A Virtual Tour of Our Denver Workshop

Posted by Taylor Barkin on

Welcome to our home away from home! 
We spend day in and day out in our shop but have never given the grand tour, until now!
We moved into our Steele St. shop two years ago. It has changed a lot since we moved in and have now gotten it to a place that is set up to maximize our efficiency and creativity. Welcome.
For you, our guests:
First, we start with the shopping area. The front area is set up for you, our guests. We built out the first 800 square feet for retail, which has also doubled as a great space for events as we host them. When we were looking for spaces, we always envisioned having a retail section with an open concept for our customers to come in and see how our products are being made in the back. So that's what we did!
When we were searching for spaces, we knew traditional retail would be too expensive to accomplish the goal of having manufacturing and shopping in the same place. So we looked a bit outside of the main city center areas and landed on a place in the Clayton neighborhood that just felt perfect. The space was ideal for manufacturing/creative space and had enough affordable place to build out a retail section. We're a bit off the beaten path and are definitely a destination type place, but it works for us and we love welcoming anyone that ventures out to come see us!
Beyond our retail shop sits Creative City and Office Island: 
We originally set up this space so I had one side to myself, Tanner had another side to himself that he created and then a middle common area with a huge table configuration for meetings, lunches, sprawling out or for interns as they come in. When we made our first hire, he gravitated towards loving my desk and since I realistically have trouble being grounded to one space I was more than happy to hand it over. Everything I have on my wall is what I've collected over the years, and everything Tanner has on his side is what he's collected. 
The idea for this section was to be able to sit down and draw inspiration from all of the well designed things we've collected over the years. A space where we can sit down and focus or come together as a team to brainstorm epic things for the business or simply enjoy lunch together like a family!
Then we head on into the area that doesn't have much of a purpose, but comes in handy, so it doesn't have a cool name:
We have collected so many objects over the years and put up a shelf full of them. This is also a place where we draw inspiration from all the time. We are so in love with old product packaging design and love continuously going back to our shelves when we are at the product drawing board. Then we have 2 couches and a TV in this space. We use the TV for presentations (we've hosted meetings and school field trips) or bad Christmas movies. When the entire rest of the team is gone I throw on bad TV and find myself to be wildly productive. I honestly don't work well from a desk so these couches are my space of choice to work on my computer. There's something about being comfy while working that gets me motivated. We originally set this space up as a community workshop space but found ourselves way too busy to be able to manage this so we turned it into a personal comfy palace complete with our $80 couches!
Then we head to the left for our candle production area. We kept our hot wax melter off to the side a bit so that people don't easily get close to it. This is where we make all of our candles, proudly in house!
Then you turn to the right and find my personal favorite spot in the shop, Shipville:
This is where we process all orders. When we started our business, I was shipping orders from our home desk so all I wanted was a dream shipping station and enough orders to actually have a designated area for shipping products. I made this area practical, but tasteful at the same time. Shipping stations can be ugly so I wanted to bring my own style and put my own personal spin on it. In fact, I even gravitate towards using it as my desk instead of my real desk more often than not.
Then we head on back to everything production and inventory related, or Production Town as we like to call it: 
This is the busiest part of the shop as it's where all of our products are made. I take pride in my perfectly placed inventory shelves that have kept expanding over the years and love the high table surfaces to spread out on when doing production. I find myself at home in this section. 
Then, meet our equipment:
Here we have our first press that we still use but isn't the most practical and our Mac daddy press that we print everything on. In the middle sits our t-shirt dryer. It's probably about time to upgrade but it continues to do a great job for us. And when it crapped out, we were able to fix it really fast. This is the area that I spend most of my time nowadays. Working on your feet can take a toll and be exhausting, but it's actually my happy place. I love printing all day and looking at the end result of our hard work at the end of the day. We're a moderately sized print shop. Everything we have does the job well enough but in the grand scheme, we're still quite small and all still manual. 
Then we get into Tanner's woodshed for any wild projects he dreams up and our (not so glamorous) storage area.
Lastly, meet Mr. Dark Room:
This is the first construction project we ever managed. From the outside it just looks like a basic shell but on the inside we had to get plumbing, electrical and install the water resistant wall material for ease of cleanliness. This is where we hide all of our inks and where we wash and develop our screens. We have a normal light for maximum visibility and a safelight switch for when we have screens in the process of developing.
Lastly, we have our screen storage. 
These are all in labeled in alphabetical order (thank you Alfredo) so that we can easily find what we are going to print.
So where do we go potty, you ask? We have a really nice communal area that included bathrooms and a common break room as well.
Oh hi neighbors at REALM/Amethyst (right) and A Small Print Shop (left)!

What do we love about our shop:
  1. We are still very much in Denver but offset enough to where parking isn't an issue and it's not too far of a haul to get to.
  2. We live 3 blocks away. We love our little bubble that we call home
  3. We have amazing neighbors doing cool things. Neighbors include A Small Print Shop, Realm/Amethyst Coffee, Winter Session, Yellow Dog and many others as the buildings get filled.
  4. The complex used to be used for Army supply manufacturing. Our unit housed the kitchen which we are pretty sure was used to make food and canned it for the war. The entire complex was built for this reason but was only used for a few years until it turned into storage, then a squatters heaven and now it's transforming in a positive way to include really cool tenants. Before any of this, it was used as a circus training ground. What a history!
  5. We can throw big events that people love. We have thrown many events like warehouse sales, BBQ's, talks and field trips in our unit and have taken over a 50,000 square foot warehouse in the complex to throw a MASSIVE makers market two years in a row that brought in thousands of people. The beauty? There is so much parking that everyone that attends these events can park and enjoy themselves. 
  6. We have so much space. I mean so much space. We're able to run and scale our business right now without worrying about outgrowing. 

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