October Letter from Ari

by Ari Takata-Vasquez

It’s finally Fall and as you may know, it’s my favorite season! This year, Fall feels particularly exciting for a few reasons: we’re about to celebrate five years in business, we are finally out of the construction zone (if only you could see how big this makes me smile!), and we have a bunch of creative projects and events in the works! Maybe it’s because 2020 is a little over two months away or because we’re approaching this milestone with the business; but either way, I’m feeling particularly hopeful for the things ahead in the next decade. Roaring 20s here we come! Now, this isn’t to say that things still aren’t difficult (i.e. blackouts, politics, and climate change), but maybe 2020 is the fresh start that we all need so we can leave behind what no longer serve us in 2019 and just take what’s useful into 2020. In writing this letter, I wanted to give you an update on what’s happening at Viscera, what you can expect for the remainder of 2019, and share a few of my favorite things from around the community that is making me love Fall even more. 

Firstly, we’re about to celebrate five years in business! It’s gone by in a flash, but it also feels like I’ve been working on this business forever all at the same time. A lot has gone into this business and while we’ve had so many amazing milestones along the way it still feels like there’s so much more work to be done. This journey started with what I can boil down to two major goals:

  1. Connect people with the things they buy and the people who made them
  2. Create calm and ease through a simpler approach to getting-dressed and living

While those two goals sound simple, achieving this involves tackling our existing consumption habits, global production models, and the bleeding line between work and life. Each of these topics I love and they all have so much potential for innovation and growth, but are ultimately are big issues to tackle. I’m proud to say that we’ve made a lot of headway in our first five years-- we’ve raised awareness of the importance of  shopping locally and USA-made through our press features, provided a platform for so many makers/designers/craftspeople, and every year a bigger percentage of our inventory is made right here in Oakland. We’re on track to have our 7,000th order by the end of the year, which translates into 10,000+ items. Behind each and every one of those items is a person who’s put hours and hours of work, passion, and dedication into their craft. 

We’re also lucky enough to have an amazing customer base who share their stories with us-- how a gift helped them say what words couldn’t, or that an article of clothing is part of their signature look, how that outfit gave them the confidence to kill it in a presentation or an apothecary item that reminded them to slow down and take care of themselves. We treasure every one of these stories. We are so grateful that we get to be a part of your lives and bring a little bit of peace to hectic days. Running a business can be brutal-- there are so many demands and it’s a delicate balancing act, but knowing that we’re able to make a positive impact makes it all worth the hard work. 

We are certainly going to take some time to enjoy this milestone by doing a happy dance, eating ice cream, and maybe (definitely) throwing a party to celebrate, but we also have more work to do and big plans ahead! You might remember in 2018, I shared our big vision for vertically integrating our products; meaning we design, make and sell all of our products under one roof. Like with many big plans, it takes big resources, which have been slower to gather than I had hoped.  My goal was to make this shift by May of 2019, but alas, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We do have some things cooking to make this vision a reality (that I can hopefully share very soon) but we nonetheless, we have made progress! At the end of the day it’s about the journey, right? Our V by Viscera ingredients  are all sourced from our neighboring city, Richmond, from an all-organic distributor, we’ve expanded our “made here” offerings to include fiber necklaces, earrings, and home goods, found local partners who will help with our digital fabrication, and have increased the number of Oakland makers we carry! We still have more to do, but if you’re interested in getting involved, drop me a line.

Now, onto the next topic-- we have a sidewalk! After two challenging years of construction on our block, we are through the dip and can get back to business. We’re so excited to have more folks living next door to the shop and for our beautiful block across from Latham Square to fill out. If you haven’t been to our neighborhood in a while I’d love for you to come and visit! The shop is stocked with lots of new products, we have some workshops scheduled and a very exciting and spooky Halloween party

I hope to see you soon! 

Good Things this Fall 

  1. Our newest stockist, Bloody Girl Gang is doing a month long challenge called “Bloody Plantober”! It’s a daily challenge that includes plants and creativity, how could it get any better? 
  2. Our friends just opened an awesome bar, Cafe Encina in Temescal and their grand opening is this week (if you follow @AriMadeArt you might recognize the mural) 
  3. If you don’t know Teas with Meaning, your missing out-- our friend Kamilah makes foraged teas that are great for colds.