· By Tarleton Walmsley
In Prof. G's You Are A Message: Meditations For the Creative Entrepreneur, page 64 advises "Talk to your audience as you would talk to your best friend. Be candid, be cool, be loving." For the life of me, I have been trying without success to apply these sage words of advice in my attempt at describing what it's like moving out of your business's first home. How candid? How loving? What does it even mean to be cool? I'm not sure, but I do know that as words do not come pouring out of me, the feelings are flowing wild and free.
Feelings are so hard to contain with words, though. How do I tell you what it felt like the night we opened our doors? I was so scared no one would come and yet you showed up in droves, to the point that I still don't know who all was there. It was wild, surreal, exciting, and I was so incredibly exhausted in the best of ways knowing Seth and I had accomplished something bigger than ourselves. And you continued to show up. You still do--your support is the life raft on which we remain afloat during a global pandemic. Can you really feel it when I say that I'm incredibly grateful to every single person that walked through our door? Can you really feel it when I want to cry with joy and gratitude that you like Garden Party, you really do, and as a life-long, self-deprecating perfectionist who was at one time convinced no one liked her (middle school, hello!!), I'm still amazed you like us, you really do.
How do I candidly reveal that as beautiful and special as Garden Party is and will continue to be, it was also the thing that almost broke me? I had never up to this point experienced stress and burn out in the way I did the first year of business. As much as I was feeling love and joy at operating my own business, I also scrambled and failed so many times to find a better way to manage my mental health. I think I'm finally getting there almost two years in and learning to ask for help when you need it is the feeling of a soothing balm, the relief after a year of thinking you could do it on your own. Seth transitioning to working at Garden Party full time has been my own personal saving grace. And is it ok to tell you about how much anger I still feel that the building will be torn down one day? I'm still angry about that, and about our city's leadership in general. And can I talk about the bugs? SO. MANY. BUGS.
I suppose that what I mean to convey is how much Garden Party means to me and what it has meant to you will continue on, and that's something worth expressing. Feelings are just feelings, but I know it to be true that we provide a place to gather with friends and neighbors, a place to vibe, and a place to find resources and products that aid in navigating life. As hard as it is to part ways with our first iteration, we have an opportunity to refine our concept in a place of more permanence, dig in a little deeper, make it even better than what it has thus far been, and we're so stoked you're along for the ride.