A few weeks ago, Michael and I had the pleasure of meeting a new OTR neighbor [a transplant from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn!]. Upon being introduced to us, he said, “Oh, you’re the seed bomb people.” Wow, our reputation preceded us? We make a lot of things but, at this point, yes, we are the seed bomb people. This was a peculiar sort of validation that made me feel more self-satisfied than I could have anticipated.
When I left my last greige cubicle almost three years ago, I fully expected to find another position that would be a better fit for me. While I searched for it, I resurrected VisuaLingual, the umbrella under which Michael and I had executed design commissions and esoteric self-authored projects in the past. It was a way to stay creative and productive while job-hunting, and it was an attempt at fulfilling that nebulous, yet critical, task of “getting my name out there.” I started with a fairly simple question: what if the Ohio River were a coaster puzzle on your coffee table?
My job search was taking a while, which was a pretext for another question: what if a map of Over-the-Rhine were to show its buildings instead of its streets?
As time permitted, Michael and I started collaborating again, and asking more questions: what if bits and pieces of neighborhood ghost signs could become inspirational aphorisms?
As weeks turned to months, my job search became more and more discouraging, and eventually demoralizing. But, a curious thing happened on my way to wallowing in self-pity. I realized that I’m not prepared to let this particular moment in this particular place make me feel worthless. I continued looking and applying while, at the same time, our self-initiated work continued to occupy more of our time. Without concrete expectations, any positive response felt like a victory. Each minor success fueled more small-scale experiments.
What if seed bombs could be produced and marketed as a product?
To our shock and amazement, our seed bombs became a hit last fall, making their appearance on the pages of magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Almost overnight, stores started contacting us, and production scaled up from dozens to hundreds at once. I still remember feeling like a rock star when we filled our first wholesale order for 100 seed bomb pouches. Whew!
So, here we are. If someone had asked me three years ago to describe my ideal job, I think I’ve actually made a concerted effort at creating it. Sure, I’d never expected to have to know the difference between a packing slip and a bill of lading, or to have shipping costs memorized, but I’m grateful to have been learning as much as I have.
Yesterday, I sent out a freight shipment of 3,000 seed bomb pouches to a distribution center in Pennsylvania. I didn’t even bother taking any photos this time! By now, we don’t feel like rock stars anymore. We’re just the seed bomb people, and we’re pleased to make your acquaintance.