DON'T CRY OVER BROKEN BONES

WHAT'S THAT SAYING? 

"WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS"... "EVERYTHING COMES IN 3's"... "MURPHY'S LAW"...

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So it was about 2 months into the Pop Up shop and things were going well. (At least we thought so). We were having more events and gaining traction and Chris was working on a few more pieces for the shop to "fill it up" as we had some super awesome people come in and ask when we were actually planning on getting more merchandise... yay client feedback. 

It was late Saturday night after an event we had. Chris came at the end to help me clean up as he usually did; emptying the ice buckets, pulling the trash together, giving people nasty looks who were still lingering.

We went home, to sleep and then at 2am I heard a loud crash. Lucy our Pit mix and I jumped out of bed. I searched for Chris who normally gets up in the middle of the night for a scoop of peanut butter and what not. He wasn't in the bedroom or the kitchen or the bathroom. I opened the basement door to see him at the bottom of the stairs. It was the middle of summer and we don't have central air so the window ACs are on and the doors are closed. The basement door is right next to our bedroom door... and you can put the pieces together. 

Face bleeding, holding his left arm I rushed him to the ER at Mountainside. Thankfully it was a quick trip (no school bus traffic at 2am). We got him settled into a room and the doctors came to check him out and set up his Xray and MRI. Turns out he cracked a bone in his face, fractured his wrist and had some nasty cuts & bruises. All that I could handle. What I could NOT handle was all the staff jokingly ask me if I pushed him down the stairs. "Um WHAT?" 

Yes, I had at least 3 medical professionals think they were late night stand up comedians asking me if I pushed my husband down the stairs. Now I don't get worked up about a lot, because WHO CARES. Retail really does kill your spirit due to the insanity of most daily encounters. But this bothered me because:

  1. I was legitimately worried about my husband
  2. Nothing is funny in an ER at 3am.
  3. Would you EVER ask a man that? No, didn't think so. Because that would be considered domestic violence. Double Standards abound everywhere people. 

And again normally I brush the stupid things people say aside, but maybe it was just how bad the jokes were that got to me...

But we handled it the best we could. We tagged his cast with our logo for some extra marketing and padded a few more weeks to any custom orders. Chris adjusted his gym routine and I did more of the heavy lifting at the shop and at home. We also said a special thank you to the Powers that Be that it wasn't his right hand. There is always a silver lining. Things could always be worse... Insert another wise old saying here. 

And in 6 weeks the cast came off and Chris got back to work. Just in time for the end of summer. 

Moral of the story: sometimes bad things happen and mess up your plans, but you just push through. Don't freak out. Don't go all woe is me. Just tell everyone who comes into the shop the story and put a lock on your basement door. 

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OUR 1ST GALLERY NIGHT WITH ERIC DELMAR

So on to the Gallery Night:

I knew I wanted a local artist who had never had a showing before. That way their local friends and family would come out to support, and I could build up my clientele.

What I didn’t realize, was that my first Gallery Night Artist would become one of our greatest friends and really help champion our business.

 

 

ERIC DELMAR

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SOCIAL MEDIA STALKING PAYS OFF                  (even if its creepy)                      

I started looking around on Facebook for local artists. I had friends and other artists in mind for future showings but no one was quite ready and I wanted someone in town for our first one. I came across the Montclair Animal Shelter’s Facebook page and there were these beautiful pictures of rescue dogs and cats by local photographer Eric Delmar.

Perfect! I mean our slogan literally is “We like our furniture like we like our dogs. Rescued.”

I facebook stalked Eric and saw his other photos of Montclair, the Jersey Shore and just had a gut feeling that he was the perfect fit. I messaged him and gave him the gist of what I was thinking for our first gallery night and invited him to come by the shop.  He called me the next day to say that he wasn’t interested…  GOOD TIMES.

Ok so back to drawing board. Then the day after he called again and said he changed his mind… MEN…

FINDING YOUR KINDRED                             (everyone has a lil crazy)

Eric came by the shop after work and settled on an opening date, the # of pieces, pricing and our artist/gallery % split. He sent over images to choose from and we narrowed down to a general theme. Then he went off to print and frame. I took a few of his photos to start promoting. I created a flyer and had them printed locally making sure to state free booze. I compiled a list of all the people who I thought I should email in the off chance they would swing by. This included the local art museum, the local papers & online sites. I handed out flyers to other shop owners, left flyers at coffee shops, at the train station. Anything to get people in the door.

Eric’s Gallery Night was approaching. He dropped off his work and I started hanging. We were very lucky in the 1st Pop Up Shop that the owners were knocking the building down. So they didn’t care if we put holes in the wall. I mean the wall was straight up cinder block but if something was crooked, I could just hammer in another nail and hope it didn’t bounce back at me and take my eye out. The amount of nails I swept up was astounding.

FREE BOOZE CAN MASK 90 DEGREE HEAT            (in June, not July)

I went to my local liquor store who I realized I frequented a little too much… and told him I was going to be hosting a lot of events and needed a cheap booze that didn’t taste like nail polish remover. My man directed me to 2 options both under $5 each. I got a case of white and a case of red which I knew I would use for future events and purchasing cases knocks off 10%.  

