Well...we did it! Elizabeth Sarah Collections and Philip Bennett Walker officially have a new studio space/headquarters.
Since Boo and Philip pursued their artistic passion nearly two decades ago, they've dreamed of having their own spaces to showcase their work, and curate both exclusive shopping experiences and personal connections within the same location.
Realizing that this dream was closer than they thought, they leapt at the chance to grow their work and retail space, as they take on more projects that require larger space for design and production.
After nearly a year of brainstorming sessions, meetings with landlords, developers and other retail shops around town, there was a lot to consider with upgrading the team work space (in a pandemic).
But the most important step was taking the leap of faith and realizing that in order to grow, we have to have a big enough space to keep up with our increasing orders and inventory.
Elizabeth and Philip not only needed a bigger office for production, shipping, and administrative work, but also a retail space that customers can shop in person.
Having both in one location is obviously ideal, but finding a space that provided an area for us three to create and design, with a large enough storefront for both art and jewelry was tricky, to say the least.
The old Elizabeth Sarah Collections studio was quickly becoming too small, as new gemstones and materials were taking over our production bench, all of our shelves were full, and closets became cramped.
Not to mention, the space was only able to hold two or three customers at once, especially if Elizabeth and I were both working in the studio that day. It could sometimes feel like our office was managing us more than we were managing it, as we were constantly rearranging chairs, tools, and lots of file folders out of our way.
As for Philip, his new, larger canvas sizes were barely able to fit through the door of his backyard studio/mancave, and if he was working on several pieces at once there was no way he can fit them all inside.
Although he always relied on the sunlight and ocean breeze to dry his layers of paint, he couldn't risk multiple pieces getting wet with our unpredictable Florida weather.
After a few setbacks with brick and mortar spaces and some crazy ideas, (yes a tiny house on wheels was also being considered) the Walker's decided on expanding Philip's current backyard studio into a production space not only big enough for his art - but also for Elizabeth Sarah Collections.
COVID-19 also had a lot to do with this decision, as so many brick and mortars took a huge hit this year and there still isn't a clear light at the end of the tunnel for "normal" shopping and dining experiences to return.
So, with this in mind the Walkers took their idea and ran with it - literally - to Home Depot and got to work.
Building out the backyard studio came with a lot of careful consideration and design details to maximize current space both in the new and old studios.
Our old in-home office will still be in tact, but will be transformed into a gallery space to shop by appointment for both the Elizabeth Sarah Collections line and Philips art.
The space is designed to hold more people, conduct meetings, and have the feeling of a personalized, unique shopping experience paired with our high customer service standards.
We also understand everyone's safety concerns at this time, and with the gallery being more spacious than before and with less surfaces, it will be that much easier to clean and sanitize.
If you haven’t seen behind the scenes pics or stopped by to shop yet, the gallery plays on Beth and Philip's Mid-and South West aesthetic with a loungey vibe, and also has plenty of mirrors and natural lighting for trying on our handmade jewelry in its best light.
With the idea for the new in-home gallery complete, Philip drew up some rough blue prints, and came up with measurements for the backyard buildout as well as new outdoor deck space.
Boo and Philip met with their friends who are in the development and construction business and got to work on a budget and materials list.
They are already huge do-it-yourself-ers and planned on building the new deck and doing a lot of the cosmetic work themselves, like landscaping, painting and planning the interior design.
Over the past month, I would pop in between working from home and see the progress every few days, and help here and there with some painting touch ups and organizing.
Our new outdoor deck space also doubles as an outside office where we can hold meetings under the pergola complete with a skylight, and get inspiration from our beautiful tropical backyard.
Inside the new studio is our production space, shipping station and inventory area where we can upload all new products to the website and stage them to be set up in the gallery once they’re complete.
Philips inventory will also be streamlined as I can peek into his side of the studio and see what he’s working on and upload new art for sale as it’s being finished.
That might not seem like a big deal, but this is a huge time saver and just another perk of having this new space. Not to mention, we all won't have to walk back and forth four million times a day, so this upgrade is totally worth it!
I should also mention the very necessary pocket door, so if Philip is listening to Die Antword at full blast, and we're not digging it, we can shut it out and vibe to our own music. This also obviously applies for when Philip is sick of hearing us talk endlessly, too.
Another new feature to the Elizabeth Sarah Collections & Philip Bennett Walker space is a garden dedicated to Puggy Sue. She was our office mascot from day one, came to nearly every event, and was just a best friend to everyone she met.
Sue's Garden was planted to honor her life and her legacy - and now we can look out of our new office window every day to enjoy and appreciate it.
Continuous hard work, endless trips to Home Depot and of course lots of blood sweat and tears went into this project. There were lots of nitty-gritty, challenging and unending days. Some were coupled with both regret, wondering if they did the right thing, while also appreciating the progress made.
But now we can look at these new spaces built with love, intention and passion, and be so proud to have been able to expand, and continue to grow Elizabeth Sarah Collections in our own way.