Tony and I have been plugging away at Spilled Ink Press for just about 9 years. There are a few pinpoints in our timeline that are important ones- whether we realized them or not at the time, looking back you can say, yep, that’s where things shifted.
Here they are…
June 4th/ 2005. We got hitched. We had been together for YEARS before then, but it put in motion our move back to Chicago (we were having fun in San Francisco for a while), and also was the change in scenery that got my friend Alieen saying, “so, you are doing this Spilled Ink Press thing now. For real…. ” and she started introducing me to our coworkers and friends as “Amanda, architect and really a great invitation maker”. It was key.
March/ 2006. So we did it. We incorporated. We’re an S-Corp and when people ask why, we say, “I think someone explained to us back then that it was better for us… but we don’t remember why”. We knew nothing (and still don’t know much, honestly). But we were legit on paper, the federal and local governments now officially recognize us and are eagerly awaiting us to start making “real” money so we can give them taxes (that wouldn’t happen for a few years though- so says the reassurance of our amazing accountant).
September/ 2008. I walked away from that cushy architecture job, nervously, to work on Spilled Ink Press full time. So we thought, ok. Here we go. Sink or swim. We had a little bit of a nest egg to lean on for a while. It was supposed to be our down-payment to something, but we’re really bad at committing to anything more than an apartment lease, so starting a company and putting all your eggs in one basket felt like less of a risk. *Did I mention we didn’t know anything?* October is when the market crashed and so many more architect friends got laid off. I often wonder if I had only waited a month if I ever would have had the nerve. This is when we REALLY learned how to live lean. My mother in law gave us gift cards to Potbelly’s as birthday and holiday gifts, if that gives you an idea.
…and we plugged along for 4 years. Things were good. We learned a lot about running a home-based business with each other. We did things, and people gave us money to do so. All in all, everything was moving in the right direction. But what was our next step? There was a next step out there somewhere but I struggled with recognizing it. It started to feel a little wheel-spinning-y.
February/ 2012. *I just deleted and long sappy paragraph* Let me just say, the amazing Ann sent me a message on twitter, asked if I wanted to sell our cards to her because she had a new grown-up store in the works. I replied with, “how about you sell US in the store too”. I’m still mildly embarrassed at my boldness. We had never met, just were twitter buddies. I didn’t know anything about the store, and she didn’t know anything about Spilled Ink Press, really… but for some intuitive reason on both our parts we confidently thought we were on to something and set up a time to meet over beer (at Revolution). It almost from the beginning wasn’t a question of if, but of how. Hello, next step. Nice to meet you.
June/ 2012. Shop 1021 opens. Ann is taking another gamble on Logan Square (owner of the already established and awesome *Play) and on us. We were also taking a big step- we now officially have over-head, our name on a door and an address that we don’t sleep at. We rent out the corner of Shop 1021 and our business model shifts ever so slightly. Its forced us to make grown up decisions, solidify our operations, pricing, marketing, product offering. We now see the small-business world through retail glasses, and what we’ve learned still doesn’t come close to what we still need to figure out, but we’re getting there. I’d say the biggest challenge is that Ann and I challenge each other so much to grow and do new things that it’s just hard to figure out how to do all the things we want to do! Ah, if only time and money fell from the sky the way the snow did this winter…
So the reason for walking down memory lane here (it was a long way around… if you’re even still with me here), it’s that the Shop 1021 TWO YEAR anniversary is this weekend. Come by and have a drink with us on Saturday/ May 31st. All are welcome. We’ve learned over the past 2 years that we like to throw parties, and we’re good at it. See you at 7pm. Come ready to be happy and say officially HELLO SUMMER!