Community, Connection and Giving Back - The Stackwood Story
I remember first walking into Stackwood and feeling a calm, casual peaceful vibe. I love their ethos of community, connection and giving back and their supportive and connected community. So I thought it was time I sat down with Sarah Bell, founder of Stackwood, to talk about how she has grown this community, not only for those who work there, but for the general public to enjoy and be a part of.
On Growing a Business
Six years ago Sarah started Willow and the Bowerbird, a retail store on George Street in East Fremantle which stocks products from local makers. “I really like supporting local makers especially those who are just starting out in the world.” After awhile she says “I started daydreaming about creating a space where you could have workshops and events based around wholesome living and then this [Stackwood] evolved.”
“I’m a big picture thinker,” she says “I had no clue of the finer details and the amount of money it would take. I’m not a big corporation with investors. It’s just me. So I’ve had to learn everything on the job; making lots of mistakes and learning from it.”
Sarah’s courage and her passion for wanting to create this community have given her the impetus to take this leap. “I never feel like I’ve got it all sussed. There’s alway something I could be doing better….Running this business is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done…but now it’s starting to feel like it’s paying off.”
“It has evolved and grown in two years… I love that I’ve created a dynamic space that has been used - created something out of nothing. There’s a vibe. When there are people here, at one of our markets or a beautiful wedding it gives me the warm fuzzies. It’s got it’s own vibe - it’s own thing going. But it has been really hard work.”
On Looking After Her Mental Health
Sarah says that looking after her own mental health has been important. “In the beginning I wasn’t giving myself enough days off.” The way businesses are run today is very different from how they were run in the past. Faxes are a thing of the past and social technology has come to be at the forefront of our lives.
“We’re always switched on - replying, checking, messaging, posting…That’s how life runs for everyone even if you don’t have a business. You have to schedule time in to slow down and get back to basics,” she says, “I’ve had to make sure I give myself two days off a week. It has been key to my mental health because, if you don’t, you stress and you don’t function well. So giving myself time out from the business, without answering emails or checking social media, has been the key to keeping me going in my business.”
On Her Vision
Sarah’s vision for Stackwood is all about “bringing community together, bringing back lost skills and helping people reconnect through their hands” whether it’s making something through their craft workshops, learning new skills or planting a tomato on their community gardening days, or cooking and sitting down to a meal together. “That’s my core belief, and, creating a community while you’re doing it.”
“I want (people) to feel like this is their place. It’s not mine, it’s been made for everyone to use and experience in whatever way they wish to - a workshop or coffee, a party or a wedding. It’s a hub that they can hang out in. You can literally come and hang out here. Hang out in the backyard. I want them to feel like its their home too.”
“If they went away feeling inspired from a workshop or event wanting to make some changes in their life then that would be cool. We (the staff) have lunch together every Friday, there are food trucks on Wednesday evenings. People are using the space. Lots of satellites of communities coming together here, connecting and growing.”
“Community is connection. Feeling connected to something. That there’s more than just you at home. It’s giving back. There’s a lot of disconnection in today’s world. We are actually bringing people together. Face-to-face, real life interactions and conversations through community.”
Sarah says that being creative does not have to mean physically making something. It could be gardening or singing. “Even running the shop is a creative thing…being creative is juice for the soul! It’s an expression so that you can share that part of you with other people. It’s translation of who you are. Sharing your gifts with the world. It’s a part of you.”