Monday, November 30, 2015

Autumn marches on



Something about the last week has made it apparent that we are now on the verge of winter. It's easy to stay rooted in fall, easy to fake it with stuff like butternut squash recipes or chrysanthamums. The weather in the north east has been exceptionally mild (here I am, talking about the weather - as if there were not other looming topics at hand) and it's caused me a sort of seasonal disorientation. What month are we in? I'm constantly checking the date.


Walking in Brooklyn hot wind blows leaves and dust particles in my face. It feels like a dystopian future which I sort of love you know. We've rented a new space for Saipua, 5 blocks from our old studio and we are in the process of trying to figure out how to make it look and also how we can accomodate the rent which is four times the amount we pay now. This big move will also require an expansion of our staff; we're imagining adding five more full time people to our staff in 2016. It's easily the biggest moment of risk we've had in the almost 10 years of Saipua.
We start by getting organized...


I've spent considerable time looking at numbers. This is a shift for me since I usually shrink away from numbers. I have a hard time paying my own bills. My credit card is regularly declined because I forget to pay the bill. Recognizing your weaknesses is the first step to addressing them.

We look at projections. Can we grow our event business to double our sales in 2016 which is what will be required for all this growth? Confident, sometime cocky - I'm all YES. DONE. But I question whether it is physically possible for our team to make double the weddings, double the events? Can it scale? Can we give the same level of service, the same attention to detail?



And then sometimes I don't want it to be bigger because I'm relatively comfortable with Saipua as it is. But the reality is that I've got a lot of big things in the works that are at a stand still (the FARM; my castles of the world RETREATS for creative women; my textile and ceramics STUDIO; my floriculture RADIO station, my astrophysics + floral PERIODICAL) because I don't have the captial to invest in them. And also, more importantly - we're not going to effect real change in the industry unless we control more of the dollars in that industry. It is our clearly defined mission at Saipua to make a positive environmental shift in the floral industry: to convince more people to compost, to have more people pay attention to where their flowers come from... so we push on.
We consider loans and investors...


All of which I veto in the first meeting. The loans we look at require collateral, we have none. When we talk to our business advisor about investors she tells me to start with my family and friends. I laugh. We opened Saipua with $2500. Theres a lot of spirit and hard working people in that circle, but no real juice if you know what I'm saying.


But before I get seriously discouraged or spend too much time spinning wool (literally) and thinking about how much I can charge for the resulting yarn I remember our most valuable asset at Saipua -- our community and network of creative, hardworking people. And I'm thinking -- what is it we can't do with these people? Build a barn? There is way to figure out how to build a barn if we have enough hands. Buy equipment for a ceramics studio or radio station? There's enough creativity and spirit at Saipua to organize a hundred plant sales. Print my occult floral astrology magazine? How many of you would pre-pay for a subscription, raise your hands...



So, we march on towards that vision one step at a time, thinking creatively and outside the box. Making the best flowers we can, reworking plans, rewriting the rules constantly. Because I am such a goal oriented person so it is frustrating sometimes to not move faster. When I was a little girl, I wanted to always be 30 years old. Then I could buy whatever breakfast cereal I wanted, among other tantalizing adult privileges. I remember once getting excited about a class picnic in the park. I was making a mixtape (!) and choreographing a dance routine. I intricately planned and acted out many of the anticipated social interactions...


Then at some point prior to the picnic I began to realize that said picnic was going to actually happen and be over. That the anticipation of it was in some ways most of it. This made me very frustrated. 



All this is to say that I am trying to enjoy the process of getting there. I get bored even writing that sentence. People who live in the moment don't get shit done, and I like to live in a constant state of shit-getting-done. But the other thing that is occurring to me is that if I continue to jump from one goal to the next without awareness and enjoyment in the journey then I'll be dead. Because life will speed by. 

Animals help with this because dogs and sheep are always just living right in the moment, and to watch them is to imagine that singularity. 

Chickens are living in the future, I can't tell you why I know this but I do.







