The past few months have seen some very unexpected events, and included undertakings that I would not have scheduled this way. But they happened because opportunities arose, creating a domino effect of "this must happen right now!" and new areas of business and systems that required my brain to get acclimated to these new areas rather quickly. In short, A Little Beacon Blog has been moving into a new office space in the Telephone Building at 291 Main Street.
But that's not all. It's not only a space for our meetings and whatnot, but it's also space to interact with the community, in that it is available for rent for Pop-Up Shops, Workshops, Photo Shoots, and anything else I haven't thought of yet. For example, a local shop owner suggested that she might like to host a Fashion Show in it. Yes! And, this space that we are calling The Space has already booked its first session with local photographer Jackie Foley for a full-day session of portrait photography.
Back Up - Where Did This Come From?
Right. So, as you know, I run two (well, three) businesses: A Little Beacon Blog, its media extension services business called InHouse Design Media, and Tin Shingle. In Tin Shingle Land, I had a business partner for 8 years. Together we helped small businesses all over this country go big with getting the word out about their wares and services. But I had a years-long retail itch. And my partner wanted to go all-in with her new business that she'd been developing on the side. Being that she lives in New Jersey and I live in Beacon, an office hadn't really been an option, unless I just needed to get out of the house (yes, I've mastered working from home, but needed to get out after 11 years).
We would talk about it, and ask ourselves: "Hmmm...if we're both developing things on the side, would Tin Shingle close?" Though that would make me very sad, and would remove a service that many business owners use - both as paid members and as free readers and webinar customers - I thought: "If Tin Shingle closed, I'd open an ice cream shop in Beacon. I've worked in the digital world for a loooong time, and I'm ready to work with my hands now. I'd have events, kids' ice-cream decorating parties, and I could still produce A Little Beacon Blog because of the great team that I work with (shout-out to Marilyn, Leigh and Catherine!), and new writers and advertisers coming on board to make it all possible."
When my partner decided to commit 100% to her new business and leave Tin Shingle, I decided to run Tin Shingle with the team we have in place (shout-out to Jackie, Shayne, and now Marilyn!), as well as producing A Little Beacon Blog. With this new freedom and ownership of both businesses, I can have an office that is involved with promoting ideas, business and people on both the local and national level. The new office space has two windows that overlook Main Street, and in the future, a logo for each business will be on them! Look up as you pass the building, because A Little Beacon Blog is on the shingle that hangs above the front door. Snap a picture and tag us - @alittlebeacon - on Instagram!
And now, for the fun stuff: Here are behind-the-scenes photos and videos of what it's been like putting together a physical office space...
About 291 Main Street, The Telephone Building
Beaconites know this building as The Telephone Building, which first opened to connect telephone calls in 1907. Described by current building owner and restorer of the building, Deborah Bigelow: "One autumn evening in 1907, the switchboards of the Hudson River Telephone Company lit up for the very first time. The handsome new building on Main Street employed the latest technology." Deborah recalls how the building was open to the community, to not only put through the calls of private telephone subscribers, but it also offered public telephones to those who did not have one yet.
Deborah, a fascinating and well-respected art conservator and gilder who has been described as having a "Midas touch," is behind all of the renovations you see now on the building (just look at these before and after photos) - even doing much of the work herself. You may have seen the wooden scaffolding recently erected in front of the building, and the lift on the side of it in the driveway. This is preparation for a restorative project Deborah has been planning for years: to restore the top of the building, and help The Telephone Building name shine in gold once she finishes gilding it with her own hands. Stayed tuned to A Little Beacon Blog: We're working on an article with Diane Lapis, a trustee of the Beacon Historical Society, to bring you an in-depth article about the history of the building, and projects that Deborah has completed in it.
I am honored to join the ranks of businesses who currently work in the building, including the BEAHIVE and all of their member businesses who work out of other offices in the building, as well as Mara Farrell Concepts, Gilded Twig, and other professionals who work in private offices on the third floor. Additionally exciting is being located in the middle of Main Street, which is on the cusp of defining itself anew with the recent additions of Binnacle Books, Royal Crepes, and Tree City Tattoo joining the ranks of older businesses like Cafe Amarcord, Get Frosted Cupcakery, and Key Food.
New Office Life - With Food Composting!
Working from home for 11 years got me into certain habits, like cooking my lunch every day, recycling, doing the dishes, and working alone. In these new digs, I get to make new habits, and still get to recycle - AND compost food!
