In 2006 I was approached by a few acquaintances to help assemble and operate a screen printing press. I was 20 years old and had zero experience printing but a childhood spent growing up around a commercial art studio. I had no money to invest into the operation and for over two years, we didn't pay ourselves. I dropped out of college and realized that being a full time artist and printer was a lot that I would happily accept.
Tree & Leaf has given me an avenue to pour my art into and it has become a springboard for building and cultivating community. Creating a place where people could hang out and be inspired to express themselves became as much of a mission as printing t-shirts. The shop gave me an opportunity to surround myself with some of the most wonderful people I've ever and will ever meet. I can even go as far as attributing my marriage to the shop; I started dating Kristen after doing design and print work for her as Plaza Director.
Its hard to believe that I've been doing this for 11 years - over a third of my life. I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do this work for this long. It is with great sincerity that I humbly thank every employee, customer, co-owner, and patron of our store.
I am very proud of the quality products, shows, and events we have had in our store. We worked very hard to earn every dollar that made its way to our register. We did our best to use our assets in ways that built up those around us. My employees make a very honest wage and I have given my spaces, tools, and equipment to artists, musicians, and neighbors to utilize as they needed. I am very proud of how we have conducted business over the last 11 years.
Proceeds from every art project and mural job I did have gone to pay the overhead costs of the store. My personal financial profits from the store are low, however, my love for the community that surrounded the store made that reality justifiable over the years. Unavoidable are the overhead expenses that continue to increase. As unfair as it seems, that's the way it goes.
With a heavy heart, I am announcing that the brick and mortar retail location of Tree & Leaf in the Plaza will be closing its doors in February of 2018.
Over the last few years, retail business has become much more of a struggle. There are numerous reasons for the store closure, however, going down that rabbit hole distracts us from the potential opportunities that await. This closure has occupied my thoughts for a long time and I have lost a lot of sleep over many months. The tides of retail sales are shifting and so is our business model. As I navigate these waters, I've begun looking forward to the potential art projects, events, and products I'll have more time and resources to invest in!
Tree & Leaf has always had the mission of cultivating community, encouraging creativity, and being active outdoors. Our closure is bittersweet, but it will not be an end to our line of unique t-shirts, our events, and our community activism. I will still have my other studio space in the Plaza Alley for a while. I will continue to print, design, and paint. If you want to come visit, just ring the doorbell! I'll continue to use the same social media accounts, and you can follow along there.
In the meantime, I'm going to be joyful for the wonderful opportunity I've been given to serve the Plaza District over the last 5 years. As we close the store, we're going to have some fun with it. We're going to celebrate what we've accomplished and make fun of ourselves at the same time. We're also going to have some fantastic sales!
Side note: I cannot express how grateful I am to have a wife that builds, encourages, and corrects me. Kristen has walked alongside me through the difficulties of this last year and I couldn't be more thankful for the guidance and love she offers.
With honest sincerity, thank you for being our customer and friend. Remember: Be honest in word, work, and deed!