Artistic Portland we will miss you

25 Feb

If you have been following Entwined Vines for long, you will probably know that 2 years ago we joined forces with a group of creative people here in the Portland, Oregon metro area to achieve a dream. That dream that many artists have of having a home also known as a storefront that people will be able to go a really look and shop not just online or at bazaars or craft shows. No more bouncing all over the place but an actual “home” for our pieces. In the beginning we met a peoples homes to plan and make the paperwork so we could be real and official. The bylaws took a lot of time and discussion but went very well even when people did not agree on something. The whole project flew into being from December of 2012 till the actual storefront was found, contract signed, and doors opened in June of 2013. There where highs and lows but all in all it was an incredible experience! Artistic Portland was no longer a dream but a reality!!!

As a co-operative we all split the expenses and shared floor space. We each had something to bring to the table for experience and ideas as well as sharing the time in the actual running of the shop. This was a great thing as most of us want to have time to create and run our business while still having time to “have a life” with friends and family. We each could sign up for the shifts and pay levels that worked best for our individual needs.

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The first month came and went with our doors open and most of us made our rent and maybe a little more or less from our sales. Things were getting better and better and more people found their way into the shop as shoppers and artisans. We had the usual growing pains of a large group of varied personalities all being “the boss” as we were all equal members of the co-op. We had a great team on the board of directors that were also learning as we went but as adults we were able to mostly work through all that came our way.

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At the end of the first year Entwined Vines did pretty well financially especially since we knew that a store front takes time and exposure to make it work. We had a nice turn around of product. Artistic Portland started talking about having more workshops in our outside and downstairs space as well as opening an outdoor market option to members for the nice weather weekends. We had a large turnaround of members and with that there was a steady supply of new and interesting skills and products. Life and Business was looking pretty darn good so we elected to continue being members and active in working on the Marketing team to help spread the word.

By the middle of 2014 Tammy and I both had so much on our plate with work, health, family and so on, we dropped how many hours we could work in the shop but expanded how much time we could help with the committee including working on the website. It was tough going and we were falling further behind in other aspect of our business such as paperwork, and most importantly – creating. We kept hoping that life would slow down and we could be the members we wanted to be but by the end of 2014 we had to accept that we just did not have the time or energy to give to the co-op any longer.

We also often felt that we were battling an up-hill battle in getting members to understand why certain things needed to happen to help the whole group in the aspect of marketing. We understood that many people did not have a back ground in marketing and that we were all learning as we went, although some had more understanding and experience than others.Many members had etsy accounts and were limited on online marketing experience as etsy made it easy and a bit different that standard social media marketing tends to be. We learned about SEO, spiders, and algorithms in helping to expand our reach online with a shoe-string budget. We learned how blogs and photos can help or hurt a business. We learned so much that we will not look back and wounder why we stayed members or that it was not worth our time. Most of the people we worked with were AMAZING and we will fortunately be able to keep track of each other and so new friendships were formed.

We are no longer members of the fantastic creative forces at Artistic Portland and we will miss all that being a member entailed but we are also grateful that we were wise enough to know when it was time for us to bow out and move on to continue growing our own business in the best possible way we could for ourselves. Thank you all the past, present, and future members that are so incredible we will miss you but we will visit often!

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