Spencer’s initial intention was to have a space he would work from, a place a bit more permanent than his pop-up offices at local coffee shops. He had recently left his job at Spacecrafting to give his full attention to freelance photography and graphic design work. Above the room he was renting was an empty attic, rectangular and narrow in shape. Spencer was making plans for it to be his first office.
He already had most of the equipment a young twenty-something needs to furnish an office: a computer and a printer. What he didn’t have was a table. With the attic being at the top of four stories of switchback, narrow stairs he decided he’d design a table to be built right in the attic itself.
Over Thanksgiving dinner he explained the layouts of his design to the most able and willing handyman we knew, our Uncle Dick. To no one’s surprise he volunteered to help Spence. He showed up at his front door the next day with our Uncle Joe, a fully-equipped toolbox, and a full head of ideas to make sure this table was built to last. A few weeks later, with the help of our cousins Ryan and Kelsey, and his roommate Roy, the table was standing and Spencer was ready to start playing office.
Cousin Ryan, Uncle Dick, Uncle Joe- fall 2014
It didn’t take long before his friends, who were also in the beginning stages of building their own businesses, got wind of the attic-office table. It quickly became a gathering place for them; like boys in a tree house. Except, this was a mature group of young men who found support and encouragement from one another as they laid the groundwork for their dreams.
Jackson Mann spoke about what the times around the table meant to him as he was in the beginnings stages of founding his high-fidelity earplug company- Vibes.
"The table served as home base for a motley crew of creativity - bringing different perspectives, experiences and businesses to one place. In a weird way, it felt like the “Wild West” at the time. Everyone embarking upon their own independent adventure into the unknown, with the support of others to keep them pushing though the growing pains we all commonly shared. In some ways it was an incubator, in others it was a fraternity but mostly it was a support system for a group of soon to be friends who had all recently left the linear path of the 9-5 to pursue their passions.”
Ahmed El Shouragy, Co-Founder of the pet goods and apparel line Lucy and Co., was also a regular around the table. He recalled,
“Every one of us was still in the very early stages of our individual endeavors. It feels like somehow those sessions were the spark we all needed. Friendships were formed and hearts were inspired. We all signed our name somewhere on the underside of the table as a way to immortalize those work sessions. I was so honored to be part of something like that.”
left to right: Andy Blaschko, David Chang, Roy Son, Jackson Mann- winter 2015
Naturally, as their businesses grew, the space required to run them did too. The gatherings around the table grew sparse as leases were signed for the budding businesses. The tables first season— as launching pad— had run its course.
The table would be disassembled and reassembled twice over the next year. Once down a flight of stairs into Roy Son’s photography studio (also a dining room), where it functioned as a prop for photoshoots and to hold gatherings of people sharing meals. The second move was in October of 2016, this time across city limits to Golden Valley, MN. It was then assembled into its third and current role as Sota Clothing’s first official conference table.
Golden Valley office- fall 2016
The gatherings held around the table look quite different from its early days of hosting entrepreneurs in hot pursuit of their dreams. Yet the energy upon its panels, emitted from ideas being explored and ambitions tended to remains. In any given week product is developed, collaborations are formed, interviews are conducted, conflicts resolved, and next steps are spoken at this four-paneled table.
On Sota Clothing’s horizon is yet another move to find a building that will accommodate this past year’s growth while also providing extra space to grow into. As we explore our options we have plenty to keep in mind. Questions like: How can we re-work the warehouse? Whose office will be where? Which walls can come down and which ones cannot? This next move will give us more square footage to play with than we have ever had before. Yet, it is difficult to visualize how to best optimize the space. Perhaps we will defer to what has served us well in the past. We will let the table claim its space first, serving as our point of reference, enabling the rest of the space to follow suit. And as its next role is claimed we will all be anticipating the fruit that is yet to be born atop our cedar planked, four paneled table.