At 1 am on Wednesday, August 9th, we were awoken by the sound of someone pounding on our front door. When dashing out of bed to investigate, we saw a wall of flame outside our upstairs window. There was a fire right next to our house. A fire crew was trying to get us out.
Thanks to the quick work of the fire response teams, the fire was extinguished before it did serious damage to our home. From what we understand, an unidentified individual started a fire in the dumpster of the business next to our driveway. The fire reached arborvitae trees that line our driveway for privacy and they went up instantly. After the fire was out and we were allowed to return to our home, we were able to assess the damage. All the arborvitae burned, and both our personal car and the mobile studio had their sides closest to the fire melted.
So many things could have gone differently that night. All things considered, it was the best possible result of a terrifying incident. We are working with insurance and hope to have repairs started soon. If you would like to help in our recovery efforts please consider becoming a monthly supporter of the studio via our Patreon page HERE. Thank you!!!
Though we are soldiering on, this has in many ways, especially on the emotional side of things, knocked the wind out of our sails. Our nerves are pretty raw, and we're trying our best to mitigate an overall feeling of vulnerability. Please be patient with us as we navigate through the recovery process and steer our lives back towards a more even keeled path. Until we find out more from insurance we have no idea what the future of the mobile studio (since the truck we bought is now unusable and will likely be scrapped) will be. For the time being we are planning on using a personal vehicle to teach offsite workshops as much as we can.
Many thanks as always to our family, friends and supporters who believe in what we are doing and continue to help us keep on keeping on.
Most people seem like they are ready to say so long and good riddance to 2016. It's been a year full of a lot of emotion and change. As we put together this look back at the year we mainly feel immense gratitude. The support we've received from students, clients, and partners helped us keep on keepin' on for another year. While we haven't yet crunched the financial numbers to get a sense of our economic year in review, we do have a breakdown of doings and happenings. Here it is -
At first glance it seems a rather modest list, and in some respects it is. We spent a good amount of 2016 figuring out our next steps as our time in the c3:initiative incubator came to an end. Once we decided to transition to a mobile and home based studio and launched our Kickstarter campaign to purchase a food truck to turn into the mobile studio, much of our time and energy was directed at this big transition. We are in fact still working on the transition, and will continue to renovate over the next month. As you can imagine, these things take time, and they take even more time when other projects, classes, and life events need attention too.
Going into 2017 we have some very specific goals, and some more nebulous ideas and dreams. Here's what we're thinking -
You may notice that we're honing in on our connections to community and nature. It's natural that as we look ahead to a new year that we would think about our priorities and how we might want to re-shape them. In an increasingly divisive and intolerant world we are reaffirming our core values with the hope that we can make a positive impact and bring people together through the transformative craft of papermaking. While it is tempting to think that we could do more good as a non-profit venture, we are committed to keeping our studio flexible. Going non-profit would mean we would primarily focus on fundraising. Having recently completed a Kickstarter campaign we can tell you that we are not interested in becoming full-time fundraisers. We believe it is possible to have non-profit values while being a for-profit business, and time will tell if we are right.
2017 will mark our fifth year anniversary in the fall. For a small business it's an important year. It's our hope that this year we can increase our overall sustainability to ensure our long-term survival. Earlier this year we wrote about the changes happening in Portland and our commitment to sticking them out and finding ways to grow with the city. With the continued support of our friends, family, partners, clients, students, and patrons we can shape the kind of creative community we want to see in the world.
So go check out our 2017 workshops, if you'd like to hire the mobile studio for a private group class at your workplace or home send us an email , order something from our etsy shop, or just sign-up for our monthly e-newsletter so you can stay in touch. The more you connect with us, the more pulpy goodness we can share with the world and with you.
It's now the official season of giving, right? Well we have a giving type of request from you. Would you please give us a a review? If you've taken a class, bought something from us, ordered something custom, or seen us talk or give a demo out in the world, would you please tell people about your experience with us? The reason we ask is that we've come to realize a few things about why people review, and why they don't.
