Expansion Update: Ode to Rachael.

We've had a few days post-party to let the dust settle – literally & figuratively – on our new space, and we are jazzed to report that the event was an incredible success. Personally, being so involved with the party planning was an emotional roller coaster. I could feel the excitement our amazing followers were generating on social media, and while this was pretty much the best thing ever and assured me that I was doing my job, it also amounted to some anxiety. The "what if you build it and they don't come?" self-doubt creeped in, especially as the days before May 9th got fewer and the pace around here more frantic. Because of this team and our hard work, led by Betsy & Will, we made it to the party finish line, crossing with smiles on our faces and gratitude filling our hearts. And I'm only being that cheesy because it's true, trust me. While the "betsy & iya buildout" chapter will never truly close as we continue to grow and evolve in this space, we are ending a monumental part of the process: construction. This is the part you've seen in blog posts and social media updates, the visual representations of progress, hard work, and over a year of planning. As construction wraps up, there's a very important person that deserves all the praise we can give her, and that's our General Contractor, Rachael Cook, of Dogwood Construction.

Dogwood Construction, Portland, OR Rachael has been here since day one of construction in Dec. 2013. You can see her surveying progress while I do my documenting thang (L), & having a check-in with crew member, Shoshana (R). I still cannot believe the transformation of this space!

Betsy & Will heard about Rachael's work after she built a studio space for jewelry designer/good friend of betsy &iya, Teresa Robinson of Tiro Tiro, and her gorgeous work left an impression on the bosses. After knowing that she came to us heavily recommend, all I really needed to know to completely fall in work-love with Rachael I learned very quickly: she's a female doing exceptional work in a male dominated field, she is straightforward, and she has one of the best heads of hair I've ever seen.

Dogwood Construction, Portland, OR Collaboration at its finest. "Can we touch base real quick?" checkins were nearly everyday, and it was awesome to see the bosses' visions put into motion by Rachael & her team. If you've read any previous expansion updates, you read how I was nervous she'd in someway think my job - documentation that sometimes led to interruptions in her workflow - was trivial, and that she might even find me irritating, always wanting to pop in and ask a million questions. These suspicions dissipated the instant Rachael arrived to work, and she was accommodating, thoughtful, and just downright fun to be around the whole time. I cannot thank her enough for making my job an absolute blast.

The yin & yang of Rachael faces: super pumped about our new lights (L), and most likely telling me to stop asking when my desk would be ready (R). It occurred to me just how much Rachael has become a part of the betsy & iya family when I was chatting with Ashley one day. When Ashley started here in February, Rachael & her crew had already been hard at work for three months. She told me how it would be so odd when construction was finished because all of Ashley's betsy & iya memories include Rachael being around. I then realized how difficult it would be for me - and all of us - to imagine work without her, too. "Rachael on Ladders" a retrospective. I sometimes struggle to see work in the "big picture" sense, preferring to putz around with the details, down where I can have a lot of ideas, but not necessarily know where/how they'll all fit together just yet. Thus, I have an enormous amount of respect for someone like Rachael who can take a set of plans (details) and execute them to finish a construction project (the big picture), all on a serious time crunch. Rachael takes a hand at the one-of-a-kind cuff making station at our party. Photo by Rachelle Hacmac

The week leading up to our May 9th party was pure craziness. All of us worked beyond the call of duty and I'm so freaking proud of my coworkers for stepping up to make sure this party happened. I gained even more respect for Betsy & Will, who managed a staff, oversaw our retail & wholesale accounts, and dealt with countless ups & downs during the construction process. Who will never ask you to do a task that they wouldn't do - or mostly likely, haven't already done at one time or another. Who sat down in the midst of the never-ending to-do list during party week to write their respective thoughts on the build out (which if you haven't read yet, grab a few tissues and get to it: Betsy's post, Will's post). I'm so happy to be standing in this space, at my own desk, writing this post. To the woman who kept it ALL on track: Rachael, for your tireless efforts over the past 6 months, we say THANK YOU! Also, THANK YOU. Oh, one more thing...THANK YOU!

Rachael poses with her wife Sue & daughter Leone. CAN YOU HANDLE THE CUTE?!?! (nope) Even though construction is done, please know you always have a place here with us. In fact, it's totally cool if you just want to keep coming by the shop to say "hi." Like everyday. Mmmkay, great! See you soon. LOVE, on behalf of the entire betsy & iya family, Anna

***Song of the Moment: Thank You by Led Zeppelin***

Group 7