Located in Downtown Oakland, Viscera is centrally nestled amongst the buildings on Broadway. When you enter the shop, you're instantly drawn to the design and architecture of the space, but that's no surprise especially when you learn of the owner's Architectural & City Planning background. As you look down the racks of clothing elegantly lined against the wall, you notice the palette is simple and tasteful. Not only is everything easy on the eyes, but you also feel a sense of ease as you get a friendly greeting by none other than the owner herself. Meet Ari. The founder of Viscera. Younger than you think and wiser than you know, she proudly followed her passion just a year ago and opened this brick & mortar.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Ari as she juggled my endless amount of questions & the friendly customers in her shop. Watching her tell stories about each product with her customers was equally inspiring as her story about how Viscera was founded. The range of products are all carefully curated from designers across the U.S. Her commitment to American made apparel makes it easy for everyone to find their quality staples in one place. With careful curation and a small brick & mortar, comes the obvious. This isn't your typical fast fashion destination. You may not find something when you visit, or you'll end up finding your favorite piece you wish you could wear everyday.
Here are some key takeaways from our conversation:
It ain't easy. Find your support.
Starting a business and opening up a shop isn't easy. Especially in the fashion industry where the market feels saturated and the hours are long. One of her main tips to anyone thinking of owning their own business is to talk to other business owners. Reach out and build your support community, because in the end you'll run into challenges you've never dealt with before and others will be able to help you out.
Give yourself time.
Oh the gift of time. If only we could get more time in life, but that's not the reality. Because of this we rush through things, we set ridiculous deadlines and we work ourselves crazy. In the end is it really worth it? For Ari, if she could do things differently she would've given herself more time. Time in between having two jobs, time before just opening up the shop and some time by finding more help. In the end, we need to take care of ourselves and when we do, we'll still get shit done, but at least be happy and healthy.
Have a "Master Plan" of what's next.
It is one thing to start a business and open up a brick &mortar, but another to have a plan for the long run. Thinking about how you continually innovate is key. Ari saw her shop as a incubator in terms of seeing how she could do all branding and space design internally. She eventually sees Viscera extending to be a creative studio focused on helping other small business owners with their creative needs, as this is normally a paint point and area that is easily forgotten by most shops. Not only will she be able to provide the creative assets and space planning needed, she'll also be able to empathize on a deeper level, shop owner to shop owner.
I'm always grateful for the inspiration that local shop owners like Ari provide. In a world of fast fashion, it is easy to forget about these special brick & mortars that commit themselves to quality and sustainability.
If you're ever in Oakland, stop by and say hi to Ari. She'll have no problem telling you the special stories behind each product she carries. You'll find shopping a little more human again.