Feather & Fox is Fantastic!
July 30, 2014 Written by Joe Menth
Just in case you missed the memo…
While we’ve been churning away on this new website, building a brand new part of our business called Emergent Surfaces for wall decals, wall murals, and custom decor, we also decided to, well…open a whole other business. Because we’re crazy. Feather & Fox opened downstairs from our design and printing studio in a little retail space on May 25th.
It felt like the craziest possible thing to do when we’ve been looking at one of the slowest years in the studio that we’ve seen in a long time. Where did all the artists go to anyway? Why not confound the problem by throwing a ton of effort at an entirely different business model? Sure, why not?
It’s been a lot of fun though, honestly. We saw an open space after our friends closed The Queen’s Buns coffee shop. A couple of months went by, and the space was still empty. And we continued to see a decline in what used to be pretty regular walk-in traffic into the studio. Hmmm…An empty space. Close by the studio. With retail presence up front in the same building. The gears started turning. And then rather suddenly, our partner in creativity and sometimes admin-and-accounting-assistant, Rhiannon (full disclosure: Joe’s partner as well), put her brilliant design sense together with our desire to create a new retail store to showcase artists we love – as well as a whole new line of our own custom designed products. No more than FIVE WEEKS LATER we’d signed a lease, designed the space, cut lots of plywood pieces to build all of our own furniture, displays and fixtures, and stocked the shop with epic awesomeness in time to open right before Memorial Weekend.
It was quite a feat. And yet it took no more (and no less) than a motivation to create something incredible…and a lot of late nights.
What we learned, though, is that you can put a few creative minds together and, as our curator and store manager Rhiannon likes to say, “Make It Happen.”
It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process. Want to start a business doing something you love? Pull together whatever small (or large, if you’re lucky…) amount of capital that you have, put some sweat and passion into it, and make it happen! We really did not have the extra dough to invest in brand spankin new furniture or fancy fixtures, so we built it all ourselves. Without the big bucks, we also couldn’t blow thousands and thousands of dollars on hundreds of pieces of art, books, jewelry and the like…but alas, the artists were not responding as well as we’d hoped to get consignment items in. So we looked up our favorite contemporary funky weird and cool artists from Portland, Olympia, Bellingham and around the region and found how we could invest a little bit into each and every one…and ended up with a diversity of contemporary styles not found anywhere else on the island.
What started as a real desire to simply not see an empty space stay empty turned into a multifaceted plan that worked in favor of everyone. We faced an empty space that would inevitably turn away yet even more potential customers and clients of all of the businesses at Bayview Corner after we lost the anchor of the Star Store Bayview last fall. And yet it turned into a way for a single mom (not single anymore, obviously, but you get my meaning) to eventually ease out of working two to three non-profit admin jobs to support her daughters…as well as a way for our crazy creative minds to express themselves in ways we’ve never really been able to do through a “service only” kind of printing and design studio.
We’re busy creating relationships with incredible artists and crafters, experts in letterpress and laser cutting and metalwork and woodwork. And soon – very soon – we’ll be rolling out all kinds of fun custom product with their help. What we believe is that given the right network of experts, anyone with a creative impulse can create anything they desire. Combine that with the new MakerTron space in Clinton (where you will be able to learn how to make just about anything you can dream of), and the Blue School artist’s studios (that Joe is part of with 7 amazing female artists that will be an inspirational space to see artists at work, and to take classes on the business of being an artist), and soon enough we’ll have a pathway to just about any kind of custom designed product you can think of: things you can hire a talented artist or craftsperson to make, or things you can learn how to make yourself.
Now…it is time to play. Come see for yourself and let’s talk about what you want to dream up, make…and maybe even sell! Our livelihoods can be based on our passions. Just…Make It Happen!