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Three Years of Kinship

As the golden hues of sunrise mark a new day, so too does every chapter in Kindred's journey mark a moment of passion, community, and some sort of mess because, new day, new display! Many of you have sat at our communal table, feeling the warmth and inclusivity that defines our space. But do you know the story of how Kindred came to be? Today, I want to pull back the curtains and share the beautiful tale of our inception. From a mere idea (actually several ideas) to a thriving community hub, this is our story.

I’ve wanted to start a business since I was about 13 years old. Back then my idea was a coffee shop - and I was undoubtedly heavily influenced by “Friends” and “Seinfeld”. The coffee shop was such a romantic place where people came to gather, read, console and just be together. There was, and is, a real community around your local haunts. 

At another time in my life it was a metaphysical shop - most shops I found myself in were filled with mass-manufactured and exploitative products. I felt a shop so focused on the energy and aura of things should be filled with things that exude that, most shops felt filled with lifeless things. 

After I moved up to the Pacific Northwest and got myself my first flock of chickens - the gateway drug into homesteading - I thought a homesteading shop might be where I’d finally make the jump into entrepreneurship. This decision was influenced by the oh-so-lovely, Portland Homestead Supply in Sellwood.

In reality my first “shop” was Nostalgic Moon, a vintage resale business. I had an Etsy shop that I ran out of my garage, a booth at Old Glory in downtown Vancouver and for a brief stint, a small studio in a historic building downtown filled with mostly lawyers. Nostalgic Moon started in January, 2016. My hands were freezing but the garage had the best light. I slowly started amassing a collection, which is after all why I started the business. It means I get to do one of my favorite things ever - SHOP! 

In July of 2016 I got a call from my mom. “I have brain cancer. It’s Stage Four.” I left for the desert about two weeks later for what would be a three-month stint in Arizona being my mom’s full-time caregiver, working remotely full-time but also trying to keep the dream of Nostalgic Moon alive. I had just gotten started and I was doing it. Making sales, gaining followers… I wasn’t ready to let it go yet. 

My mom passed on August 30th, 2017.

I found out I was pregnant in October and Nostalgic Moon fizzled out completely on November 30, 2017. I was devastated and lost. I was elated at the thoughts of my new, growing family and I was tired and needed rest. 

What followed was a few more years of that remote customer service job, a baby I was absolutely unprepared for, a new, rather large plot of land to tend and I was barely keeping my head above water with it all. Countless conversations ensued with my partner, Matthew, and we decided it was time for me to quit my job and pursue something more. 

Those pivotal moments that happen that shift your perspective on life and how you wanna live it include: losing someone close to you, and having a baby. I had just done both within a year of each other so I had a TON of questions and zero answers.

After Lark was born I threw myself into our little homestead. I thought that nesting and creating a space for us to thrive would heal me - and it did for awhile. I planted a huge garden, we got another flock of chickens (we’re up to a bakers dozen at this point, with a brief stint with a rooster named Alan), and I was sure this was helping. Then, February 2020 brought with it a global pandemic. 

So we all did what we had to do to survive and get through those early lockdown days. For me, that included preparing a will. Loss, I had learned, can happen at any time. And of course we don’t want to talk about it. It’s uncomfortable as all hell to talk about someone else dying, let alone ME dying. But I knew that I had a responsibility to Lark to be sure she was taken care of should something terrible happen to her dad or I, or both. 

So we started filling out all the info for our will, and then came to the part where we name guardians for our child. Lark was about a year and a half when we did this so this “guardian” thing would be applicable for many many years. If you’re like me, you think that you just ask some friends and write down some names and that’s that. Well, it’s not. I spoke with a lawyer on the phone and basically what he told me was “Sure they’ll take what you write down into account but it’s ultimately something that gets decided in court after the fact.”  After that phone call I started taking stock of the folks I had in my life who did have a real relationship with Lark. Given the circumstances at the time it wasn’t much but even despite the pandemic, I had been focusing so much on our own wellbeing that I had forgotten about the health and wellbeing of the community around us. The community I would be asking to care for my most beloved in the event that I couldn’t. Where is my village? Who will I be leaving Lark with if it’s my time to go?

The more I thought about it, the more this felt like a really integral piece missing from the common experience. Would we be as divided, as binary, if we felt more like a community? If we remembered that we are more alike than we are different? 

Then I thought of my family growing up. We were all so different, yet each (Christian) holiday we gathered around a huge table and let our grievances go - at least until we were done with dinner. We sat, we ate, we laughed, we played games, we watched games, and yes, we argued. And all of this was done knowing that regardless, we were family, we were kin, and we were always rooting for each other, regardless of those differences. 

So, this is the moment all of those past ideas collided with one another. Because my idea of community began at a table, in a place that felt like home. In a place where we challenged our ideas and the status quo, where we held each other accountable and held each other up. And that’s where it all started.

I worked on the business plan for Kindred for most of 2020. I took a class through Mercy Corps, found a mentor through SCORE and eventually got to a place where I needed to start looking at spaces. And yes, I know it’s crazy. I might as well have told people I was starting a newspaper. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this is what our community needed in order to kickstart some much needed collective healing. Not to mention, during those early lockdown days we witnessed our impact on the planet, or lack thereof, and it had us all talking about climate change and what we needed to do to address it in a way I had never experienced before. Another thing that makes you wake the hell up about it - having a kid and knowing that the weather we’re having now is the most normal they’ll experience in their lifetime. 

Once I found the basement space I knew I had to go for it. I toured it, got in my car and one of my mom’s favorite songs was playing, “Get What You Give” by the New Radicals. I felt the weight of that song, the memories of my mom, and the reality of the moment wash over me. It felt as if the universe was aligning, and a sign that this was the right path.

Every step of this journey has taught me the true essence of community. Kindred wasn’t just about starting a business; it was about recreating that table from my childhood memories, but on a larger scale. A space where people from all walks of life could come, share, laugh, cry, learn, and feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

Starting Kindred in the middle of a pandemic might have seemed like a wild idea, but in truth, it was the perfect time. With the world paused and reeling, people were longing for connection, for a place where they could be reminded of the joys and sorrows we all share. It is my hope that Kindred has become that haven, a community sanctuary.

I curate every element of Kindred carefully. From the layout to the products to the workshops and events, each choice was made with the community in mind. The space was designed to be inclusive, inviting, and filled with warmth and love. Kindred has become the melting pot of various cultures, ideas, and stories and I hope it continues to grow in this way. 

But the real beauty of Kindred isn’t in its aesthetics or the things we sell; it’s in the people who walk through our doors every day. The shared smiles, the understanding nods, the engaging conversations – that’s the heart of Kindred. And to see people embrace and nurture this vision has been the most rewarding journey of my life.

Starting this venture was indeed a rollercoaster of emotions. But every challenge, every doubt, every tear was worth it. Because with Kindred, I wasn't just building a business; I was building a legacy of love, community, and kinship.

To all those who have walked this journey with me, from the early days of Nostalgic Moon to the vibrant heart of Kindred, I am forever grateful. Every story shared, every hand extended in support, every encouraging word – they have all kept me going. 

Kindred is not just a testament to my journey or my dreams; it’s a testament to all of us. To the strength of community, the power of unity, and the magic that happens when we come together as one.

In the words of the New Radicals, “You've got the music in you, don't let go. You've got the music in you, one dance left.” Let’s keep dancing together, cherishing every moment, and making Kindred a beacon of hope, love, and unity. Thank you. I love you. 

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