In celebration of Small Business Week (May 5-11), Flauk is highlighting the stories of some amazing women-owned businesses. Please join us in the movement to #shoplocal and #supportwomen!
Arianna Reel, owner of Craft Sierra Madre – a modern craft supply and DIY workspace in Sierra Madre, California – is a badass babe on a mission to do scary shit and make the world a more crafty place along the way. She created Craft to foster every kind of creative art form imaginable (including workshops on vulgar embroidery – we die – and watercolor cacti painting) through hands-on experiences that cater to everyone from little kids to adults. The space is stocked with a carefully curated selection of DIY supplies for all making needs, and designed with the intention of building a space to create, be inspired, and develop community. We asked Arianna about what it’s like to run a local business, who inspires her, and the unique trials and advantages she’s experienced as a woman-owned business:
What do you love about running a business in your local community?
Sierra Madre is known as the city where the hippies go to die and it really is a great description for this town. Most people who have lived in Los Angeles don’t even know where this sleepy little town is (find the Santa Anita race track and go north to the mountain), but I went to high school here and returned back to this town when it was time for my daughter to go to high school as well. Sierra Madre loves the fact that we do not have any traffic lights and our whole downtown area is about 4 square blocks. I live a block behind my business, so after commuting to downtown Los Angeles for 7 years, this was a welcome change. When they say it takes a village to raise your children, it’s the same for a new business and Sierra Madre really makes you feel like you have so much help. I love getting to know everyone in this town on such a personal level.
Are there any unique challenges that you’ve faced as a woman in launching or running your company?
Oh man where do I begin? I was a working artist in my early teens and twenties and then got into the restaurant business for 20 years after I got pregnant at 20 years old. For my 40th birthday, I had always imagined I would be taking a trip to the Mediterranean, but at 39, in the midst of the Me Too movement, working for the most horrible example of such, in a nightclub, I decided to completely switch gears and gift myself with a whole new career and go into business for myself and open a multi-use craft store and creative workspace. The problem was coming to grips and working through 20 years of being “nothing but a bartender”. I have opened multiple bars and restaurants, but actually opening your own business where everything rests on your shoulders is a completely different ballgame. I adopted the motto “Do scary shit” and decided that no matter what happens, it would be better than crying at work every day.
The bar world was so rewarding to me and my family. It allowed me to stay at home with my kids, be a girl scout troop leader, room parent, go on fun trips, buy new things with endless amounts of cash, but it all came at the cost of never being taken seriously, even when I was promoted to a manger. Even when I was managing multiple bars at the same. Even when I opened my own consulting business. The mentality that I was nothing but a bartender was really hard to get rid of when I moved into opening my own business. Can I really do this? Am I qualified enough? What if I fail miserably? I can only say that I am so grateful for the support of my husband, who has always been my biggest cheerleader, and the inner belief that at the end of the “if this all goes to shit”, I won’t die and at least I tried.
And…I would get to spend a lot of time painting and hopefully inspire other people to find that joy again and be inspired by my story and my store.
What unique advantages or perspectives do you bring to the table as a female business owner?
On the flip side of the personal issues of the bar world, it also gave me the best tools for handling starting a new business. I was the weirdo who loved the time before we would open to prep. It’s for sure the best metaphor for a business, especially one that does so many different creative things. Just like chopping limes, and making garnish trays, the pre prep work of having a brick and mortar means everything to be successful. As far as the advantages of specifically being a female business owner, I think we just are so used to running the race a bit behind that we roll with the punches better…I mean for god’s sake I went back to waiting tables a week after I gave birth to my first kid because I needed to pay bills and women have been doing this for forever. We’re resourceful, we’re strong, and we really can do anything.
Share the love: tell us about any of your favorite companies out there run by badass women that we all should know about!
Omg I really wouldn’t have survived without the help and support of so many other business women. I totally want to shout out my former employee, Sophia, who started GAS YOUR GIRLS. Its just about women’s empowerment and I just love her message so much! @Gasyourgirls
Tricia Carr has been my secret angel for YEARS!! She was in the bar biz too but has moved into the spiritual help world and has always been there to guide me through so many things. @Triciacarrcharm