Welcome to The Collective
Photo by Erin Tetterton
Well, isn’t this exciting. The very first post! I’m Meaghan Foran, founder of The Seedling Collective- and the person behind this blog. In addition to running Seedling Collective, I own and operate a fine jewelry atelier here in Old Town (located just above The Collective) and I live here with my husband and business partner, Tim Shaheen. You can learn more about our fine jewelry business Alexandria & Company (which was recently voted the Best of Northern Virginia), here.
Seedling Collective is a concept that I have been daydreaming about for years and I am super excited to finally see it come to fruition. It’s a bit of an experiment, to be honest. I’ll be the first to state that I have never run a space like this before. I toyed with fulfilling this idea last year when my jeweler atelier moved to the second floor of our building, but I ended up finding a wonderful independent start-up boutique to take the retail space for a year while I finished renovating the rest of our building. This boutique - which has since moved up the street to a larger, more permanent space - needed a small spot where she could set up, start her business, grow her customer base, and decide what would work in Old Town’s somewhat tricky market. I had heard from similar independent owners that finding space is an ever-persistent challenge to a new concept. The idea of signing onto a five or ten year lease - standard in Old Town - just feels so out of reach for a start-up retailer still finding footing in the market. Plus, rates are high and the spaces available are way too large, run down, or located too far out of King Street’s bustling pull. It also feels a bit old-fashioned to try to secure a long-term retail tenant anymore. The market shifts so quickly, trends are so fickle: wouldn’t it be better to allow for some flexibility in order to bring interesting talent to the neighborhood? As someone invested in our city’s definition, I felt strongly that I would rather have a space active and rented, even if it’s in a non-traditional format, than sitting empty and waiting for a chain to move in.
Additionally, I have always admired the idea of having a space dedicated to the creative arts. Whether it’s writing, photography, crafting, or painting, I want to see more of it happening here in Old Town. To me, this is what actually set this neighborhood apart from comparable NoVa zip codes: our Torpedo Factory artists, the Art League, the numerous galleries we have, and the amazingly talented pool of photographers and artists I have come to know through my day job. While retailers make the neighborhood more fun (and economically viable), artists make the area more interesting. And, the two should not be mutually exclusive: I want to create a forum where independent creatives can not just show their work, but actively sell it to an interested and engaged market.
So, The Seedling Collective. We are not venture capitalists and we don’t give advice on how to run your business. We simply provide the space for you to do your thing and flexible rental rates so you can afford to take some risks. Knowing our space is small (about 500 square feet), I decided to outfit it with fully adjustable wall shelving and collapsible tables that can be folded up and placed out of the way when not in use. It makes an ideal place for small workshops, pop-up galleries, photography shoots, and even as a home base for you to work out of a few days a month.
My hope is that The Seedling Collective will be so much more than just a space, though. That’s why I decided to run a blog in conjunction with The Collective in order to expand the forum into a true community. This is where I’ll run features about creatives using the space, talk about events and collaborations we have in store, and provide another platform for the independents who are part of The Collective to share their stories and products.
I’m excited to share all of this with you: the space, the blog, all of it. We have some great events already in the works so make sure you follow our Instagram @theseedlingcollective for updates and bookmark this blog for future good reads. Hopefully we’ll be seeing you at one of our events soon!