Over the past week both Gary and I have had colds so studio work came mostly to a halt. I'm feeling a bit better today so thought I'd take advantage of my convalescing time to catch up on the trajectory of leaving my day job back at the end of June and how things have gone thus far.
I'm not going to lie, it's been a bumpy ride. Orders and students have come in fits and starts. While the overall pace of things has definitely picked up over the last several months, the money side of things is still very uneven. I knew that being self employed would come with no financial guarantee, so had prepared myself as much as possible. I do my best not to let a sense of desperation take hold if things are looking tight, but to try and problem solve about how to make the money come in a natural and unforced fashion. Figuring out how to best get the word out about our classes and custom order offerings can be a challenge when you don't have a marketing budget and are an introvert. Our best way to reach people is word of mouth, so if you've taken a class, or bought our paper, please tell people you know. And for all of you who have helped spread the word- THANK YOU! It means the world to us.
Some people may wonder why we aren't just doing another crowdfunding campaign to help raise money for the studio equipment or operating funds we need to keep us going. We've certainly thought about it, but there a few reasons why we haven't bit the bullet. First up, donor fatigue. We hit everyone we know up for $$ when we got the studio going in 2012, and are concerned that we've tapped out these resources (Some of this is evidenced through the lack of money we've raised on our website for our beater upgrade campaign. We've raised $150 of the $5500 we need so far.)
While our audience is a lot larger now we don't know if they could or would support our growth with financial gifts. Secondly, taxes- ugh! We're still trying to pay off the taxes from our original Kickstarter campaign. Once you add in a tax and fee buffer to a crowdfunding goal, it can really start to balloon. In case you were wondering, if we were going to do a new campaign, here's what we'd be looking to fund-
So far I've been talking about short term needs that would grow the studio and our ability to make it profitable. However, if you asked us what our 5 year plan is, we've got some even bigger, but ultimately doable goals. As much as we love Portland we're feeling the pull of the less densely populated areas in Oregon where we can buy some land, build a small house and studio and grow a papermaking and farm retreat over time. We'd have a fiber and dye garden where we'd harvest plants for papermaking, and we'd have several tiny houses for guests to stay during workshops or for family visits. We'll have alpacas, a larger flock of chickens, goats and maybe guinea hens. We will work hard on our land and enjoy the beauty and solitude of country living. If you happen to know someone who wants to sell their family farm, or even rent some of their land, let us know. Seriously! We want to make this dream a reality.
To wrap up, I feel so lucky and grateful for the support we've received and I remind myself every day what a gift this life is. I could not have begun to imagine 5 years ago that I would be where I am today. Whatever the next five years brings I know it will be full of many wonderful stories filled with many amazing people.
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.