Just over a year ago now - before Little Space Studio had a fully renovated space, a new and growing community of over 60 members, a rental multimedia studio, or even a swank death cafe - we closed our doors for five months. During that time we wondered what the HELL we were going to do but with no choice but to move forward we began the dreaded #pivot.
Though I'm no stranger at being tight on cash... damn, this was some scary stuff. The steps we took feel like a blur now - one layoff, slashing hours, destroying my credit, and literally building furniture ourselves to save money. The decision was already made - we WERE going to get through this. HOW exactly, we had no idea. We were terrified.
Creative grit was more than a cheeky buzzword we honked at corporate America about - it had become part of our unbalanced stress-filled breakfast.
At the center of it all was me, four years into investing in an experiment of social innovation, facing the same question thousands of entrepreneurs were faced with: “can we make it through this?”
My answer, still to this day: I will know when I know, I suppose.
Reflecting a year into this pandemic, we have come to some curious conclusions. One very obvious one for myself was simple: if we can make it, somehow, it will be worth it. Clawing back to a business that is profitable during this time has been extremely painful, personal, expensive, and life-consuming for small business owners. Little Space was its own unique journey. What we’ve built up to this point, and what we’ve learned along the way, is worth every lost penny. Our employees that have got us here - our work family - are also worth any sacrifice that comes with powering forward as a leader in times of widespread uncertainty.
Possibly the most important thing we’ve learned at little space is to keep mental health at the top of our priority list. We ran a small experiment in February called #Brainuary, bringing awareness to our brains, now more than ever, extra love and care. The irony was that we were in such a state of mental stress ourselves the project felt like an interpersonal sabbatical rather than a social campaign.
The experience and the feedback from this campaign was electric. We are a company made up of empaths and a business in a neighborhood historically overlooked and neglected. Because of our positioning and advocacy, we now understand that mental health must become a fundamental piece of our mission. This was, in my personal opinion, one of our greatest discoveries through this experience.
Thank you all. We’re not out of this yet, but there is more hope every day and that sometimes is enough.
This reflection was originally posted on the Little Space Studio Blog.