The funny thing about working from home is you get used to being quiet and alone. There isn't any office chatter or water cooler gatherings. You have to go to Facebook for that. I often keep the office door locked because, well, I'm still in the habit of being totally alone and have short office hours due to my kids' schedules, so I have to jam things out.
This week, however, I experimented by keeping the door unlocked, and don't you know, passers-by from the street walked right in, ready to look around! These two gentlemen were exploring Beacon for the first time and loving it. They are business owners who make dog treats, and they're also proud papas to their two little dogs (who are models, naturally). I of course told them to watch for the Beacon Barks Parade next year, and promptly sent them down the street to Get Frosted Cupcakery when I learned of their love for cupcakes. Their business card is on my desk in the office, and I'll return to this article to edit and link to them.
Office Space Inspires Impromptu Yoga, and Other Things
Ok, so here is a really fun and unexpected use of this office space. Because it is available for others to come into, I wanted it to be in tip-top shape. Plus, it was filling mighty big shoes of the designers Nixie Sparrow, who occupied it before me (and at whose going-away party the idea struck me to maybe move in). This inspired an unleashing of all of my design ideas that I don't do in my own home, since 80% of my house is fair-game for kids to spill yogurt on, marker up, or have cats mark with unseemly scents. I purchased my first artwork from Ryan @_rstudio_ at ReMADE, pulled together my best trash picks and inherited furniture from my attic, as well as sending in my wedding china and fancy hanging lights that we just don't use at home.
Of course, several trips to the Beacon Flea were made (see that mirror in the video below?), augmented by two new treats from Pier 1 in the form of dining room chairs that would also never survive in my home. So, it's an oasis. And inspires impromptu yoga! There may be Saturday morning yoga sessions here. If you are a yoga teacher interested in leading a small class, please email me.
The Space is almost open. I still have a few more things to finish, like:
- Painting the chalkboard wall for massively big and visual editorial calendars.
- Putting logo decals on the windows and a shingle on the inside door from Fabhaus (those will happen in a few months... Expenses have priorities!).
- Finishing swooping flag banners to hang in the windows.
- But at least the blue chairs are spray-painted and in The Space.
Then, there are a few more purchases to make:
- French presses (if Utensil has the Bodum brand with plastic handle, that's what we'll get)
- Electric water kettle for easy coffee/tea making for guests
- Simple Human trash can with two baskets for trash and recycling
And then we are officially open for business on Main Street! Be sure to sign up for A Little Beacon Blog's email to receive event notices and feature stories like usual, and check out our Facebook Page Event tab because we can post some gatherings there. We will have a party and would love to meet you (you too, Quick Topic Gal), so keep an eye out!
If the Website Looks Different, That's Because It is!
So - phew! As if one more thing could fit in here... Yes, this website has moved from Blogger to Squarespace, as Marilyn indicated on Sunday in her weekly Guide roundup. We wanted better ways to show photos, and the code at Blogger was bogging all of us down. I stretched and pulled a template at Squarespace to mimic the original template from Blogger so that there wasn't too much of a visual change in the experience, but now readers can access articles and offerings easier.
Thank you, Marilyn, for hammering together the home page and for starting Operation Redirect on manually redirecting all links to articles for the past two years. Thank you, Catherine, for diving into Squarespace for the first time to produce July's Second Saturday Guide! This has been a project under my services business, InHouse Design Media, to give you an idea of what we do over there.
And Now, Back to the Articles!
We have a lineup of new articles and even new columns coming for you! Announcing:
- "Postcards from Beacon" A monthly column (to start ... readers may not be able to wait that long for new ones) from the Beacon Historical Society, authored by Diane Lapis. Diane dives into the organization's collection of old postcards and tells a story from each one.
- City Council Meetings - Typed! Contributor Dylan Price is transcribing the City Council Meetings and most likely the Planning Board Meetings and some Workshops. The videos are amazing and are where we are transcribing from, to the best of our hearing ability as we decipher words from the sometimes-scratchy microphone. Three have been transcribed already, so look for those.
- "Cha-Cha-Cha Changes!" A new column focusing on which businesses are changing things up. There are three articles already in the works, and thanks to the pause we put on them due to our own changes, one of those businesses is already changing - again! And it's a biggie.
Thank you for being with us on this journey! Looking forward to bringing you more.