23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here I am thinking I was the only one who wanted to be older for the sake of cereal choices. Exciting and Inspiring to see what this becomes!

katie fritz said...

yo i will pre-pay for that astrology floriculture subscription AND i have experience with ceramics se maybe we can do a SKILLZ TRADE.

Angie Tomey said...

Brilliant!

Sally said...

The final sentences of your last two posts have been spot-on/full of wisdom :) Thanks for sharing thoughts on the logistics of expansion and doubts, frustrations that come with it.

A. Nightmare said...

Signing up for floral occult magazine, please.

Heather said...

If I had bags of money I would give them all to you Sarah because I want to see you achieve all of those goals. Thank you for being endlessly inspirational. Oh and congratulations on the new branding and website. It is simply stellar.

Anonymous said...

O M G...! Please make happen your floral-astrology-occult-magazine. And I would definitely prepay for it. Would the chickens read the future for us?

Shelley said...

I'm surprised that a brand as strong as yours can't be collateral. On the other hand, when you borrow money, you have to always pay it back...bummer.

LPC said...

Ah well now you are entering our territory. You scale via company culture, replicable training, and leadership - symbolic and operational. Sounds bad but it's actually wonderful, and my favorite part of management. I bet you can find someone on your side of the country who has taken something and scaled, and they'd love to coach you. xoxox.

Elizabeth Aley said...

I'm in for the floral astrology periodical too.

Karina Lane said...

I want to buy your yarn!

Caitlin Jennings said...

I would totally pre-pay for a sub to your magazine. Perhaps it can take inspiration from this: http://invernessalmanac.com/

Rodi said...

Well, now the only thing I want in this world is a subscription to a floral occult astrology magazine. :)

Joan said...

Floral astrology zine??? Sign me up!

Annie Beedy said...

Sign me up for your occult floral astrology jammer. I'll pre-pay the heck out of that!

Eli J said...

I'll help you set up your ceramics studio! You're killing it, woman. Brava!!

Christina H. said...

I love the way your mind works. You inspire me, so many of us! I'm deep in the middle of the Shawnee Forest but you have the ability to touch so many of us, and plot our visits to your world. What a gift you have for bringing it all together. Creative women everywhere will raise their hands to share their gifts for making the right things happen!

Lucy Thomas said...

Raises hand, a thousand times yes.

Rebecca M said...

I know the investor/strings attached sucks, but have you looked into grants for women entrepreneurs? I like this source: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/small-business-grants-for-women/

I also wonder if because you have a focus on environmental change, if the realm of impact investors who usually don't expect the immediate ROI, would be a better fit. Or if there are any established floral industry groups that are giving out awards/money for people, such as yourself, who are advancing the industry.

Or if natural dyers are willing to start buying some of your compost to use as dyestuff...

Another good resource would be Etsy Foundation's "Regenerative Entrepreneur" pilot that is running right now. The resources are public, even though the next session wouldn't be until next year. http://www.etsy.org/pilot_program/

I could go on! You're doing something so special, that there's no doubt you'll make it happen.

Beth said...

Well, I'm in. Barter, barter and more barter...and a little venture capital.

Mister Mister said...

Count me in for the magazine! I'll even help you put it together if you need a hand.

brittany said...

Dollars aside, your work and attitude have changed the floral industry for me greatly. I used to work for a shop that turned out tired wedding work with a smile and a stick up their ass, they claimed to be "green" but it was an unfortunate buzz word tacked on to make green. I was disheartened because my love of flowers seemed so childish, honest and meditative. Through my little Internet outlet into the world of Saipua, I learned that my bad experience wasn't the norm & if you do the work you believe in you will draw in support that allows you to be honest and effect change.

I started my own business a year ago and cannot wait to see it grow further. Thank you for keeping it real, being jocular and accountable! Hope to give you a high five one day.

Kate said...

Two true things about dogs: they are utterly themselves, and they are what people should be.

Speaking from personal experience, in the beginning you fear failure because of loss of face. But once you've actually built a business and a community around that business, the fear is a bit different, because now you actually have something to lose. I don't think that fear ever goes away, but maybe it also makes us braver, to face the risks we must take to grow.

Wishing you strength and joy in the risks ahead.