Cuz Yea, I’m An Entrepreneur Now

This summer, a young woman by the name of Mia Sakai reached out to me about starting a company designed to “deconstruct the mystery of building a business from the ground up, one story at a time”, POLYNATE. She wanted to interview me, could she stop by some time?

Having benefitted myself from kind strangers responding to my ‘cold’ emails, I was more than happy to oblige, though I have to confess there was a part of me that thought:

“Wait, me? Don’t you want business owners? Oh. Right. That IS me now.”

And so, on a day so hot and bright her iPad suffered a heat malfunction while recording, we sat down and talked business.

You can read the interview in its entirety here. She asked me really thoughtful and practical questions, and it turns out I had an awful lot to say about how I got here. (Said everyone about themselves ever, I know, haha!)

And while it was kinda surreal to be interviewed as a business owner for the first time, it was even MORE surreal to see my answers all laid out on her beautiful website.

And I honestly got a little dizzy when I realized this was not just a pretty graphic of hotel-esque images but rather, an actual timeline of my LIFE leading up to opening:

I often describe my year at NU Hotel during which I was a Front Desk Agent/ bar tender/ bell hop/ anything-they-effing-needed as a “montage”– the working-my-way-up montage that I unfortunately had to live in real time with no peppy movie soundtrack at near minimum wage. But here it was! The actual montage! All finally behind me.

Yea, it’s still weird. I mean, we’ve only been open a few days shy of three months. And we haven’t even lived up here for a whole year yet. I still say things like, “We just opened”. But now comes the rest of it. The running of the business not just planning for it, the continued growth. The numbers that aren’t just projections but actual data from actual occupancy reports and such. The payroll taxes and re-ordering of bulk soap, the catching up on laundry, the changing menus and decisions about what types of advertising are working.

I’m happy to report I FUCKING LOVE IT.

Yes, I get tired sometimes. (Did I mention my Friday shift is fifteen hours long?) And yes, I get annoyed and overwhelmed sometimes. (No I’m sorry, I’m not gonna tell the Internet about those guests right now, haha!) But this, all of this, is what I’ve been working for. And it’s making people happy. So happy! And that just makes me want to cry it makes me so fucking happy.

On the tough days I wonder if this is really enough to give the world. A little hotel in the middle of nowhere? But on the good days I know that this is about memory making, about giving a whole slew of people the respite and inspiration they need to go off and be better people. And that’s more than enough to keep me going.

 

I Love Lamp: Hallway

Our upstairs hallway is getting a bit of love. Here’s what it looked like Tuesday afternoon before I decided I absolutely needed to fix it that very instant.

Which I totally did in just one day!

Or not.

I know I keep posting “Before” photos and no “After” ones, but that’s because we’re kinda “Somewhere In Between” on just about every house project at the moment. Which by the way is driving us a little NUTS. I nearly screamed into a pillow Tuesday afternoon when I was trying to open the bathroom window so I wouldn’t die from wallpaper remover and paint fumes and for life of me could not do it because it had been painted shut from the outside.

I called my mom and felt better, then Steven used his super strength and opened it for me. Aka, support systems are very much necessary when renovating an old house.

It’s so tempting to just want to be DONE with all the work. But what is “done” anyway?

Ok fine, fine, I’ll take “very nearly finished”, how’s that??

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

 

I Love Lamp: Baobab Interiors

I came across the Tumblr Baobab Interiors and it was almost too much.

Whitewash? Moroccan riads? Certain kinds of statement chairs? Concrete floors? It simultaneously filled my heart and made me feel the teeniest bit sad. Sad in that way when someone else nails so many things you love and it makes you realize, “Oh right, I’m SUPER ORIGINAL.”

It also kind of reminded me of this hilarious bit about having too many gummy bears.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Minimum Wage For Artists?

Hyperallergic just ran this fascinating interview with the folks of W.A.G.E, aka “Working Artists for the Greater Economy”.

