Shop Renos: 7 Months Later & Going Strong

I often spend so much time waiting for something to be perfect, that I never spend time appreciating the progress or the current state. For example, my new office.

Already over seven months have gone by since we first jumped into this new project, and not once have I stopped to look back on what we’ve accomplished.

New to my business? Then you’re probably wondering who’s we? And where is your “new” office? And why should I care about it?

So here’s the story in a nutshell, with some iPhone photos to illustrate along the way because it’s actually incredibly hard to always document my life and work, despite the fact that I’m a photographer.

 

There are actually three stories here that I could tell, or rather, perspectives, but I’m only going to tell you my perspective, and I’ll leave the other two alone.

This past April (2017), I decided to open up a small office in Rock Steady, a local clothing store that’s been operating in Dawson Creek for over nine years. Why the heck would I put my office in a clothing store? Community.

The owner of Rock Steady happens to be my boyfriend’s sister, and the three of us together came up with a plan that would allow all three of our businesses to operate under one roof - Rock Steady, District Co., and Loch Evergreen. We threw this plan into action with barely a second thought, and started the process of moving into Rock Steady. For my business, this meant building a large, moveable wall divider that acted as my office during the day, and opened up to create a barrier blocking off the clothing store by night for large photo shoots or events.

This was much easier on paper than in real life.

So began the renovation and building process to end up with the photo below.

 -a lovely iPhone photo of the current state of my office

-a lovely iPhone photo of the current state of my office

The first thing we did was cover the old linoleum with some fresh new vinyl planks. I knew if I was going to be shooting in the space I wanted a flooring I could work easily with. The stars aligned or something, because we ended up hitting a random sale day when we went to pick up our flooring, and got it for 50% off. We floated the flooring right into the bathrooms as well. Side note: all of Dawson Creek’s downtown businesses seem to be blessed with the most disgusting washrooms ever, or is just me that thinks that? So that was also a priority - making the bathroom feel bright and fresh so that my clients would feel comfortable. If you’re wondering how we did all of this while keeping Rock Steady open, and me still working full time, I’d have to say we couldn’t have done it without the full commitment of his time and energy that my boyfriend gave (and some visits from our nephews).

After flooring and updating the bathrooms, paint came next. We discovered some lovely wallpaper underneath the slatwall on one side of the room, and thankfully it just fell off with a bit of water. We chose white for the front portion of the store where my office would go for two reasons: to provide simple backgrounds for me to shoot against when I needed to, and to help the shop feel more bright and airy. We also planned to hang a lot of local art on these walls, and it’s my personal opinion that art looks best on a background that doesn’t overtake it. I always find it very odd when art galleries or photo studios choose super saturated colours for their walls. Always consider the light that you’re reflecting back on your subjects. 

Moving on - thus began the process of figuring out how to build a 27 foot stable wall on wheels.

There are some things in life that require a great amount of creativity and innovation, and this project was one of them. Say what you will, but I strongly believe that ‘expertise’ sometimes stands in our way. What do I mean by this?

I don’t believe that a Journeyman Carpenter, or a structural engineer per se, would have believed this wall could be built. I don’t think I ever truly believed it would stand until I saw it with my own eyes.

My boyfriend, Kurtis, spent hours and hours, staying up late many nights thinking outside the box, coming up with a plan for how this wall could be put together. Friends and family continuously stopped by and questioned him while he was building it, not believing he had thought it all out. It honestly started to feel a bit like he was building Noah’s Ark, I kid you not.

Finally, the day arrived when we could stand it up, and see how it worked. We asked over 10 of our friends to come down to the shop and help us lift it. 

And it was done.

Nights of planning, and weeks of building, and hoping it would work, and there it stood. It sounds so dramatic, and if you don’t understand how walls are built, probably pretty mundane, but this was a pretty awesome moment. For months after, we hated talking about ‘the wall’, and that it felt like such a simple thing that we had turned into something bigger. But I realize now that wall was pretty symbolic to the start of our new journey, and seeing it stand and knowing that it only worked because of Kurtis’s ability to see past what everyone else does, and come up with a new way for things to work, was a thread of belief that I needed to have the courage to face our new life plan.

 

Once the wall was taken care of, we set to work ripping out the outdated window display, and changing it into a seating area for my office, as well as for the future events Kurtis would hold under his District Co. business (a business that supports local artists through music and art).

One of the best days was when we received our new vinyl stickers for the front windows, and everything started to come together. I had my first meeting in my office, with my iMac propped up on a tiny little side table, using a stepladder for a chair. Then we hosted our first District Co. event, with Shake Appeal being the first band to play in our new space.

It has definitely not been an easy seven months, and entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Even with five years of my business under my belt, this year has still taught me so much more, and I can guarantee next year will be just as big of a learning curve. 

We didn’t have access to a huge amount of funds, and we didn’t have anyone backing us up. We just had a dream that turned into a plan, and now we’re learning how to implement it. Business is ever-evolving, always changing, and you have to be willing to change with it. It’s been fun to see so many new clients walking though my door because of this change, and even better to see more and more people discovering District Co. and Rock Steady. 

Thanks to my sister-in-law for providing the space, and my boyfriend for putting it together, I’ve now taken a few more steps closer to my long term goals, and accomplished short term goals I thought I wouldn’t complete for many more years. This process has taught me many things, but one thing stands out in my mind: we are the only thing standing in our way, and we accept the life we believe we deserve. In 2018 I plan to believe in a better life.

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