Over the last couple of months we've had discussions with other small business owners all over the country: from other brick and mortars to the designers who produce sewing patterns to the indie dyers that create small batch yarn lines. Something that has come up frequently is how we assume that new followers and customers already know our history. This couldn't be further from the truth. And just because there's an "About Us" page or a million posts about your team, that doesn't mean new customers are scrolling through all your back history to learn about your company.
We're taking the advice we gave to a friend and re-introducing our brand and our mission. And in follow-up posts we'll be sharing what we carry and why. Because our shelves are stocked from our specific point of view, what we edit and who we choose to represent in our shop is grounded in our mission.
When you visit gather here in Inman Square it's hard to believe that we used to teach two workshops each day in just 1,200 square feet of space. But somehow we managed it. We had less product but many of the same brands you can find today. We still had a cozy corner to hang out in and lots of sewing machines. In 2012 we expanded to an upstairs apartment above the our original location. We set up another sewing studio and a space for handcraft workshops. And a tiny shared office where the books were kept and full-on warfare with our office printer often occurred. We also had a balcony which was great for dyeing workshops - you could hang dry your indigo projects and then enjoy an iced tea at the cafe table.
gather here was founded by Virginia and Noah, a Filipina-American and a Canadian, who made Massachusetts their home 15 years ago after previously living outside of Storrs, Connecticut. They happen to be married and joke that on their 10th anniversary they gave each other a store. The store birthday is just a day after their wedding anniversary. Virginia is a costume designer for the film and television industry and a former professor of costume design and fashion history. Noah is an assistant props master in the film and television industry and a former lighting designer for the stage. Both of them are really, really passionate about making things.
Virginia manages all social media accounts, selects the products that we carry and brands we collaborate with, writes the newsletter and blog, does the bookkeeping, coordinates each month's classes, as well as teaches intermediate and advanced garment construction workshops. Noah designs and builds gather here's store fixtures and lighting, troubleshoots the POS system (which is a bear), is a Bernina expert (he knows more about the embroidery machines and Q-24 Q-matic longarm than anyone), teaches introductory sewing and needlefelting classes, and keeps our website (online store, class registration, and contact-us pages) functioning. Years of studying design also means they have strong opinions about merchandising and the in-store aesthetic. The two of them designed 1343 Cambridge Street's flooring and fixtures, utilizing non-traditional materials and found fixtures to create something unique and budget-conscious.
Renovating 1343 Cambridge Street was possible because of generous contributions from the gather here community. Thanks to 640 Kickstarter backers, supportive landlords, and city grants we were able to bring 1343 Cambridge Street up to code and replace the old store front with large windows and an accessible front door that is in sync with the overall style of Inman Square. Dedicated storage space, well-lit studio spaces, awesome fabric displays, two handicap accessible restrooms, and a huge front counter were all made possible because everyday people believed in a community-driven retail model. We are so proud of what we built with the community's assistance.
When you visit gather here you'll find remnants of our original location - from handcarved signs to our old counter covered in yardsticks - we upcycled all we could. Even the old couch from our cozy corner but with a new slip cover.