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

content at Ace Hotel

shower

content at ace hotel

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.

content at ace hotel

content at ace hotel 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. group 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.   -Will

1 thoughts on Content-ment.

Maba:

Love it!

October 05 2016 at 10:10 PM

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