Monday, March 28, 2016

The Flood

Warning! This is not the light-hearted kind of post you are used to seeing on this blog. Since 2011 I have been running Sucre Shop, pretending (to some extent) that this is a big business, because I wanted it to be a big business. About a year ago, that desire to have a big business changed. I realized that I am not doing the things I like anymore. I felt a lot of pressure to grow, and to keep up. What started very organically, from an idea I had and selling in an Etsy shop, turned into trade shows twice a year which meant a huge investment and weeks away from my family. I don't regret the effort I made, I made amazing friends, meet great connections, learned about running a business. But it made me tired. Like, really tired.
And then a few months ago while I was trying to figure out what I want to do next, there was the flood. My beautiful studio, my dream creative space, the place I worked hard for and in, which was not in a flood zone, took on 3 feet of water when the Meramec river flooded on December 30. It was devastating to see the damage, when I could finally get in there 3 days later, after the water went down and the street became accessible. Chairs, shelves, product, paperwork... so much was ruined.
I had to empty the space so a clean up crew could come in and clean, and a construction crew could cut out the dry wall and do their thing before it became moldy. My friends helped. It was a huge job. It was heart wrenching in a way that is hard to explain. Like everything I've poured my heart into and worked so hard for was getting thrown in the dumpster. When it was empty, I walked away not knowing if I would ever be back.
This is just the beginning. By the end, the sandbags were stacked 6 high.

The truth is, I'm not a big business. I'm just me. There was a time when my product was handmade that I had 12 people on my payroll. But it just didn't work for me. There is a lesson everyday for the 5 years I've been doing this. One of them is to trust your gut to know when things aren't working *before* they fall apart. So, just me. And a lot of inventory.
The bottoms of the boxes on the closest table were under water. Everything in there was trashed.

You can see the bottom two buckets filled with water, to show how high it was.
My friends who helped me move packed things up quickly, and put the box wherever it would fit. I wasn't fast enough to run around and label everything, so I've spent the last several months searching for missing inventory, which I don't know if it's actually missing, or if it was damaged and thrown away. Everything was interrupted, again, in a way that's hard to explain.
Things were knocked over, and floated all around the studio. 
More inventory floating and knocked over.
I'm working now from a temporary space, and trying to rent out my pricey studio for the remainder of my lease. I've been rethinking everything, wondering about next steps, and how to move on with so many things that seem to be against me. Recently, things seem to be looking up! I am still working from a temp space, while paying for my pricey studio. But having some distance has actually been good, it's helped me remember why I got into business in the first place: because I love creating things and meeting creative people. 
If things are getting better, why am I writing this? Because being a small business owner is damn hard, and people deserve to know what we go through to make things work. Because Sucre Shop is me, and I am Sucre Shop. The ups and downs of the business are me; things I go through and things I feel. And as a community, I'm also hoping to have your support to make it through some of the rough times. Thanks for sticking with me!


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