Way too much is happening. My folder of “Posts To Do” has 16 un-written posts! With my current rate of “one post per hardly never”… well, I’m guessing I may never tidy that up completely.
The momentum here is wonderful, very welcomed, and duly recognized by both very observant and appreciative worker mice. Forward momentum! Spring has definitely sprung around Amber Lane. The door stays open to the breeze and community curiosity… I field questions several times a week about the building, the business, and the dreaded “When are you planning to open?”. While I cringe to answer the unanswerable, I recognize that people’s hearts are in the right place… People making small talk and a common and genuine recognition of the urgency surrounding opening a business in order to make money. Honestly sometimes I forget that aspect! I know that sounds weird… but we have every moment of this build out budgeted, including the fact that we aren’t making money now —> but will soon. That’s so ingrained in my understanding of how this process works that I forget that a majority of the world focuses on the “making money” angle as both the means and the end. For me, they’re pretty distinct and singular right now. My means is this renovation, fully and entirely… as we drown in the minutia and swim through the insanity… and the end? We’ll get there. I’m just enjoying the ride as best I can.
I must say though that a key fact that I can release myself to the Here and Now is that we have, finally, secured a loan! Florence Bank to the rescue. Woo hoo! That was a process, my friends. All signs point to closing on Monday so we hold our breath until then but the pieces are falling into place… a long time coming. But it’s pretty great to have an institution believe in our dreams enough to go out on the line for us in a formal, paper work binding, lawyer involved, hand shaking, big money kind of way. It’s one thing to get your mom on board… it’s another thing entirely to get a small business loan. 95% of restaurants don’t Make It. (“Making It” is a concept to dissect in itself… better left for a separate post or by my friends over at Stance On Dance – shout out!). So it’s pretty cool that these dudes in suits are going to help Make It Happen.
FYI… If you are ever going to apply for a loan, give yourself PLENTY of time. And, as I’ve heard time and again, banks loan to people who have money… not people who need money. So, for the love of god, go when you still have money to spare… not when you’re scrapping the bottom of the ol’ barrel. I will forever be thankful we had the foresight to go to the bank when we did…. on February 11. And we will close on May 4. Not exactly the quickest of turnarounds.
Speaking of slow turnarounds… I’m going to post some pictures from half-way through that application process here in this post. I remember the two activities being inter-woven because our loan officer stopped by to see our place while I was working on this project. He took Fitz and myself to lunch, a welcomed break and my first real glimmer of hope that we may – just may – get the loan.
We sat together, the three of us, Mr. Davey in a trim suit… Fitz and I squirming in our renovation clothes, pulling together coherent sentences while we attempted to explain our dreams from the beginning and with context. I remember our loan officer commenting that the underwriters thought we were pretty young – and that we didn’t have a lot of experience. While a completely valid question from a loan officer to two young entrepreneurs who have never owned their own business, it still gave me pause. It made me wonder a little about what exactly “experience” is and where the value is placed by the person asking for it. The extended resume? Experience to run an arts cafe comes not from working in the Industry (which I’ve done for 10 years…) but from Life itself.
From biking through Europe. 3,500 km of navigating country roads in another language with no GPS. A tent, 2 sleeping bags, and some sausage and cheese on the back of bikes with 6 gears.
From visiting top cafes in cities all over the world. And judging them… ruthlessly.
From building out a warehouse in San Francisco. An entire apartment. An art school. In the heart of the SOMA district with no experience in big city real estate. HGTV, eat your heart out.
From working 13 hour days creating IT infrastructure for start ups in the Financial District… and designing and managing an internationally recognized summer program for over 200 constantly moving targets.
From dancing for audiences in China, inside the relative safety of Beijing and beyond into second and third tier cities. Lugging bags through train stations. Tasting foods beyond home on stomachs of butterflies and exhaustion. Bureaucratic requirements, blurred artistic lines.
From driving a VW bus across America and a Bajaj scooter through India. From growing up in a family that drinks coffee like water… variously owning a flower shop, a marketing and public relations home office… a photographer, journalist, writer, interior designer, antique collector, real estate agent… Mother Father… Business Owner… those are our combined daily affirmations of Making It Work.
From me meeting Fitz and Fitz meeting me…. and the synapses finally firing into place. Into Northampton. Into the tumble and bumble of Curio. From googling “How to write a business plan” and every other self-taught How To along this journey, both pre and post-Google. And, really, pre and post Us to a larger concept of Experience.
Experience comes from opening our eyes in the morning and actually looking at what we see.
But Experience is a faulty concept, fraught with the loop holes that loosely hold what we call “Life” together. Our success as a Company – our daily success as People – comes from this jumble of Experience , not the perfect moments of organized education and predetermined Life Lessons. But the complex web. I would have it no other way. We learn as we go.
From Up, we go Down. Putting down the cement board in our Espresso Bar.