I've been fairly absent for the last month - for good reason:
I opened up a shop.
Me and my dear jewelry friend, Hannah Parks, started Ladysmiths of ATX back in May 2019 as a place for women jewelry makers to come together, get to know one another, find resources. Basically to build community and elevate each other up. Initially we made an Instagram page and I announced it in my BossBabesATX talk On Synergy.
In August, my friend Akki mentioned that Big Medium was erecting trailers for artists in Canopy and was looking for tenants. It felt like a stretch, but I reached out to see if maybe me and Hannah could get a trailer together. At that point there was a waitlist and the trailers were geared towards fine artists - we didn't have a chance.
Fast forward to Friday, October 25th when me and Hannah get an email saying there is a trailer available for a November 1st lease date. That entire weekend became a blur of phone calls and text messages back and forth. Could we afford the rent? Should we bring other people on board? How many more people? Then Hannah had the idea to make it a Ladysmiths trailer and we had to figure out how we were going to accomodate people. Over those two days we exchanged hundreds of messages and dozens of phone calls. Once Monday came around, we hit the ground running trying to find a few other people who could help us run this thing. It was a big ask. We met with quite a few people, people agreed, people dropped out. Chelsea was the first to commit - and she was in Japan on her honeymoon. We couldn't find anyone else to commit - so at one point we drove to Vesper because I knew my friend Zanny was at an event there and we needed at least one more person. She agreed immediately.
The lease started that Friday. We still hadn't given them a definite 'yes' or 'no'. Hell, I don't think we even knew if we were doing it until the lease was in our inbox, ready to be signed. The lease needed to be signed by 11 so I could get all the proper forms and permits before the city office closed at noon. Well, there was a mishap and Hannah didn't receive the lease when I did. I signed my copy of the lease and hopped into the shower not realizing anything was off. I got out, realized what happened, calculated how much time we had, mediated the situation - got another copy of the lease sent over, printed out the forms, jumped in my car, drove 40 minutes to Barton Springs and made it to the permitting office seven minutes before they closed. Me and Hannah were there for an hour, but somehow we got everything taken care of - completely subsisting on adrenaline alone.
Adrenaline and community powered us through the next two weeks. People donated money to us, people came out to help us paint, people helped us design the space, people helped us design our website, people came and photographed us, people shared what we were doing. We couldn't've done it on our own.
We somehow finished within two weeks - in time for EAST - selected 14 other jewelry makers (a fraction of those who applied), filled our shelves and opened our door. Austin showed up in droves. The two weekends of EAST were absolutely nutty. Thousands of people filtered through our singular door and showed us just how much they cared about supporting local artists. I'm so proud. There were a few bumpy moments - two thefts - but then our community showed up to give us extra support to make sure it didn't happen to anyone else.
I haven't been able to sit in what we've accomplished because it overwhelms me and I might start crying happy tears. We're still figuring out the kinks - the best way to pay out our artists, divvy up roles, build a schedule, etc. It's the long term things we have to figure out now.
But we'll figure it out.
Y'all have our back.
I don't doubt it for a second