sota clothing has always been more than a place for business. Since its inception in 2011, sota has been a source for new beginnings, learning new skills, and deepening connections. These things, which make work more than a job, are found behind the scenes of the daily, sometime mundane, operations of counting inventory or running the warehouse.
First and foremost, sota clothing has been a place for a whole lot of learning. Learning how to blend a staff with varying degrees of experience, everything from "over-qualified" to "I've never done this before." The former group learning how to operate on a small-scale dynamic, and the latter getting oriented to a new role for the first time.
We've had to learn what it really takes to tend to the different stages of a brand and a business. Discerning when it's time to grow the team or cut back, when to thin out inventory or look for a new space that will accommodate the demand.
We tested and stretched our limits when we bought a building to renovate while prepping for the State Fair, turning out new product, functioning as landlords, and launching our first retail store at the same time.
sota became a place for social gatherings of so many kinds: happy hours, birthday parties, holiday dinners, and even a wedding. Providing a spot big enough to host both ping-pong tournaments and dance parties simultaneously after Christmas dinner. It's also common for out-of-town family to stop in as they come or go, and rare is the occasion they don't get assigned a task while they're in.
Johnson family Christmas dinner at Sota Clothing's Doc's Hall | December 2018
sota clothing has also been a "post-retirement hangout" of sorts. Gathering ladies from the neighborhood for "coffee and tagging" parties as they help us tag bulk inventory shipments while talking about the latest neighborhood gossip.
It’s a place for our mom and dad to connect with each other and their adult kids, often making daily stops to check-in and offer a hand where needed. Our Uncle Joe, living just shy of a mile from the office, has also found his "retirement job" in sota. He has become our go-to-guy for help wherever its needed, whether it be painting the warehouse, setting up pop-up shops, or modeling at the State Fair.
It's even been a place for match-making. The first "non-Johnson" we hired, our event coordinator Melissa, ended up working a "not-so-accidental" shift at the State Fair with our brother Nick (who was working to pay off his cell phone bill). Three years later we no longer have an event coordinator, and she and Nick moved out to New York while he pursues PA school.
Lastly, we've found sota clothing to be a place for transitions. Amongst our team, we've had employees coming from corporate, education, home-life, finance, and music. Some employees jumped into roles they may have been over-qualified for, and other's navigated their new role for the first time. Either way, sota has been an experiment for some in seeing if small-family-business life works for them, or if it's just a pit-stop along the way as they pursue their next endeavor.
Amidst the span of sota clothing's still young life, we know we've come up short of perfect more often than we'd prefer. But we are committed to keep trying, providing a place that's ripe for turning co-workers into friends, mistakes into lessons, and dead-ends into new beginnings.