ELEMENTS

Chapter 2 : Lindsay Brook Designs

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Meet your maker

Lindsay Brook Designs

We've said it once, we'll say it a million more times : we are happy to carry locally made goods in our store. The featured vendor today approached us just a few weeks in to us opening and has been an elements tried and true brand ever since. 

 

The part of the story of local makers that intrigues me the most is really the part of our personal story that seemed so impulsive - how, when, and why did you decide to quit your other jobs and choose to devote your time and attention to a single project that you believed in? Johnnie and I dreamed about and pined over this concept for a store for a long time, but when it came to finding the space - we just had to jump, thinking was secondary and we just had to sign the papers and get to work. Why? I'm pretty sure we were and still are a little insane. 

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The how and when: For Lindsay, she was working 2 part time jobs and then added on her seamstress work to make some extra money. Working pretty much all day, then coming home and working more can be exhausting. It took a few Pepper Place market set ups to say "I'm doing this, committing, going full force in to Lindsay Brook Designs". 

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Special pieces from fellow maker and Elements vendor, Small Woods Studio, hung above her sewing machine - pretty good advice from Ron Swanson sewn beautifully by Tammy. 

The hardest part for Lindsay : There is a misunderstanding about having a "craft". It's not just a hobby but it is her career and her business. Yes there is a LOT of sewing but there is also branding and labeling, building websites, pushing your goods at markets, and wandering in to retailers and networking. (All of these aforementioned 'to-dos' on top of the most important task - creating quality handmade goods) Did I mention she was also raising her 3 kids--pregnant 2 different times, in the height of the growth of LB designs? She is a full fledged girl boss. 

But the best part always outweighs the hardest part for her :  "I can be more flexible so I can be more generous". She can rearrange her schedule to be there for her family and friends. And not only has it made her time more open but it has allowed her to contribute monetarily to people and causes and organizations that she finds important. Of course we want our businesses to sustain us but Lindsay reminded me that we also need our businesses to fulfill us in a variety of ways. 

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Through all of our conversation - there was a consistent theme - being generous and mindful. Generous with time and space and companionship. Mindful of her waste, who she was impacting and how she could impact someone more. My time with Lindsay was such a breath of fresh air. To be connected on a personal level with a maker that we carry in store is something I never thought I'd get to have in the retail business. It's not only about selling - the best part to us is this connection. 

Thank you to Lindsay for opening up your home to me.

One Year in the Books

Elements

It's been an informative and exciting year. Mallory and I have learned all kinds of things, some we never intended on knowing.

 

We didn't know all the things we were getting ourselves into when we started peeping into the window with the for lease sign that day. What was important was that we had the gumption to do it. Here we are a few meltdowns and gray hairs later and look what we've done with what little we knew.

 It was a mess when we started. Our background didn't exactly prepare either of us to build out a store from the ground up. We laced our boots and got to work.  We started ripping up the gross carpet (this happens in small strips, not the whole thing at once). We finally arrived to some old tile and upon starting to remove that we found there was actually two layers of tile. Hand tools for scraping tile are laughable. That lasted one day of scrapping and getting no where but tired. It's 2017! i remembered and then rented a machine. After finally getting all the way down to that beautiful concrete. I was so happy to finally see it that i never wanted to forget. I asked Mallory what she thought about the idea of leaving some bare unfinished spots to always remind us of all the hard work we did and to show where we finally arrived. "Truth Windows" keep us humble. We'll never be above hard work. It's what's brought us this far.

Here are other truths we've learned this year:

  • Friends, family, neighbors and the community will rally behind you when your business is honorable and mutually beneficial.
  • Old friends will reappear with the love and support you thought was lost.
  • It is difficult to forecast weather and sales.
  • Every day is different.
  • Civic pride leads us to participate and be an essential part of the change that molds this great city.  
  • Me and Mal, we can survive anything together.  
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It is such an honor to serve the incredible people of Birmingham. 

After all our trials and errors and errors and more errors. After all the back to back trips to the home improvement stores. We still love it and we look forward to learning even more. We have grown as people all the while growing a company and investing in great relationships with local makers, businesses, and communities . It is such an honor to serve the incredible people of Birmingham.