Electric Blanket

Fine Art * Vintage Living * Special Projects

Living the Dream: Destination Unknown

 

  • Cecile, 6, who loved my brownies I put out in the first few weeks, asked me if I’d bake her a cake, and then visited every Wednesday to hug me, draw me on notecards, and ask many questions.

 

  • Alexa, Alexandra, and Miranda, all who walked in the door as customers and left with a job at the store, who will be friends forever. Mara, Katie and Ava who stepped in to shopkeep and save the days.

 

  • Morgan, Chrissy Lynn, Jonathan, and Cesar, Jenny and all of the other friends from the neighborhood who checked in on me throughout their workdays every week and became the lunch club, who created at the table and helped me with projects.

 

  • Ginger, Christina and Anya, Megan and Emily, Kristen and Kristen, Peter from Denmark and the countless friends who came to make things at the table and leave their loveliness behind.

 

  • Every writer and photographer who opened their eyes and saw every little detail and then took the time to write about it. Every smartphone holder who instagrammed the store with the sweetest comments…

 

When I think of the greatest part of the last eleven months, it’s the moments I’ve had with amazing people who are rich with creativity and who will be a part of that story forever. When long ago the psychic said that I would make something crazy one day to bring together a group of like minded people who shared a common creative experience, the ‘merry band of pranksters’, I had no idea what that meant. I get it now.  

 

The other great parts: curating, flea market shopping with friends at stupid hours in the morning and the breakfasts that followed, the hundreds of Coffee Stories left for coffee and the scores of stories submitted for the blanket installation; the answers to questions on the board; painting the windows, hanging art shows, filling the ceiling with space blankets with my brother just because; family dinners, beers, putting skeletons together, carving pumpkins, being surrounded by everyone I love at the soft opening party, watching people discover something they loved and couldn't live without, listening to those who stopped to tell me how the space affected them...


 

Eleven months ago I set out on a mission to have a creative life as an artist and a curator. I gave notice to my amazing job, signed paperwork for a personal loan, and signed a 12 month lease on a huge, light filled space five blocks from home. My goal was to give it a year and see what happened. Maybe I’d love it, maybe I’d hate it, but I’d do it. And with bulletproof determination, I completed each step to the fullest, each detail with my heart.

 

I learned quickly that giving your entire heart to a space, with an open door to the public, had consequences I hadn’t expected and didn’t love. Doing it all alone was exhausting and I found I had no time or energy for my own art. I became a full time business person, and I became a facilities manager constantly having to worry about toilet paper and paper towels and coffee filters and milk. I became a data entry slave who was always behind with inventory logs and spending spreadsheets. My time in the shop was spent talking all day, sometimes to people who just wanted someone to talk to and brought heaviness to the space. There were a million things to do and they weren’t the fun things.  

 

As I learned more, I talked to other shopkeepers. I learned what being in a different neighborhood might be like, both for foot traffic and for safety. I added more security but felt increasingly unsafe for a variety of reasons. I stressed about each of us being in the space on a quiet street alone, and I had anxiety about the coming darkness of the winter months. I looked at the list of art pieces I’ve been meaning to make for a year but haven’t touched. I thought of the next zine I’ve been meaning to work on with my brother but haven’t had five minutes for. I thought of why I wanted this space in the first place and the choices I had ahead. I realized that I’m in control of these things, and that no, it’s not burning out — it’s deciding that while I can keep proving I can do it, I don’t have to. I get to make decisions and then new decisions. I get to learn. I get to iterate.


 

It’s month eleven of the lease and I have the chance to pause and think, and to use what I’ve learned to make what I create even better. I decided this weekend that I won’t renew the lease which expires at the end of this month, that the space I want lives somewhere else. I started to rush to find its new home, and then I realized it doesn’t have to be rushed. It can live online with Electric Bridal until I figure out how it’s meant to exist next. And in the meantime I will work with all of the creative friends and artists I’ve envied in these last eleven months. I’ll get to collaborate.

 

In the next few weeks we’ll be lightening our load in effort to reduce the need for storage and ensure that V2 is filled with fresh things. We hope to see you for sales in our final few weeks of hoorah’s at 3075.  You’ll see more and more online, as well as changes to our website so that shopping EB is still easy and beautiful. And then we’ll keep you posted along the way about what the future holds. It’s going to be amazing.

 

Opening Electric Blanket was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I will always be grateful for everyone who has made it what it is, which is an oasis in a desert, the 'creative clubhouse' I dreamed of.

With love to everyone who has helped be a part of the incredible and irreplaceable highlights,

Jillian for Electric Blanket.





All content © Jillian West/ Electric Blanket LLC, 2016.    Please don't steal.