The Black Squirrel
Hi! I’m Chase Clark, and that’s me up there, in front of my soon-to-be new retail shop, holding a ton of the beautiful indie-dyed yarns I already carry in my online shop! Here’s a little about me: I grew up on the central coast of California, in a little town called Paso Robles. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college and instantly knew that I would never leave. I did a double major in Business and Art, hoping to put both to good use someday when I opened my own art-oriented small business. Making art and doing things by hand has always been a huge part of my life, and it’s brought me so much joy that I want to share it with as many other people as I possibly can. I’ve been producing and selling handmade goods of my own design for over a decade, and I’ve been contracted by tons of amazing artists in the area to help produce their designs as well. And over that decade I’ve met so many people at craft fairs and online who marvel at what I can make, lamenting that they could never do that kind of work, and I want to help them learn that they too can be creative and make beautiful things by hand. I am surrounded by an amazing community, and I know that the shop will become a fixture for crafters and artists of all kinds where they can find inspiration, encouragement, and even support for their own small businesses.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
The Black Squirrel is a specialty retail shop which curates quality craft supplies from small, independent producers. Stocking items for knitters, crocheters, sewists, and other crafters, our flagship brick and mortar will carry a fun, modern collection of fabrics and yarns, as well as handmade gifts from local craftspeople, and an expanded inventory to cover additional specialty supplies to support our workshops. The space will be light, bright, and airy, with a welcoming feel that encourages people to join in the DIY revolution and focuses on a younger demographic. It will have a workshop space with several sewing machine stations as well as a space to host knitting, crochet, and specialty classes.
Chase Clark, the founder of The Black Squirrel, has been working as a maker and purveyor of handmade goods, as well as an assistant helping other artisans produce their goods, for over a decade. She is also the founder of the Oakland Stitch & Bitch Group, which is the largest, longest-running, and most popular fiber-arts-related Meetup group in the Bay Area. It has been a lifelong dream of hers to open a small craft supply shop to encourage creativity in her community, and it’s time to make that dream a reality.
Not only will the retail space enliven the neighborhood in which it is located and make many local hobbyists very happy, but it will also create jobs, give local designers and artisans a venue in which to sell their goods, and serve as a social collective to help crafters get what they need to run their own small businesses more easily. The shop will become a hub for the creative community in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the goal of fostering everyday creativity and reinforcing the importance of making things by hand in these modern times. We love supporting local artists and sustainable practices, and will do our best to source only outstanding products for our customers.
What is the purpose of this loan?
This loan will help cover the cost of all of the shop fixtures for the currently blank-slate space, including shelving, displays, tables, chairs, tools for the workshop and classroom space, a fabric cutting table, a front counter and shipping station, and even our point of sale system. The POS system alone will cost about $1200, and all of the shop fixtures combined will take up the rest of the funds. Should we have anything left over it will be put towards marketing to help more crafters find our awesome shop!
Thanks to the wonderful organization PopupHood, we were able to find a space that is beautifully built out with bright white walls, great lighting, ADA compliant restrooms, tons of windows, and polished concrete floors, which means that our initial budget is much smaller than would need to be if we had to fix up an older building. Even so, this loan is incredibly important for my business, especially at zero percent interest, because it will allow us to get a smaller traditional loan and save us thousands of dollars over time! I’ve been planning this shop since I was in high school, so I’ve had a long time to think about every little detail, and I want to make sure I have all the funding needed to make it the best shop possible for my customers!
Years in operation: 6 months – 1 year