There are so many thing that inspire me: a colorful sunset, a trip to the museum, a great book, learning a new technique - but one of my biggest inspirations comes from hearing other people's stories. Stories of chasing after dreams, trying something new and pursuing a passion project are the things that really get my heart racing! I've got some new content coming to the blog in coming months, and something I am really excited about is a new series where I will be sharing the stories of creative entrepreneurs chasing after their dreams.
I am kicking this series off by sharing my friends Staci and Sara's passion project, a gallery for makers in Astoria, Oregon called Maiden Astoria. These days it's really easy to start an online business but opening a brick and mortar business is an entirely different (often challenging) experience! When Sara told me they were opening a gallery, I jumped at the chance to follow them throughout the process. I thought it would be really interesting for my readers to get an inside look at the process from start to finish. Today I am sharing the beginning of their journey.
A little background:
Sara Knighton relocated to Astoria from Hawaii a couple of years ago. When she is not working at local hot spot, Blue Scorcher Cafe, she is juggling a screen printing business, weaving on her loom, selling her wares at the Astoria Sunday Market and playing in the ocean. She is one of those people who thrives on making things and loves learning, experimenting and getting lost in the creative process.
Staci Daniels in originally from Grants Pass Oregon and at eighteen moved to LA to attend Otis College of Art and Design. She spent 20 years in Los Angeles working in fashion where she owned her own company. After wanting a change in her life, Staci picked up and moved to Oregon and ended up falling in love with Astoria where she now lives.
The two met in a weaving class at Astoria Fiber Arts Academy. They forged a friendship based in a mutual love for art and craft. With passion for handmade products, the two decided to open up a gallery for local makers - a unique venue to showcase the work of local artisans called, “Maiden Astoria.”
Tell us a little about the location of Maiden Astoria:
SARA: Maiden Astoria is located in the Young's Building. It is located on 14th street across from Street 14 Coffee and next to Gimre’s Shoes. It was built in the early 1900's and is one of the few buildings to survive a massive fire in 1922. The building is a beautiful historical space with great bones and tons of potential. For the last year, I have rented a studio space upstairs and when the retail space below my studio opened up, Staci and I started dreaming big and thinking about possibilities. After a lot of thought and brainstorming, we decided to take the plunge and move forward with our idea to open a maker’s gallery.
What is the space like and what renovations have you have made so far?
STACI: The space has lots of potential! We have about 700 square feet to work with. The front portion of our space will be the gallery and the back area will serve as our studios. The ability to have studio space on site was a really big bonus for us.
The first thing we had to tackle was getting everything cleaned up and then we got busy painting. Things were really dark and dated when we first moved in so we decided to paint everything white to brighten and lighten things up. The floors and walls all got a couple coats of white paint and one wall is painted with a light grey chalkboard paint. Since we are on a budget, we have to get really creative with how we make updates. Paint was one of the ways that we have been able to cut costs but still make a really dynamic transformation.
SARA: Other than painting, we have been spending a lot of time gathering furniture and display items. Again, we are on a budget so it has been really important for us to be creative about the things that we use. We are both big believers in recycling and using what we have, so we’ve been pulling furniture from our homes and shopping at thrift stores before buying something new. We are even using the old radiators from the space (they were going to be thrown out) and turning them into the base of our counter.
What is the next step in the process?
STACI: After we get the painting and updates finished, we’ll be moving in the display and then hanging art and filling the space with handmade products. Amidst all the cleaning, painting and renovating, we have both been working around the clock reaching out to local artists and crafters for work.
Can you share any lesson learned at this stage?
STACI: Getting creative within our budget has really helped us cut costs at this stage. While it would be easy to say yes to all kinds of expensive updates, we’ve been really frugal with all the decisions we have made.
SARA: Test paint before diving in! We made the mistake of painting with a color that we thought was white but it was actually cream. We painted the walls before realizing it was not the bright white that we wanted and had to start all over.
STACI: Since we are working as a team, we've found that it's really helpful to take on tasks that play to our strong points. Sara is free-spirited in her approach while I tend to be more detail oriented. We've found that things work better when we each take things that play to our strengths.
Thanks ladies for letting us peek into your project! I look forward to watching this space change and develop.