"It's time to hire", said my Mom. Until that moment, it had been just the two of us making paper and creating handmade stationery like cards and journals. Occasionally, my Grandmother Allie would join us and make pulp to keep the papermaking going. But she had the habit of forgetting to put the lid on the pulping machine which would cause pulp to splurt to the ceiling causing quite a mess and many good laughs!
We put the word out that we were hiring and soon Kathy joined our papermaking enterprise. Kathy brought her artistic sensibility and no-nonsense approach to making paper. But there was a problem. Between me, Kathy, my Mom and often my Grandma, we could no longer fit into the 200 sq ft basement that was our papermaking headquarters. Bumping into each other, stumbling over hoses and crashing into drying equipment, work was cumbersome, difficult and dangerous.
So it became apparent very quickly that it was time to find a location to rent and move Botanical PaperWorks out of the basement.
We found a home on the second floor at Portage and Smith. Above us, my brother-in-law was running his import-export business. Below us on the main floor was CD Plus, a music store back in the days when music was actually sold from a storefront. The landlord was kind enough to rent us a large, sunny area at a very reasonable price. Almost free in fact. Except for that issue of the exposed wiring.
Long before we moved in, this space had been home to a hairdressing school. It must have been a low-budget move for them, because in their wake they left sinks, sit-down hairdrying units, mountains of hair clippings and metal-wrapped electrical wires which only by accident (think about what that means) did we discover that the hacked off ends were LIVE!
Getting that place ready for our move-in required hours and hours of sweat equity in the traditional sense. My parents, my husband and I scrubbed and purged and painted the floors, walls and ceilings of that place until it was half-way livable. We set up a welcoming blue tablecloth draped table in the entrance way, hoping to make the place a little more homey.
And we set up our desks (1/3 sections of a ping-pong table), our chairs (old yellow cast-off lawn chairs from my parent's previous house) and our computer (by then we had upgraded from a Mac Color Classic to an iMac G3 in Bondi Blue).
Kathy worked with us at Portage and Smith, and soon Deb joined us too. We were a happy bunch, until the day we took a contract to make wildrice paper for a local wildrice producer. And then we found ourselves in a BIG mess that we didn't know how to get out of.
Just joining us? Read Part 1: "Maybe we could make a business out of this" or How I Became An Entrepreneur
Want to see where my company is today? Go to Botanical PaperWorks to see.