About three weeks ago, I was asked to write an essay for the upcoming annual Spirit & Place Festival. Their theme this year is Journey. It got me thinking of the many trips, long and short, literal and figurative that I have taken in my life. It wasn’t too difficult to settle on one of my most memorable and lengthy journeys as Pattern’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. The title of Executive Director is one that I’ve just recently embraced, a means of recognizing that Pattern is no longer just a fledgling startup with grandiose ideas, but a legitimate, highly regarded organization making a significant impact on our city’s cultural and small business climate through meaningful partnerships, a biannual publication and now, the opening of a physical hub: the Pattern store.
The Pattern store will play a number of roles in our organization’s growth. It will be
- 1. a retail storefront selling men’s and women’s clothing
- 2. an office for Pattern magazine
- 3. an event venue to host not only First Friday parties, but also trunk shows, trend reports and workshops
The opportunity to have a physical space snuck up on us. Quite frankly, I thought we were still a good couple of years away from that possibility. But, thanks in large part to a very generous grant from CICF, additional financial support from LISC, Riley Area Development Corporation and Horizon Bank, and encouragement from Homespun’s Neal and Amanda Taflinger, Mass Ave Merchants Association, as well as very hands-on logistical help from Riley’s Executive Director Eric Strickland and Riley’s retail intern Rosa New, the reality of a storefront in a fantastic location right on the Cultural Trail with amazing neighbors is becoming a reality with frightening speed.
To be honest, a retail storefront was not an opportunity we were seeking or, initially, very excited about. We had a hard time picturing how to make the leap from an event-driven, volunteer-based organization with zero paid staff and little retail experience to a full time storefront, so we knew that finding just the right person to run store operations was essential to our success. Thus, when Jeremiah Williams — long-time Pattern supporter, blog contributor and fabulous man of many talents — decided to come out of retail retirement to help us launch the space, we knew we were on the right track! Add to that amazing, and nationally-renowned designer Christopher Stuart of LUUR Design who agreed to create a look for the store unlike anything Indy’s ever seen and we knew it was meant to be!
This is definitely an exciting time of growth and change for Pattern. Most changes appear to be positive; a handful, such as the retirement from active Pattern “duty” of Maria Dickman in the spring, and as of June 1, of Benjamin and Janneane Blevins, are less thrilling, but also understandable and, it could be argued, necessary. And the vacancies left by these fantastic and hard working individuals are slowly, but surely getting filled as new volunteers step up to carry on the Pattern torch.
As far as the store, it’s fun to hear the responses from our community. Almost everyone is incredibly excited, seeing this new development as the next natural (and essential) step for the organization to further its goal of helping grow the local fashion community. I have also heard a concern or two, voiced mostly in regards to the store competing with other merchants on Mass Ave. It’s important to let everyone know that we have not undertaken the opening of the store without considering the implications and potential repercussions for both us and our clothing retail neighbors. We are committed to carry an inventory that will not replicate what’s already available in other stores on Mass Ave. Our goal is that the Pattern store welcomes local brands and creates opportunities for them to gain exposure, make a profit and grow. That said, in order for us to be able to help others, we must make sure to meet our own financial obligations and make some extra $$ to help fund events, the magazine, and various other initiatives, which means that we will be carrying plenty of non-local product as well.
Our long-term goal consists of continuing to function as a non-profit, and, filing for our own 501c3 status before our two year retail incubation period concludes. (A huge kudos to IndyFringe and now Harrison Center for Arts for being our fiscal sponsors in the interim.)
For those with any concerns about our newest development, or anything else for that matter, I invite you to reach out to me directly. Those who know me well will attest that I am not easily offended, that I value honesty and constructive critical feedback, and work hard to problem solve in all areas of our organization. No issue can ever be resolved if never made apparent, and no community can ever grow and be strong if its members don’t embrace one another and work together. And truly, I believe that Pattern’s success and growth is because you guys get the above sentiment. I’m eternally awed by the camaraderie, the collaborative spirit and the goodwill that I see around me. I ‘m incredibly proud of all of you and your achievements, individual and collaborative, big and small. I’m so grateful to those of you who have supported Pattern’s growth directly with your time, money, energy and expertise. Many thanks!!
This week Pattern will launch a Kickstarter campaign to help us raise the final $10,000 needed to open the store, fully stocked and outfitted in a way that will speak volumes regarding the calibre of local talent and capabilities of Indianapolis creatives. I hope that you will consider helping us reach our financial goal.
Lastly, I’m so, so very glad to have all of you along for the Pattern ride and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and our great city!