A few years ago, I transitioned from climbing the corporate ladder to running a sole proprietorship. I certainly had a few fears leading up to that transition - but which of those fears were real, and what big challenges in that transition were unexpected? What are some things to consider if you are contemplating a similar move?
San Francisco has an amazing maker community with a strong visual bent , as seen at an event co-hosted by The Midway, Pier 70 Partners, and Marpi. From an unexpectedly beautiful laser-lit fog, to a TV (or art display) with pixels mounted a few rotating arms, to an art installation featuring the exposed structural elements of Pier 70, come with me on a journey through a few of the highlights.
A break from the regularly-scheduled programming on art, woodworking, lighting, and the like, to be replaced with a brief rant on our current politics and a call to action for increased civic engagement.
I see so many amazing artists and craftspeople at the shows I’ve done, at past gift shows I’ve attended in New York, and in wandering the furniture stores in San Francisco. Even a “highlights” reel would take too long, but these three businesses - Modern Cellar (by Tim Krablin & Melliza Taipe), The Art of Motion Control (by Bruce Shapiro), and Phuze Design (by Orfeo Quagliata) would be at the top of just about any list I would create.
Halfway through my first year of business, I reflect both on the recent business growth (and challenges), and the more distant past that got me to this point. I gained my patience, perhaps even joy for, retail from many years helping (and learning from) my mother in her business in Rochester, New York, and looking back on that brings up a few embarrassing - but thankfully low resolution - photos.
I like to think that I make nice stuff, but I obviously don't do it in isolation. I want to take a few moments to acknowledge two small companies with whom I've done a fair amount of work: a vendor who does beautiful cut glass and finished pieces, and an honest and helpful general contractor who does amazing remodels.
Going from a few products and the idea of starting a business, to a business ready to face the world, is a lot of steps. There’s the administrative piece related to registering the business, insurance, and the like; the workshop logistics as I go from making one or two of something at a time to a few dozen; and since I’m exhibiting at shows, the preparation for that, including figuring out your tent, tables, displays, and how to get there. While everyone’s journey in this process will differ, this article shares a few of the steps along the way in my journey to get to my first show.
The journey from technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to wood artisan was not something I would have expected even just five years ago, though the seeds had been planted in my childhood. This article shares the journey and motivation, learning the basics of woodworking and carpentry as a child, building things for myself and friends over the years, and an occasional day with Habitat for Humanity.