Always Evolving-- What we're working on and where we're going
by Ari Takata-Vasquez
You’ve probably heard me talk about it a million times before, but retail is shifting dramatically. We can see this in macro industry shifts and in our own neighborhood. We see this on a large scale— once a retail leader, Sears has officially filed for bankruptcy, and we see it at a small scale with closures of much loved local shops like Laurel Bookstore, our neighbors and friends who shut down after 17 years in business.
As a small fish in an infinitely complex and large pond, we too are a part of the ecosystem and are affected by industry changes. Last year we ran an indiegogo campaign to help us stay in Downtown Oakland after prolonged construction on our block caused sales to decline. We were successful in our campaign and able to stay in Downtown Oakland thanks to our amazing community of supporters and local advocates. The campaign was a real turning point for the business and for me as an entrepreneur. I learned so much from running the campaign, and it gave me an interesting perspective of the role community plays in running a small business. Of course, I’m eternally grateful for all the people who helped us stay here, but what I’ve come to realize is that crowdfunding to keep small businesses around isn’t a sustainable model. It’s an arduous process to run the campaign and is tiring for our supporters as well. Feeling the onus of keeping small businesses afloat as an individual can be disheartening. A recent Vox article dives deeper into this issue (it’s a good read so I’d recommend it) and digs into the role of policy rather than individual action to keep indie businesses in our neighborhoods. We’re at a pivotal period for the industry and for us as a company— these will be the years we look back at and see that everything changed.
A couple of months back, I shared our big vision for the future of Viscera as a brand and a community asset for good. Admittedly, sharing that with the world (a.k.a. the internet where nothing ever goes away and lives in perpetuity) made me a bit nervous, but the response I received was overwhelmingly encouraging and positive— and that’s why we’re doing this after all! We are all much stronger collectively and can make incredible things happen together. Since I released that blog post we’ve been making some moves! I brought on a new co-founder, Jen, who is absolutely amazing to work with and we compliment each others’ strengths. We’ve also launched our new travel line, Trove. We’ve launched this line as a crowdsourced design model which is the natural evolution of our experience crowdfunding and designing. With this new model we create samples, you tell us which items you’d like to go into production, and we make it. We want you to be a part of our process. It’s our first big dive into e-commerce, but it’s one of the ways we’re always looking to grow. Like all small businesses, Viscera constantly needs to evolve, adapt, and grow. It’s not always the easiest path, but it’s what makes entrepreneurship exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring, exciting, and in a word— wild.
Be a part of our new travel campaign!