Thursday, June 24, 2010

3 Doors Down

Last summer at this time, my business partner, Kristi, and I were sitting in my parents' basement, tossing around the idea of looking into a storefront for our office.

After driving through town and writing down the number for every place with a rent sign, we started the search. We looked at anything from a basement room of a large building, to a small garage that needed huge renovation, to a huge office space area with 2-3 rooms, to the main floor of an old house. Everything looked like an option, yet nothing seemed to fit. Too much work, too expensive, too big, too small.

Then we looked at a place smack in the middle of downtown Morton. It was an old nail salon for years, and then a second-hand store for a time. It had been sitting empty for a couple of months. It seemed to be the perfect size, and although the rent was a little more than we had expected to dive into, we thought it could work.

This all went down during the weekend of the Pumpkin Festival. I remember being at the festival and running over to the space to show both of our parents. Everyone agreed that it looked like A LOT of work, but it was a great starting point.

Two days later, we were signing a lease. I was dreaming about paint colors while Kristi was having a mild panic attack about the year-long commitment we just made to pay rent on a place. Soon, anxiety turned into excitement, and after picking a color we both agreed on, deciding on a general theme, and getting some handiwork done by my brother and our dads, we were on our way. Our moms were gems and came to help us paint the place our "antique yellow" color. My sister came over and painted a huge, whimsical tree and colorful birds on the walls. Kristi and I painted our front door purple, and we got the carpets cleaned.

We also bought tons of used furniture and had several paint days. Desks, tables, chairs, and stools lined the shop floor while we applied cans of colorful spray paint and brushed on white strokes to the majority of it.

Before long, the office was complete and ready for a grand opening. We opened our doors in October, but joined in with the downtown's "Holidazzle" event in early November and had our open house on that evening. It was such a neat time, and we had a lot of traffic in our place to introduce ourselves in our new location.

The thought was that we would stay in this spot for awhile. Especially after all the work we put into it.

Of course, this past year brought about a lot of weddings and business, and we both saw a need to start growing towards a studio environment. After assessing our space and seeing that it wasn't going to be very easy to do this where we were, we started weighing our other options.

There is a corner building three doors down from us that I have always loved. It is a 2-story building, and it's so classy and ornate. It used to be a bank. The "For Rent" signs in the window sparked our curiosity. A phone call later, Kristi and I were anxiously waiting outside the door.

As we stepped into the building and looked at it, both of us agreed that it was PERFECT. Our main concern with where are currently is that it's one big room, and there's no good way to split it up. This place has a front greeting area with a tall counter, and a long hallway on which to hang artwork with 2 rooms; one for a viewing area to meet with customers, and one back room for a studio with built-in shelving.

Furthermore, the place has character. It has tell ceilings, original crown molding, beautiful wood panels that run on the bottom and top of the walls, and tall windows overlooking the intersection of the two busiest roads in Morton.

It just felt right. We said yes.

It's interesting how in both cases, when we needed to look ahead and plan for our future, the Lord just provided. Sometimes, I look at the life of our business and how it has progressed, and I am just in awe. I feel SO blessed by God in this aspect of my life, and I don't deserve it. In fact, sometimes, when I'm discouraged about something, I just recall how the Lord has allowed me to be and do the stuff that dreams are made of. And then I think about my trip to Africa.

We can't feel guilty for where we've been born into in this world, but we can be open vessels for Christ to use us wherever we are. It's my prayer that this happens in my life, wherever God leads me.

I've always wanted to do work that allows me creative autonomy, independence, and freedom. A place where I can touch people with art and preserve memories for them. There was a time right after college where I floated in and out of jobs, wondering why nothing was working out or opening up for me. I look back and realize now that God was preparing me for this business, and He just wasn't ready to put Kristi and I into it full-time yet.

Anyway, we have the keys to the place, and we open our doors on August 1. Again, we've been BLESSED to obtain two amazing landlords, one in which whom attends our church, and they've been kind enough to allow us to work and prepare during this next month.

There is actually not much that needs to be done. The place is in great condition and is so nice. It could have stayed as it was and been fine. But the artist in Kristi and I would not be stopped, and neither of us could handle the wallpaper on the walls. After many cautions and "this-is-going-to-be-a-lot-of-work" warnings from our mothers, we called over our professional paint man and he told us it could be done. Today, with two steamers and "spatulas"** in hand, we started the ominous task of tearing down A LOT of wallpaper.

We were expecting drywall. What we got was one of three surfaces, anything from drywall to concrete to particle board. The vast majority is the latter, so we'll have to be creative in what we do with the walls. We're up for the challenge, though, and our goal is to graduate from "colorful and whimsical" to "classy and unique." It's killing me not to pick a color from the paint wheel, but in the end, I think sticking to neutral will behoove us.

So, several work days have been scheduled for the future, and we're fortunate enough to have awesome friends willing to help.

In the mean time, we have two weddings coming up this weekend... and lovely weather to use!

If you're interested in seeing a glimpse of our new place, click here.

Love you all,


**putty knives. But I like to call them spatulas.

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