One of our unofficial company maxims here at betsy & iya is do nothing halfway. Another is that failure is not an option. Combine these and add some serious heart, love for the work, perseverance, and the results can be incredible. And yet, despite the presence of these forces in our company culture, I’m always inspired and proud and even a bit surprised when I see the result of work that embraces these tenants. I should be used to this excellence–the awesomeness that we’re capable of–by now. But I suppose if I was, it wouldn’t be quite so meaningful when I recognize it again. All of this was present for me last weekend at Content, a one-night event that invites brands to take over a hotel room, to transform it. Here’s what we did.
We saved notes from our day-to-day at b&i for months. We dug through years old notebooks and sketchpads (talk about a walk down memory lane) and ripped out notes from our first trade show prep, from opening the shop, from old IKEA shopping lists, production lists, new designs, checklists, and more. Any piece of paper you might envision being a part of what goes on behind the scenes here, we threw into a big box (The list-makers out there know what I’m talking about). Our goal was to pull notes, sketches, lists, and scribbles together that show where things start, how things stay organized, get designed, get produced; that the process of creating a piece of jewelry, of developing social media strategy, of staying true to our brand, of hiring, or remembering to call that customer back, or place that order, or sweep that floor, that the process of running a business isn’t some intangible magic, but rather an idea that gets broken into parts, translated into tasks, and accomplished by a team. Most of the time, you see the product of all that. Our idea for Content was to show you the process of it.
*all photos by Margaret Jacobsen
We papered the whole room with our notes. We filled the sink with notes; put them in the shower, on the toilet paper, on the floor. At the tail end of a forty foot-long strip of notes that thrust from the ceiling down into the room, rolled around on the bed, and crept back up a wall, we played a video that our friends at Good Kid Pictures created for us. They filmed footage over the course of a few days just hanging out at betsy & iya. They saw Betsy working on new designs, makers producing pieces for orders we’ll ship around the world, people shopping in our shop, our team doing our weekly cleanup, and our weekly full-staff meeting. They saw our space and our tools, our hands, and our movements. In our paper-filled room, this video was the bold streak of life and color that cut across it all, looping dutifully on a tiny TV screen in the corner.
As tends to be the case with projects I work really hard on and feel successful at, the process taught me something about us as a company, about teamwork, and team-based ideation, execution, and (at the risk of going into super-cheese mode…) life. Here’s what hit me:
- There’s no shortcut to success. It’s only hard work.
- That hard work is many different things. It’s tedious, costly, hilarious, frustrating, draining, invigorating. You must work throughout all the feelings to feel the big success fully.
- When developing an idea, you must simultaneously be critical of it and believe in it. You must identify the gems in it and polish them while dismissing all the other stuff. And you must keep that other stuff handy though, because who knows when you’ll realize the gem you needed you tossed aside earlier. It’s a balancing act of optimism and realism. It’s hard enough to do this as an individual and even harder to do well as a group. We did it well this time.
- Sometimes, when it’s midnight and you’re tired, you should push through and get that last piece in place. Sometimes when it’s 1:30am and you’re even more tired, you should call it for the night and go sleep.
- Good music. Always.
My hat is off to everybody who worked on our room: Barrie, Gaby, Betsy, and myself (can my hat be off to myself?) I was so proud of our idea, our work, our collaboration. And I’m so proud of our inspiration: this lil’ business of ours and everybody’s lists and scribbles that make the wheels turn. We couldn’t have made the room without all the hours and heart that go into running things over here.
Oh, and remember that last lesson: Good Music. Always. Here’s the playlist we blasted all night long. Now turn it up and go get some work done.
What, you thought hotel rooms were for sleeping? Get ready to experience a visit to Ace Hotel Portland in a whole new way. On Saturday, October 18th, we’ll be participating in Content, described on their website as “a living installation” that takes place in the guest rooms on the second floor of the hotel. Each participating designer is given a room to transform into some sort of representation of his/her products, processes, &/or personal inspirations. The result is a gallery type experience that makes the viewer feel like an insider into the world of some of the most creative people in Portland.
This unique event requires careful thought and preparation from designers. They are each given the same amount of space to create an impactful installation that must connect with the viewer quickly; Content is extremely well attended and the hallways fill up fast. I went to the event last year and found something interesting to appreciate in every room.
I’ll leave the concept Betsy’s dreamed up for our room a surprise, but I’ll tell you this much; if you go, you’ll get an unprecedented view into all that goes into making the betsy & iya machine run smoothly and efficiently. Be excited and be ready to beeline to Room 213.
Saturday, Oct. 18th 5-10 PM
Ace Hotel Portland
Tickets available HERE.
Follow on social media –> #content2014
***Song of the Moment: Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees***
Attention Truckee, CA peeps: betsy & iya is coming for YOU!
Our awesome stockist Bespoke in Truckee, CA is hosting Betsy & Will on Friday, October 3rd from 5-8 pm for a Trunk Show at their shop. The chance to meet the designer of some of your favorite jewelry outside of his/her hometown doesn’t happen everyday, so definitely take advantage of the opportunity. And puh-lease, in the name of all that is good and holy, post some Instagrams so I can live vicariously! #wishicouldgo
Bespoke, 10130 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161
betsy & iya has been stocked at Bespoke since 2012 and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the shop and the personal lives of owners Heather & Brian via Instagram @bespoketruckee. Bespoke is a family owned business, they are dedicated to selling items that are made where they’re designed, and their son has his own hashtag; how could I not love these people?
Hope you all have a great time and I look forward to hearing all about it from Betsy & Will!
***Song of the Moment: Walk the Line by Iggy Azalea***
betsy & iya Peeps,
Please join us in welcoming TWO new additions to our popular Bridge Collection, the Steel Bridge cuff & the Hernando de Soto Bridge cuff! Both are now available in our brick & mortar shop and online and come in brass (pictured), silver plated, or gold plated.
These babes have been in process at b&i HQ for months and it feels darn good to be able to reveal them to you. Betsy’s way of drawing inspiration from the architecture, angles, and curves of bridges and turning it into something beautiful and wearable never ceases to amaze me.
Hope to start seeing these on wrists around town & on social media soon!
***Song of the Moment: Everlong by the Foo Fighters***