WARNING: this is a sappy one, folks. Read on, if you dare.
When I started b&i in 2008, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea where it was going. I really didn’t even know where I wanted it to go. I just knew that I wanted it to go somewhere.
Last weekend at the anniversary party of our retail space, I had many waves of awe flow over me. I feel it at times when I’m listening to music. The music sort of sends me into a spin and I brush up against moments of deep reflection. It’s that inexplicable feeling of gratitude and love. I hope you all have felt at least a glimmer of it from us, as you’ve stepped into the shop, opened a tin of earrings, laughed with us at an event, etc—we hope you feel our deep appreciation for you, because it’s there–>> so big.
In this post, I’d like to focus on what happens behind the scenes at b&i. There was a time when I did it all alone. I faked my way through accounting, filled a wholesale pack and made gut-turning cold calls at cute shops, made every single piece of jewelry that left the studio, set up – sold and took down every booth at every single street show Portland has to offer, didn’t sleep, didn’t take days off. Yep, I did that. At certain points, though, I discovered there was no way to move forward without asking for help. And so I started asking…and I never stopped.
My boyfriend was a huge support from day one–playing with his band at my first opening, bringing me food when I’d forget to eat, telling me he believed in me and the crazy thing I was doing with my life, making me leave the studio and get breaks of fresh air. Halfway through he became my husband and soon after that we (oh-so-scarily) decided that together, we do things better. So he quit his job and joined me at b&i. Deep breath. I had one employee at the time. He leapt in head first and grasped the company as if it had always been his own. I felt like a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. There are things he does that I will never be able to wrap my brain around. Things no one will ever see (like the most beautiful spreadsheets you’ve ever seen in your life). Things that only I, his partner, have the opportunity of appreciating. He has a wild-hair spirit like me, and when we both believe we can do something a little insane like cross-country sales trips (his idea), spontaneous expanding into a full-on retail space, or creating a madly successful city-wide Black Friday event in only 3 weeks, we go after it HARD. Not to mention all the day-to-day things: uhhh..building the shop, budgeting, buying product, shipping online/wholesale orders, customer service emails, e-newsletter, social media, payroll, ahhhh etc etc so much. There is absolutely no chance the company would be where it is today without him.
…OR the others. We are a team of 7 (just became 8 this week) and every single one of us makes this thing move.
Oftentimes people confuse me for being the only one who runs this business. I tend to get a large portion of the thanks and love notes. My name is on the door and this company has my heart, yes. But it’s MUCH more than little ol’ me.
I deeply deeply appreciate and love you all. You all are the ones that really make this roll:
Amory, you are a better production manager than I will ever be. I am in awe of all that you do.
Matty, you have lit this place up with your inimitable customer service. You are the best task-juggler I’ve ever known. You make me laugh every day.
Alyssa, you have hands of steel and a heart of gold. You are so weird (just like me) and we are so lucky to have you with us.
Kelly, you know how to make our customers feel as special as they are. You go above and beyond and it shows.
Barrie, your ideas blow me away. You and Kelly have already done so much more than we hired you for—dream employees.
Kate, welcome aboard!! I can already tell you’re going to be the best shipper this side of the Mississippi.
Will, my partner, my love, you are the reason we are where we are today. I’m so glad we took the double-jump-stomach-dropping-tingling leap. I’ll do it again with you…any day.
It is definitely impossible to express in words just how grateful I am that you all have believed in me and b&i enough to join in and take it to the next level, and the next, and the next… It is because of you people that we are able to do what we are doing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you so much for all that you do.
***Song of the Moment: Court the Storm, by Y La Bamba***