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Startups and Serendipity (Pt. 2): Igloo Letterpress

Igloo Letterpress' special "Blogger Night" highlighted the creative
capabilities of this Worthington-based printing business to attendees.
For Part 1 of this post, please click on this link.

Part 1 of my post briefly touched on our dabblings in Columbus-area crowdfunding, and our experience with The Commissary, a food-focused incubator that we happily supported during their efforts to get off the ground.

Part 2 touches on another previously blogged-about businesss with an ongoing crowdfunding campaign to help it move to a bigger location, with just a little hint of serendipity thrown in to boot.

My previous post on Worthington's Igloo Letterpress, a true favorite of both myself and my spouse, came by happenstance on the day before their announcement that they were taking over a larger space just a half-block up from their current location. Since that day, Igloo has also decided to utilize the crowdfunding option to help fund the move, launching a Kickstarter campaign to not only assist in the actual moving process, but also to optimize their increased operating space.

My spouse and I have taken advantage of some of Igloo's open-to-the-public events in the past, so were understandably thrilled when Igloo Invited us to attend last week's Bloggers Night at their current work space on West New England Avenue to help get the word out to folks.

You don't have to be a blogger to appreciate the Igloo's tools of
its trade, nor realize how their limited work space presents
unique challenges to both employees and customers during
an evening of numerous interactive experiences.
I had written in my previous blog post that Igloo's current work space as having a "certain chaotic organization that you better appreciate as you watch the employees perform their duties." This came out in more stark relief during this night of numerous letterpress-related activities and demonstrations. Viewing the dozen-or-so invited guests and gathered staff in combination with Igloo's equipment and other tools of the trade from afar, I got a picture of the machinations that might have to take place trying to combine production work and a scheduled class at the same time.

This vision was elaborated upon in a delightful conversation I had with Igloo's Studio Director Beth Dekker. She explained that their letterpress' business, community interaction and education goals come into conflict more frequently than desired due to this lack of space. She added that that utilizing certain pieces of equipment for one purpose by default shuts down use of that machine for other uses; there had been times when Igloo's capacity is maxed out to the point where potential production jobs and/or chances for community interaction events simply have to be refused.

This event highlighted one of Igloo's most engaging aspects: giving the public an opportunity to exercise their creative side in a truly hands-on manner. For the invited this night, these activities ranged from the very simple (picking out the font type to print our note cards) to the kinesthetic (operating the actual machine to print said cards), and was not restricted to a single activity (along with the note cards, we walked away with a mini hand-bound notebook and a set of printed cardboard coasters.)

The long hand note is always preferable, especially if you're
using Igloo's whimsical printed creations.
Simply viewing Igloo's finished products allows you to appreciate the creativity and quality of work coming from this business, from the uniquely witty and whimsical designs of their greeting cards, to the unique poster-sized materials (a Worthington street map produced from a restored wood print block dating back between 1950 to 1960) and everything in-between. The Snow House, their current gift shop, is a favorite place of my spouse and I to drop by, especially when the Worthington Farmers Market is in their outdoor season.

Overall, this night was incredibly enjoyable, from all the various activities to the interactions with Igloo staff and the opportunity to meet many fellow bloggers who I have discovered during my Internet travels in person for the first time ever (I most certainly hope this is not the last time either.)

Moreover, I would like to re-emphasize the little gem that the Columbus area has in Igloo Letterpress. As you grow up, you get to learn that life isn't terribly fair at times: a combination of unfortunate circumstances and/or just sheer dumb luck has derailed numerous high-quality and truly worthy endeavors throughout the years. Often times, little can be done by the customers or beneficiaries of those endeavors when they cease their operations.

Igloo Letterpress owner Allison Chapman demonstrates the
capabilities of a Heidelberg printing press machine. Special movers
will have to be hired to transport the equipment to its new digs.
Sometimes, the opposite happens: a little serendipity allows a quality venture to grow. Dekker related to me a story that night about how Igloo Letterpress' owner Allison Chapman was struggling to balance the business and production aspects of her fledgling business. Meanwhile, Dekker's employment had just ended, and she was simply trying to land somewhere where her skills could prove useful. Despite having no real letterpress experience, Dekker sent an inquiry e-mail to Chapman touting her skills.

During a particularly rough stretch, and in realization that she truly needed help to handle the business side of her venture, Chapman decided to scope her e-mail (a task which she increasingly had less and less time for) for a possible solution.

Guess whose e-mail was listed first?

Serendipity is a good thing. In Igloo's case, it helped bring Chapman and her letterpress equipment to the Columbus area in the first place, helped in matching up Dekker and Chapman, and now has given them an opportunity to reach their optimal potential just a mere half-block away from their current location. Perhaps the serendipitous cherry on top of this fun evening was Chapman returning from a city of Worthington meeting with approval for Igloo's new storefront.

Igloo's current Kickstarter campaign not only helps out with the moving process, but would allow the addition of extra printing press and related studio that would allow Igloo to teach classes and host public projects. The space would also be available for private rental as well. This additional space would allow Igloo to host these services without adversely affecting their mainline production, as is the case currently. In addition, the gift shop would be centrally located with the business, with the current Snow House Gift Shop going back onto the residential market.

For me and my spouse, knowing that we can help out Igloo Letterpress reach their ultimate potential through their current Kickstarter campaign is a little serendipity for us in its own right.

If you would like to help out Igloo Letterpress with its move, please check out their Kickstarter Campaign page. Numerous unique rewards are available for those willing to contribute to the cause. The campaign runs until Friday, April 10, at 6 PM EDT.

Igloo Letterpress/Snow House Gift Shop
39 West New England Ave
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 787-5528
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