Then I went to the grocery store to get those fancy-ish plastic wine glasses that have the fake crystal cuts. I like them. I think they make a difference. They probably don’t but it makes me feel like they make the cheap wine taste $3 more at least.

Threw in 2 cases of those tiny water bottles, because people constantly open the regular size water bottles, take a sip and leave it some where. Then open another. Nothing like dumping full water bottles at the end of the night. The tiny ones are perfect. And you need them. Not just for people who don’t drink, but because people need something to do with their hands… and it was damn hot.

Bonus: We finally used the wide Champagne bucket from our wedding registry! Filled that with ice, brought a few wine openers from home and we were set.

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FRIENDS, FAMILY & COWORKER GUILT = SALES

So the day came, I started to set up and boy was it HOT… (did I mention that?) Like standing there and you can feel the sweat drip down your stomach HOT. But like I said earlier, I was on such a positive high I thought it would all work out.

AND IT DID!

Eric’s crowd was awesome! His family came, his friends, his coworkers and local people on the way home from the train stopped in. My entire family obviously came (and we roll 10 deep). We sold a bunch of prints. I had that giddy feeling putting those round pink SOLD stickers next to the frames. People were definitely visibly warm and uncomfortable but like I said they were a good, respectful crowd. So I was over the moon.

THE FRIENDSHIP THAT KEEPS ON GIVING (hopefully forever)

After our 1st successful Gallery night I knew we were on to something. Eric’s work basically stayed hung in some area of the shop for our entire POP UP duration and continued to sell. We even planned a 2nd Christmas Gallery Night and Hipster Santa Dog Event which we will get to later.

And then we became friends. The kind of friends that end up talking for 2 hours to the point that your partner calls because you went out to grab lunch from the Corner so where are you with my Avocado Toast, damnit!?

Every time Eric popped in he would take photos of the shop for me. New furniture that Chris just made, new artwork, my latest attempt to move the sofas around. He would send me the link, I would download, post on Insta and FB and actually look professional, making sure to call out our in house photographer.

He always tried to pop in for our other events, to see what was going on and meet new people. I love introducing artists and pointing to their work on the wall.

2017 UPDATE

Fast forward to now: Eric has an awesome website and instagram which he constantly updates with his life adventures, and a side business shooting product photography for local business.  He is constantly upping his photography game by taking classes like super microscopic photography so he can shoot those bugs up close. I currently sell his work on our website and also at our future shop once I find it...

Eric also offers personal lessons on actually using your DSLR camera that you spent all that $$$  on (which I took and it has helped me immensely. I mean I am no Eric but I use Adobe Lightroom now so… yeah progress).

Basically, just an all around amazing human.

And that’s the moral of the story right? Be a good person, and good things come to you. Like awesome friendships.

And when one of us gets rich and/or famous, we will look back and think,

“Damn that ridiculously HOT night was totally worth it."
 

Eric's instagram: @delmar.photos

Eric's website: www.delmar.photos

HOW I GOT THE WORD OUT & HOW I DIDN’T

So the shop was open… now how do I get people to actually come in?

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I listened to my Nana’s advice and put an announcement in the town local paper. It felt super old school, but it made me feel like our business was official and not me just playing pretend shop keeper like when we were kids.

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"Not advertising is like kissing a beautiful girl in the dark. You are the only one who knows about it." 

- Phyllis Murray aka Nana

Next Steps:

-        Announced on Facebook and Instagram that we were open and ready for business.

-        Researched in-town interior designers and sent them emails introducing myself and our shop.       (no one answered).

-        Walked up and down Walnut Street to meet the other shop owners, introduce myself and invite them to swing by. Some people were super cool. Others were jaded and basically said I was wasting my time…

-        Plan our 1st event to drive traffic to the shop other than my siblings’ visits…

In the meantime… I waited. I waited for curious people to peak their heads in to see what the hell we were doing.  To tell me that they were going to buy this building. Which I heard over 100 times… It seemed like half the town “was going to turn it into a restaurant.” Because the town just didn’t have enough restaurants…  Or try to get the lowdown of who DID in fact buy the building and what they were planning on doing with it.

I waited for people to come in and ask where the previous owners were. They had an Antique shop selling Asian furniture. Some people thought I was that lady, who apparently was in her 80s… (mental note to make a dermatologist botox appointment).

Then came the people who wanted me to sell their old beat up black leather sofa… or tried to give me their giant 80s entertainment center because they couldn’t get rid of it.  Or the junkers who wanted to sell me the random stuff they found on the side of the curb or kept during estate clean outs.

“You getting more stuff?” with a weird side eye…(aka you are nuts to do this.)
“Yes we are working on making more furniture, getting our favorite stationery in and showcasing local artists,” I would say as cheerily as I could.

