Hey y’all! Kasey here. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this past year and to tell you how insanely appreciative I am to all of the folks that hustled and helped out in order to bring this dream to fruition.
I feel like there’s a new theme going around where everyone is anti-goals, anti-new year/new you, and anti-reflection because it’s “over done” or something. Not me! Seriously though, I’m the sentimental type and find that reflection helps me grow personally and professionally while goal setting keeps my daily life aligned with my long term intentions. I won’t go into detail about all that, but I do want to take a walk through the wild ride that was 2020.
We went into the year with so many bold ideas. I hired several new faces at my other retail gig, The NAT, and started implementing plans that would allow it to thrive while I turned my attention to The Collective, which was well into phase I of construction at this point. When March arrived, I started to panic early on. The NAT sits on Amarillo’s most populated strip of Historic Route 66. We were still greeting tourists from all over the world on a daily basis. As reports about how covid was raging through Europe started making headlines, my staff began to panic as well. We shut our doors to the public the week before spring break. While it was a move that hurt us hard financially, I knew that keeping those that I employ safe was more important. Positive cases started to surge here in the panhandle and with no financial aid in site, I became the ONLY team member at The Nat. My husband and I decided to halt all construction on The Collective so that he could stay at home with our two toddlers while I met with customers for curbside shopping. There are over 100 antique dealers and makers that depend on me there and I couldn’t let them down.
Week after week I’d think things were starting to look up. Sadly, the numbers kept climbing and the closures got more serious. We were originally scheduled to begin leasing to retailers at From 6th Collective in April, but here I was in May wondering if I should just take a loss and sell the big barn before we dumped anymore money into it. I was cutting expenses left & right. While doing so, I began to notice how insane our overhead was as a brick + mortar retail store. It quickly dawned on me just how beneficial the collective concept was…especially when things get tough financially. Luckily, having nothing but time on my hands, I took a harder look at what the pandemic was doing to/for small businesses as a whole. To my surprise, the vast majority of Americans were also paying attention. Sure, Amazon profits were skyrocketing, yet never before had I witnessed such an outpouring of love and support as a small business owner. People from all over were placing orders on The NAT’s newly created, somewhat haphazard, e-commerce site. Each purchase showed me how much they cared about our survival. It was in that moment that I realized how significantly relevant covid had made what we were in the process of building. When businesses began to open back up, my husband and I decided we had to get the new shop completed, and that there was no time to waste if we wanted to be fully operational by the holidays.
I finally started meeting with potential retailers for From 6th Collective in September. I was overjoyed by how many of them had the same realizations as me and that they were happy to hop on board. We were about to embark on something we had never seen before. A retail facility that showcases and sells products from a wide variety of small businesses all under one creative director and management. We began putting in a crazy amount of hours and moved into the final phase of our construction. It felt so good to have The NAT back on track and to be back working on the project I had spent the past 4 years dreaming about.
We all settled on an early November opening date and I hired my first Collective employee! Our star color, selected a couple years ago when we launched the From 6th Collective brand, millennial pink would tie the entire place together, but what excited me most was getting back to my visual display roots. It was important to me that one feel a complete departure from the landscape upon entering The Collective. An interior that provided a reprieve from all the negativity going on in world around us, but also one highlighted what makes West Texas culture unlike any other. A dream world of sorts. I collaborated with several local creatives to bring that vision to life. Blank Spaces Mural group and Avant Garden are two that have had the most impact so far.
As the buzz about our new biz began to circulate, Amarillo Magazine reached out and asked if they could do a write up in their November issue, it’s main focus was about shopping local + supporting small so we were the perfect fit. I was over the moon when it came out! Not only did we make it on the cover, but it went to print the week prior to our opening.
I had no idea what to expect on that opening day. As I look back on it, I get pretty emotional. You Guys Showed Up! The support hasn’t slowed yet and I hope it never does. Thanks to your outpouring of kind words, your respect for our mandatory mask policy, and the hundreds of images shared + tagged within these walls, I’m inspired now more than ever before. I’ll continue cultivating this incredible community we’re building because this region has obviously longed for a place like this for far too long. I cannot wait to finish out our final wing with an additional 9 regional retailers!
In closing, I hope you know just how much I value you. Some of you have been loyal since my NEST days, while many of you I’ve just met. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now get out of here 2020 and let us do our thing!!!