Earlier this month, the PROVIDE shop turned one year old. I was planning to write a blog post on the 3rd, which would have been exactly a year to the day after we opened, but as has so often been the case over the last year, things kept coming up, and sitting down in front of a computer didn't seem like number one priority. Whether there's an invoice that needs paying, new products that need logging, photographing and promoting, a meeting about an exciting upcoming project, or a friend dropping in for lunch, there is rarely a quiet moment around here (we sometimes manage to serve customers in the middle of all this too).
With no back office support staff, it feels like a constant game of catch up, and sometimes things can run behind schedule (Issue 2 of the Paper is coming, I promise!), but it's a fun challenge to wake up to every day. It's amazing to think that we started off like this, with a relatively anonymous pop up shop last summer:
After a month of the Here Today, Gone Tomorrow pop up, we set about transforming the space, and it's continued to evolve with the additions of new artwork, furniture modifications and changing product lines. Here's George building our seat-crates last August - how many of you have chilled on one of these over the last year?!
Zoot was one of the first people to lend a hand to the interior make over, and his feature wall which you can see in the background above continues to start conversations today. By this point several hours of hard labour had been put in by Max, Ed, Chris, Alex and Michael stripping back the layers of white paint to expose the fantastic brickwork of our Grade II listed building. Every time somebody compliments it now, I'm reminded how great my friends are, risking permanent health damage from all the fumes inhaled over those few days.
Another friend who has contributed greatly to our first year is Craig, who has been a regular visitor since day one. Here's a film he made showing how the shop initially came together:
Since then we've really grown into the space, and it continues to change as we do. We try to keep it flexible, and treat it as more of a project space than a shop. It's been amazing to meet so many of you over the last year, and anyone who knows anything about PROVIDE will know that you are all valued as much more than just customers. There are so many people who have helped get this project off the ground, you know who you are, and hopefully you realise how much of an impact you've had. You're a talented, good looking, funny, inspiring and generous bunch, and you make all the hard work worthwhile. Here's to many more years of friendship!