Most folks give reviews when they've had a bad experience. It's a way to regain some control in situations where things did not go how you would like them to. We've all done it, right? But it's more uncommon to give positive reviews. Having a good experience feels good in the moment, and we often express our thanks more directly to the person we're interacting with, which is great! We are so appreciative of all the positive and immeadiate feedback we've received. This type of support lets us know that people are enjoying our services and products. Big thanks to all who have let us know in person, or via email that they value what we do and how we do it.
If you've already given us a review on Facebook, Yelp, or Etsy - THANK YOU!!! And if you haven't, would you? By letting others know about your experience you can help people feel confident in our business. We are also hugely appreciative of the word of mouth support that we've received.
This month we're going to embrace the spirit of giving reviews to all of our favorite organizations, shops, and restaurants. Now that we are on the receiving end of reviews we more fully understand their power and importance.
When we're explaining what it is we do, we say we are makers, or more specifically, papermakers. In Portland there is a thriving, dynamic group of makers who create all types of goods. There's even a retail store devoted to local makers and a membership group that highlights businesses and offers member events. The media is also noticing the growth of the local maker community, and we were recently featured on a local news segment focusing on different types of makers with KGW's Tracy Barry. It can be easy to take for granted that if you create something, you're a maker. But what does it really mean to fit into this category that is more readily synonymous with the tech world and 3D printers? When you're operating a business being a maker is mainly tied up with being a producer of goods.
As the days grow shorter and the consumer machine that is the holiday season kicks in, we've been thinking about the types of things we make, and why we make them. Jenn recently attended the WeMake Celebrates Conference as a volunteer, and was truly inspired by the speakers, demos and panel discussions. Hearing about the struggles and triumphs of small business owners, illustrators, art directors, photographers, and others can help you feel like you are part of a larger creative community in which there are relatable stories.
For a long time we've felt a tug-of-war with the desire to explore and create, and share our material explorations with others, without adding more stuff to the glut of objects in the world. This is one of the big reasons we focus on using recycled and locally sourced materials for our products. The problem of course is that in order to be a sustainable business, financially speaking, we need to make, and more importantly sell, a good amount of things. So yes, we feel good about our materials, and that we are physically making the goods, and that when people buy our goods they are supporting our local economy. However, there is always a push to make more things in order to make more money. How do we balance out economic realities with our core business and personal values?
One of the suggestions we've been hearing a lot lately is that if artists and makers increase the quality and craftsmanship of their products that they can price their work at higher levels and therefore make more money while making less stuff. In theory, we absolutely agree with this concept. The main snag is if you want to make well crafted work and still have it be affordable to a large and diverse audience. Making luxury goods can indeed make you money, but if you're hoping to fuel the democratization of consumption (like we are) we don't necessarily want to focus on making big ticket goods.
When we were initially putting together our business plan one of the things we were told was that you are not necessarily your customer. So we imagined our ideal customer as an eco-conscious consumer with disposable income. And that has been going okay for the most part. But the feeling of wanting to make our products affordable for our friends, neighbors and community in general is one we've kept coming back to. We're still working on balancing out what we make, and how much it should cost. And of course a lot of the same feelings we have about wanting to keep our products affordable applies to our workshops and classes too.
All of this to say that while it's easy to say you're a maker of things, it can be challenging to be a seller of them. We'll keep questioning what we're doing, how we're doing it, and why we're doing it. And while we grow and evolve we'd love to get your feedback as fellow makers and consumers. Why do you think it's important to make things? Why do you buy things from makers?
As you can see from the incomplete post below, the content and photos of what we had been working on has disappeared. We cannot delete the incomplete post (double BLERG!!!) so we are working on recreating the post with its many, many photos and lots of content.
This was our third year attending the annual Friends of Dard Hunter Meeting. The location varies every year, with this year's conference happening in Santa Fe, NM. You can read more about our road trip travel to the conference in this
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Oregon.