(I still get this question daily since I am still working at 1404 Tower Ave.)
Besides the business not being able to support the two of us anymore (hence, each of us working on other jobs for our families). Well, we needed to walk away.
We hoped to hire a manager (& show them all the tools we had) to GIVE the business along to them before 2024 (when our lease ended). We still believed that blue arrow was an important part of the community. But, after our manager decided to leave, we did too. It was too much energy to figure out who to pass it along to (& start over passing along our knowledge).
I am currently still working at 1404 Tower Ave., but in a new role. I’m trying to turn my “side gig” into my full-time gig. I will for sure be in the space until the end of May. To be transparent, I am working towards a new space to continue my business.
A lot of life can happen in 9 years.
1404 holds a lot of great memories of business success. It also holds a lot of not so great things.
Aimee & I became close friends AND business partners
I learned a lot from owning & operating a business
I piloted a new way to use social media for convenience for the working women in our community
I moved to Superior & met my husband
I was able to buy my first home
I was able to support my family and help my husband finish his degrees
I met so many cool people & made some great connections
I was able to donate money back into the community professionally & personally
I met so many cool people I probably would not have otherwise
Managing a large social media took more time than the hours physically at 1404
I felt personally responsible for the success of us & our employees based on if others liked what clothes I ordered-this led to a lot of anxiety.
An employee quit on THE DAY that was supposed to be my last day before maternity leave. This led to a lot of guilt for needing to leave to have a baby, River.
My son, River, died during childbirth. Even though I was grieving, I felt so bad for Aimee having to work 7 days a week alone. She didn't sign up to do this alone.
I returned to work one month after giving birth. I was not fully present, but I also couldn’t be home alone. I stayed in the back room to avoid people.
I also couldn’t be at 1404 alone anymore. 1. I had to pump my unused breast milk every few hours & didn’t feel I could close the shop to do that. 2. I would cry daily at work usually from something someone said or didn’t say to me about my son dying. (p.s. telling someone “everything happens for a reason” really doesn’t feel that great when you just held your dead child a few weeks ago.)
5 months after River dying…
The government shut our business down since we weren’t “essential”. We lost control of our income! We still had a lease to pay. Everything we worked to build, we were selling at cost to just pay the bills! ALL of the blue. line stuff I worked so hard on---all those custom Duluth Pack bags…All of those sterling silver custom Lake Superior bracelets… Those were things that we would never ever be able to buy again-even at wholesale costs. It was heartbreaking to see all of our work go away. Aimee & I showed up every day to post what we could and figure out how to sell what we could online just to pay the bills.
This way of work became exhausting. We started to re-evaluate. We also started to work on other ways to make an income.
(Remind you-right now in time my son just died. The world is weird. People are scared. My job & income is gone. I wasn’t able to have the funeral we planned for April (6 months after his death), I hate being home because it holds trauma. My husband is home now with his job & also hates being home.)
I think I better stop with all of the negative. Wait-one more…
SPACES, the new business we tried to build since clothes weren’t as important anymore, failed miserably. But, we also still had the lease for that too. That is a whole other story for another day.
A resident upstairs in our building flooded the back of SPACES multiple times ruining new inventory & back stock inventory (basically money gone again without our control). This same resident also killed himself outside of blue arrow’s back door shortly after. I was distracted walking into work & walked through blood & blood chunks NOT cleaned by first responders. I thought I had raspberries stuck on my shoes from my son, Gus. It wasn’t until I walked back outside to retrace my steps after cleaning up the “raspberries” I drug through the back room to see blood spattered all over our back door.
More trauma. More trying to fight for someone not alive. (I was also seeking help & justice for River at this time.) I was so upset that this human & his remains were not cleaned up in a respectful way. I was told that it was my responsibility to clean the back door. (I already had blood unknowingly on my hands from cleaning the floor, BUT now knowing it was blood on the door—I couldn’t do it.)
My grief therapist decided to quit her job. I needed to find a new therapist asap. (If you’ve ever tried to find a therapist, you know how hard of a task this is! But, I did find a great one in Superior with help from a friend.)
Every time I walk into work I see the marks from cleaning the blood off the back door. I am reminded of my blood on my son, River. I am reminded of the guilt I had after his death about not being at work. And, the guilt of me being worried about work compared to what I feel is important now. It sure isn’t work anymore. It sure isn’t worrying about keeping blue arrow open.
So, on my 42 birthday this year, I met Aimee for our weekly meeting and said I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. And, she agreed. We announced that we would be closing 2 days later with a projected quick end date. We just couldn’t do another holiday season. We needed to close before 2024.
We were very (VERY) supported on the first day of our sale. So much, that we didn’t make it to our projected end date. Aimee & I are still responsible for the lease of 1404 until the end of May.
So, I am trying my best to work my side gig to pay half of the lease and my own bills. I am trying to provide something that focuses and helps us on the INSIDE. IN OUR SOUL vs. the external (clothes). Something that has helped me come out of the deepest darkest depths to being able to function again in society.
I will continue to do this work. It fills my cup. It is true to who I am.
I am strong because I have to be strong. I will walk into 1404 now because I have to AND because I want to. One day I will be able to walk out and into a new space that hopefully holds more good memories than bad ones.
For all of the blue arrow customers that have followed my journey, thank you. Thank you for the support in the beginning and your continued support.
This blog was written in a very quick & therapeutic way to get it out of my brain (on this Scorpio new moon) so I don’t have to hold onto it anymore.