Archive for March, 2010

Artterro is Growing Up

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Check out our new office! We worked hard on the paint job.

So It’s been awhile since the last post… It’s been on our to-do list, we swear! One of our core goals for the company is to expand the conversation about making art, sustainable business, mom/work life balance, so keeping up on the blog is an important part of that. It’s hard to get to it all, isn’t it? But that’s ok. It’s part of the journey to figure out what needs to be paid attention to at any given time. Trade show follow up? New office set up? Design new kit packaging? Dishes?

Did I mention we moved into our first office? This has been not only a very busy time for us but also a very exciting time too. Both Forrest and I feel similarly about Artterro (our third child) as we do our own kids. We both have 5 and 8 year olds who continue to need lots of love and attention but can hold their own for periods of time. The company also still needs a lot of care but it’s exciting to see it emerge from infancy, and even toddlerhood. I think we’ve just entered kindergarten! And we’re proud (very involved) parents.

We exhibited at Toy Fair in New York last month and it was a fantastic trip. Not only did we get to spend a week in NEW YORK without the daily routines of house and family responsibility but we had a chance to share our story and enthusiasm for Artterro with people from all over the world. We weren’t sure what to expect but prepared well and are proud of our beautiful booth and the overwhelmingly positive response we received to our products. This is the kind of feedback that keeps us going, hearing there’s a true need for accessible, authentic, open-ended art experiences.

Forrest in the Toy Fair booth

It is especially satisfying to watch intent trade show attendees do a double take as they are about to pass by our booth. We ask, “Are you familiar with our company? We’ve created a line of eco-friendly mixed-media art projects with beautiful materials. Made in the USA. At Goodwill Industries.” Their eyes widen and they step into the booth.

We got to talk to store owners, toy buyers, mom bloggers, some very cool company owners like our new friends at Makedo and Sprig. We were able to have real conversations about what sustainability means to us and how important it is to help spread the word. There’s a long way to go on that front. I think the idea of “green” has seeped into mainstream culture but embracing a holistic concept of sustainable corporate structure is still a “luxury” for most companies or not on their radar. As consumers, it’s important we ask more of the companies we buy products from. The goal isn’t perfection but when the guest speaker on the Toy Fair presentation about green children’s products is a marketing executive from Walmart, you know there’s more work to be done.

Jen in the Toy Fair booth

Here's another view of a version of our booth at a different show (NAMTA 2009)

On the home front this month, we reached a huge milestone by officially moving headquarters out of our home offices into a space in the Madison Enterprise Center business incubator! We are fortunate to have a beautiful new home and to be neighbors with some inspiring local small businesses.

We’ve also just hired our terrific office/PR marketing assistant Jessica, who from day one has made our lives easier. It is a pleasure to feel like we are accomplishing twice as much each day because we have help and a central headquarters. We eagerly look forward to being able to further expand our staff and nurture our Artterro family as it grows.

We are never in short supply of big ideas. It’s cultivating the patience needed to achieve those goals that’s challenging. I was recently watching a PBS pledge drive special where Wayne Dyer quoted Byron Katie saying, “Wanting things to be different than they are is the definition of insanity.” (I’m a sucker for new-agey self-help gurus by the way). This simple idea, though, perfectly describes why the mantra of patience Forrest and I have been trying to practice is so important. Things always seem to work out the way they are supposed to because when we focus on what needs our attention at any given moment, that’s the best we can do. Wishing for circumstances to be different just makes it harder.

So, we dream big, move towards those goals slowly, and feel incredibly grateful we’ve come so far already. Now that the new office is (mostly) set up, and we’ve got some help, we’ve arrived at this new place where there’s time to do things like regularly write blog posts! We hope you come back and visit Spark again soon. We have a lot more we want to talk about! Please feel free to comment below, we’d love you to join our conversation.

Jen, co-owner of Artterro