The heart of the idea is to stop the race to the bottom when nonprofits pay artists by basing compensation on the company’s overall annual expenses. (As well as the race to the top interestingly enough..)

As someone who has participated in art shows for “exposure” and done excruciatingly low pay design work for nonprofits before, this seems like an amazing idea because at the very least it’s a place to start.

A lot of time these companies are good at valuing other services– accounting, legal, even catering– but anything remotely “artsy” becomes a too nebulous for them. “What is art worth?” they start asking, when really they should be asking, “What is this person’s time and the function of what they will produce for us worth?”

It reminds me of all the important issues Robert Levine brings up in his amazing book Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, And How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.

Check out the full interview here.

I Love Lamp: Saddle Up

When we moved up here 10 months ago, I made a list of things I wanted to fix in the house within the first year. And I wrote it down because it’s really, REALLY easy to just get used to things. “We’ll fix that soon” becomes “we’ve been living with that for five years” very easily for even the most design obsessive folks.

One of the things on the list was the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.

Back in February we painted the kitchen, made small bar, and hung our barn door to create a separation. But we called it a day before finishing the saddle and frame. Mostly because we weren’t quite sure what to do.

But after 10 months of taking an awkwardly large step over this gaping hole, it was TIME.

The old beam is kinda cool, but the bulbous insulation and inevitable dust bunny collections were not. And while the stratigraphy of the frame fascinates every contractor/carpenter who comes through, we were pretty sick of looking at it.

So what to do?

The previous owners left a big stack a cedar barn siding which we’ve turned into everything from the Inn’s bar to the tables to my desk. Not to mention a TV stand, a nightstand, a day bed…. haha! So naturally, we decided that cedar would do just fine as a frame and saddle.

Steven measured, cut the pieces, and drilled some guide holes for our screws so as to not split the wood.

And no, it’s not exactly traditional to use screws for this kind of thing, but we’ve got a rustic enough look going on and down the line we might want to remove the wood and use it elsewhere when we do a deeper kitchen renovation.

We started with the top part of the frame.

Moved to the side pieces, several of which we had to notch to fit the irregular shapes going on.

And then fitted the saddle, which involved some “poor man’s planing” as Steven called it. Yes, that’s his Swiss Army knife.

He added supports since we didn’t want the saddle to bend when you stepped on it. They look like they were installed by a 3 year old with a hammer but the erratic placement is actually quite precise to fit the uneven surface.

And voila!

Steven also decided to add a small bit of trim to the part in the kitchen where the wall otherwise very unevenly meets the frame to finish it off.

Tada!

I love it, love it, love it. Though it’s really kind of bizarre how luxurious having a continuous floor feels. Naturally we keep stepping over it as if the saddle still isn’t there. I’m sure we’ll happily get used to it soon!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

I Love Lamp: Steven’s Office (Before)

As the exterior of the house is being painted (photos coming soon!), I’ve been a busy bee (between check-ins and bar tending and laundry and and and…!) brightening things up inside the house.

I started with Steven’s studio because he got jealous of mine after I’d gotten jealous of the hotel rooms. As you can see, while his room was spacious and full of windows, it was dark and often felt cluttered despite lots of tidying and reorganizing:

It certainly didn’t help that his mountain view became a dumpster view for the past three and half months. And while we never took that shot from the inside, you can see here what it looked like from the outside. His windows are the bottom four:

Not pretty.

I painted his built in shelves a blue-ish grey back in January, which helped a bit:

Oh man was THAT a labor of love. So much taping! And awkward climbing and bending! It actually made painting the rest of the room seem quite simple by comparison which for whatever insane reason I decided to undertake the Monday of Labor Day after all of our long weekend guests checked out. Because, you know, that wasn’t a busy weekend or anything like that…?!

All the while Steven made some more cedar contraptions which I’m looking forward to showing off next week in my “after” post!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)