 I was so excited and nervous and green. I had no idea what I was doing and it truly was a “learn on the job” situation. But Chris and I were so proud and hopeful. And for every 5 client interactions that were awkward or rude, there was 1 awesome conversation that made me feel a glimmer of hope. Hope in what we were doing and faith in humanity….

Just being in the space led to walk ins, word of mouth and after our first gallery night the artists started to come…and come. More on that next.

WORKING WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FEELING OF BEING 2ND FIDDLE

 

Every article on “Working with your significant other” will tell you a few of the following:

-        Communication is key

-        Set time aside to NOT talk about work

-        Make a point to throw in a few “Good jobs!”

 

This post isn’t about any of that. This is for the person who needs a little pat on the back.

An “I get what you do.”  A silent nod of acknowledgement.  Because partnering with an artist can make you feel like there is only one spotlight, and you’re not in it.

                

Every once in awhile I feel frustrated, because I get the feeling people think Chris is the creative, talented genius, and I am his personal assistant, just there to answer emails and help him carry out a coffee table.  And in some aspects of what we do, that is true. I order the supplies he needs, make sure he has the right materials and measurements, then let him loose in his workshop, making sure to swoop in at the end to post an instagram.

What seems to get lost in translation is that I do a lot of the not so fun stuff that doesn’t seem to have perceived value, unless you have personally attempted them yourself.

 

FOR EXAMPLE...

WEBSITE

If you have a business, you need a website. And it should be awesome. Because if it isn’t then you look like a fraud.  So I researched the best website builder for my lack of skill level/lack of interest in ever learning to code.  Squarespace fit the bill. Its easy to use, it looks modern and professional and they keep track of your billing, domain renewal and bonus email set up.

This was of course after I fumbled with Godaddy, Hostmonster, Wordpress, etc. for a year or two.  I swear my 6-year-old niece is already learning to code, and she could have done a better job right out the gate.  Similar to how my father freaked out over remembering a 6-digit passcode to his iPhone, I didn’t grow up with building websites.  I remember a brief project in college and saying to myself “Thank god that class is over…” One of the many life lessons I would tell my 20-year-old self.

DEALING WITH CLIENTS

A 10 ft. farm table doesn’t just miraculous appear. In between the request and delivery are sketches, material approvals, client meetings, price quotes, visiting suppliers and countless emails and phone calls. Once the table is planted firmly on the rug, Chris gets a handshake and the “Great job!” while I fold up the packing supplies and beam in agreement.

And again, Chris does things I can’t and wouldn’t ever want to do. I can’t sand a table for hours, switching sanding discs from heavy to fine… I won’t research new techniques or watch YouTube videos to solve a construction problem.  But he does thankfully or else we wouldn’t have a business.

BUDGET

Need a new tool? All out of epoxy?

It is imperative to have one person manage the money. I always know what events we have coming up, what deposits we are waiting for and what bills need to be paid. That way Chris isn’t spending the money I already have allocated. Also, I can say, “Do you need that tool immediately to complete this project?” Usually not….

SOCIAL MEDIA

I have probably said it over 100 times. I need a teenager to manage our social media.

Unfortunately social media isn’t just posting a good looking photo with a sly caption and hoping for the best. You first need content, and lots of it. Then it’s a matter of figuring out the best time to post, engaging with your current followers on each platform, trying to make new followers…and staying on top of the newest features.

 Oh wait now Instagram Stories is what everyone looks at because we are all literally too lazy to scroll? (Myself included)

After 9 months of managing our 1st Pop Up and trying to improve our social media presence I was so burnt out that I didn’t touch Facebook or Instagram for a whole month. Like complete social media silence. I needed a break. I felt forced. Everything I posted or was going to post didn’t feel genuine. Just a “Look at me, look at me!”

So once I was ready to get back on the saddle I made the conscious decision to not post every day like everyone tells you to do. But instead post once or twice a week. That was manageable for me. And I wouldn’t get sick of myself.

I am still trying to post different content to Facebook but I just can’t get on that train right now. Our Facebook presence is pathetic at best. But I know I need something up there because there is still the random person that doesn’t use instagram… 

TAXES

-Yes, we all know how awesome and fun taxes are. But let’s face it. In order to do your taxes correctly and actually try to get money back you have to always have that dirty word in the back of your mind. There is nothing worse than having no idea what receipts are for what in mid March… So updating QuickBooks, having a filing system (or “organized piles” as I do), keeping track of those donations are all part of the goal not to cry come April 15th. Sorry, not April 15th … when you have a business where you paid artists or vendors, you need to get them their W9s in January, so that they can do their taxes on time.  So crying time would be right after New Year’s…

MORAL OF THE STORY...

The main take away from all this, (it’s not to pity me, trust me), is that working with your partner is challenging if you are both super competitive and feel that you aren’t recognized for your work, or opposite that you aren’t pulling your own weight. Unlike a corporate job where you leave the office and can go home and bitch about your job or your coworker… you can’t do that at home. Because in this case, your coworker is husband.

Just do what I just did… make a list of the things you do, that your partner doesn’t/can’t/or won’t. And realize, they couldn’t exist without you either… 

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