How we went from a garage to a 3,000 square foot production facility

Posted by Taylor Barkin on

Last week we moved into a new 3,000 square foot Denver workshop that will be home to our production facility, creative space and retail front. I always find myself motivated by hearing the stories of those around me so I wanted to share our story of how we got to this point and where we plan on going.
For starters, you may or may not be familiar with the faces behind our brand but I'm Taylor and I run Moore with my partner, best friend and (almost!) husband Tanner. I am the business fanatic and Tanner is all things creative.
We began printing T-shirts in high school (We have been together for 9 years) and quickly began getting press and a constant flow of work to print custom shirts for people. We spent years in Tanners parents garage growing our business, buying larger equipment and running bigger and bigger jobs. My first year in college was when we said okay, we need to either go big with this or stop it for good because our current situation just wasn't practical anymore. We then started looking into junky warehouses which at the time seemed amazing. We eventually found one that felt huge and had plenty of room to grow and to do the custom jobs that helped us pay the bills. Early on in this space we had one goal: Eliminate custom work and have our own clothing line support us financially, with time of course. We worked and worked and worked. We did custom job after custom job and while we made good money, we weren't fulfilled and it felt like our customers were entitled and we just didn't feel happy with what we were doing. We then sat down and said okay, now that we know what our goal is, we know how to screen print and we have an idea of what we are doing in business but how will we possibly get there? We knew so many people creating work with the Colorado flag. We knew customers ate it up but we weren't interested in doing what everyone else did. We then came up with a simple vision: create products that are Colorado, but different. We brain stormed our first collection of about 8 designs and people began to really like them. This is when we really saw our potential and decided to really try doing what we really wanted to do.
We started participating in local markets, made some side cash but still paid the bills with custom jobs. We kept thinking about how we could continuously create new designs to keep people interested. This was the same time that we sat down and solidified what our brand was going to be. When we started to focus on our creative potential we were able to phase out custom jobs until we were finally able to say "we don't actually offer this service anymore."
We then started participating in about 2 markets a month through the summer while growing our designs and going to school. Throughout college I was beyond determined to avoid having to get a job working for someone else. I knew that we had something cool going for us and I just didn't feel right wasting that potential. I stacked my classes so I would only go 2 days a week and would be at our shop the rest of the week printing shirts, connecting with retailers, going to markets and everything in between.
When it came time to graduate I was scared. I was completing my HR degree from one of the top business schools in Colorado. I was faced with the option to work for someone else or pursue my passion. Prior to graduating I really didn't want to get an internship but I knew in the back of my head that it would be good for me and that it was the prime time in my life to get one. I got hired for one and soon enough they offered me a job a few months before graduating. My parents were thrilled that I had a job lined up and I felt like I would be ignorant if I didn't take something that fell into my lap so I did.
I ended up staying at this job for a year, doing mostly HR focused work. I learned things related to my interest of management and working with people but I mostly learned things about myself during this time. I made friends for life, had so many laughs and learned that work doesn't need to be your entire life. I learned how to manage people and how not to manage people. I saw how my boss treated me and knew what motivated me and what didn't as an employee. I also saw what burnout was. I was in a culture that didn't support rewarding you for hard work and didn't encourage taking time for yourself. This really got to me after our busiest holiday season when I worked harder than I ever had, only on weekends for the business while trying to perform well at my job during the 40 hours a week I had to put in. Prior to this job I was used to working hard and giving myself a break when the insane holiday madness was over.
I stayed with my job until it just didn't feel right anymore and when I felt like my growth there was maxed out. I knew that when I left there it would be the point that I dove into running Moore full time. I was scared to death when I graduated college about surviving the real world but after this period of personal growth I felt ready. Right before I quit I knew our lease at our junky warehouse was almost up. We could either keep our dirt cheap rent or we could make a move towards bigger and better things.
We started looking for storefronts in the RiNo neighborhood in Denver and while some seemed awesome, the monthly rent was surely going to put us out of business. It was always our dream to have production and retail in the same space. Something that sets us aside from our competitors is the fact that we do our production in house so we wanted to have people be able to shop and see us print at the same time. The only problem with this is that we need space and every square foot in Denver is expensive and as we quickly found out, it's really not affordable. This is when we started looking into different alternatives. Eventually a friend of a friend spoke to a Denver developer about a retail space that would be cool for us. We ended up meeting with him and mutually decided that it just wasn't going to be a good business move. He then told us about a project he was working on that was close to RiNo but not really in a prime shopping district. We decided to take a look just to see and fell in love on the first walk through. It hit everything on our list, including a section for retail. We ultimately decided that this was going to be the best move financially and for our growth. The building was a huge brick warehouse that was progressively being broken down into smaller creative/ production spaces for people like us. We ended up committing to a 3,000 square foot space in the building that was set to be built out specifically for our needs. We knew that we would have some more space than we could fill for now so we reached out to our friend Kiwi who owns Craft Boner to see if she wanted to share the space with us. We mostly wanted to create an environment full of creativity so that we could all feel motivated to keep growing and doing what we love. We felt like we could all positively feed off one another and wanted to give it a try. As we started collaborating more and more, we have started to come up with some amazing plans for the space including a shared retail space that will showcase both of our products and provide our local customers with a place to come shop.
Where do we go from here?
We have moved in! We are now in the process of doing the necessary build outs and getting the retail front pulled together for people to come shop at. It's our goal, first to have a top notch production facility and fulfillment center where we can also feel creative to keep making things that our customers love. We often have people wanting to pick things up to save on shipping so we wanted to create a destination for people to come shop as well. It is also incredibly important for us to remain personal with our customers so if people want to come hang out, see what we do, just say hi or talk business then we'd love to. Once it is all together, we are excited to welcome anyone and everyone to our space!

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