth. For us, growth in business comes through shortening the gap between intention, action, results, and change.

It's not really a problem if it's not consuming all your thoughts. There are small fires to put out everyday, but save up reserves of energy to solve the REALLY big problems that put those other trifles into perspective.

People may not "get" everything you're doing, but they don't have to. Depending on how you look at it, and on any given day we're a really clean workshop, or a really dirty retail store. We don't subscribe to only one way of doing things. We make what we want to use and our shop is a result of various interests and things we love. If not fitting into an exact ideal you have of what a "store"  is makes you turn and walk out that door, I'm cool with that. YOU CAN'T FIT ME INTO YOUR BOX, CHAD, SO STOP TRYING.  

Take April off. People in Seattle are REAL grumpy in April. At some point maybe everyone will just accept that the 70 degree weather in March is only temporary and taxes will continue to be a thing. But until then we're taking a vacation April 2020.

Build your own shit. Yes a giant hand-built table and towering shelves are fun & totes instagrammable, but also your care a lot less about imperfections (this does not apply to our products - those are as damn perfect as we can make them).

Set boundaries. Setting boundaries with work creates space to be more creative, present, and effective when at work. This applies to the time you work & who you work with. Caveat - There'll be a time when a few weeks of 16 hour days will be needed.

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. You succeed by focusing on what you're really good at. However sometimes, what you think makes you great often doesn't - it's often something that feels easy and you take for granted.

There's no substitute for just starting. You can't be good at something until you start doing it.

Stop comparing. You're only competing against yourself.

Don't underestimate yourself. Everyone else is doing that for you.

- Mal & Dan

People may not "get" everything you're doing, but they don't have to. Depending on how you look at it, and on any given day we're a really clean workshop, or a really dirty retail store. We don't subscribe to only one way of doing things. We make what we want to use and our shop is a result of various interests and things we love. If not fitting into an exact ideal you have of what a "store"  is makes you turn and walk out that door, I'm cool with that. YOU CAN'T FIT ME INTO YOUR BOX, CHAD, SO STOP TRYING.  

Take April off. People in Seattle are REAL grumpy in April. At some point maybe everyone will just accept that the 70 degree weather in March is only temporary and taxes will continue to be a thing. But until then we're taking a vacation April 2020.

Build your own shit. Yes a giant hand-built table and towering shelves are fun & totes instagrammable, but also your care a lot less about imperfections (this does not apply to our products - those are as damn perfect as we can make them).

Set boundaries. Setting boundaries with work creates space to be more creative, present, and effective when at work. This applies to the time you work & who you work with. Caveat - There'll be a time when a few weeks of 16 hour days will be needed.

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. You succeed by focusing on what you're really good at. However sometimes, what you think makes you great often doesn't - it's often something that feels easy and you take for granted.

There's no substitute for just starting. You can't be good at something until you start doing it.

Stop comparing. You're only competing against yourself.

Don't underestimate yourself. Everyone else is doing that for you.

- Mal & Dan

see more of our upcoming class dates