This months post is dedicated to something that has always kind of been the elephant in the room here. I'll get straight to it--the week that we were written up in the New York Times when we first opened, my sister Annie sternly told me NOT to look at the comments on the article on Facebook. Not that I was going to (I'm a Facebook idiot), but she was worried that in my state of tiredness and fragility that I would be upset by it, as most of the comments were about how this shop even exists, how it pays its rent, how it's probably bankrolled by rich parents, how there's no way that we can make money. She was right, that would have broken my heart.
The thing is, when I first opened the shop our rent was $1,900 a month and I had no employees except my best friend Jackie, who worked on Sundays so I could have a day off. No, we didn't make a lot of money, but besides our overhead (which was nothing by Manhattan standards) and maintaining inventory (which is generally inexpensive) there weren't a lot of expenses. Three months in, after that article hit, I couldn't buy inventory as fast as it was selling. Of course things have slowed down since but the snowball effect that the New York Times article caused has allowed us a steady amount of free publicity even three years later.
Even so, I still have people in the shop and in my personal life give me the but are you guys really doing okay? thing on a regular basis. Admittedly, I'm a little bit offended by questions and remarks like that because yes, we are doing okay. We've always been doing okay and no, it's not easy all the time, in fact, it's actually really hard, but yes, we're definitely, 100% okay. We wouldn't have weathered the storm during our forced closure last summer if we weren't okay and we'll continue to be okay as long as things just simply keep moving. I'll also admit that the idea of having to fund a move and re-locate to a more expensive space scared the hell out of me but I ultimately made the decision to scale up a little bit, to grow our subscription box service to fit our new, giant fulfillment space, to hire more staff to get more done but every day I'm afraid that someday it'll all just stop. I know that sounds ridiculous and maybe it's just the skeptics getting into my head but I also didn't think I'd be suing my landlord over a negligence issue 2 years in. The truth is, this whole process of starting a business, figuring out how to run a business and keeping it sustainable is a million times harder than I ever though it'd be but the other truth is that we are actually making it work, even if it's in our own way. Anything can happen when you have a business but I've developed a pretty thick skin.
Letting us know that you're happy that shops like ours exist is a much better thing thing to say than "how do you make money?" or "how do you pay your rent". Because shops like ours do exist and that's not without a lot of hard work to make sure that things are really okay.
Photo: One of my favorite spots in the shop, the wall behind the desk where we pin and tape cool stuff customers send us!