If you follow along on our instagram account, you may have noticed a particular hashtag we share on some of our images: #communityovercompetition. It’s been one of the most fun discoveries of our little shop so far, to know there is a whole hashtag of like minded people out there with the same values and ideas. It was like a warm instagram hug saying, hey friend!!!!
Community over competition is the idea that as small business owners, we value people over profits. Relationships will always be the most important part of what we do. Our business plan was developed with the core operating belief that people matter, and we want to serve them well. Customer service and community service are hand in hand priorities for us. One of the reasons we wanted to start the Indigo Mill was to pool our efforts to support local organizations that are making a difference. It’s important to us to build ties to others and walk in relationship.
As creatives, we are motivated by a desire to make, not to win. Competition has a place, and can be a healthy motivator to push yourself to your fullest potential. But for us, the best practice isn’t focusing on how much our “competitors” have of our pie, it’s focusing on how we can do our thing the best we know how and in doing so, serve our clients the best way we are able. By focusing on our own contributions to the greater good, and not what others are up to, we aren’t distracted by someone else’s story. We want to cheer our fellow creatives on. Their success doesn’t mean anything but a win for the rest of us. There’s room for everyone at the table.
Think of a really important, pinnacle type moment in your life. It probably wouldn’t take long to start the list in your mind of the people behind that moment: the people that support, inspired, encouraged and loved you on your way there. So many people are turning their focus away from the big bad competition and instead to how they can dream bigger and love harder. If you need to look for us, you can find us jumping feet first into any situation we can be part of that conversation.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17
When we decided to put a name on our paper goods and take our show on the road, it really didn’t take us long to find the right fit. From the very first days of our partnership, we have been guided more by our internal meter of what we want our business to represent than making a (literal!) name for ourselves.
The Indigo Mill has a pretty special backstory. Our original intention was to call ourselves the Millhouse. One of the values that is really important to all three of us is supporting our local community, and Greenville really emerged as a standout in the textile industry dating as far back as the 18th century. If you drive around, there is visual evidence of that rich heritage all over town in the old brick mill buildings that have become treasured landmarks. We embraced these old mills because obviously as artists we appreciate the raw beauty of the towering crumbly brick buildings. More than being visually appealing, though, these mills represented a generation of women that we descended from that worked with their hands to provide. They dedicated themselves to a craft within those walls. They led simple lives in the mill houses nearby and made a quiet impact with their steady hands and steady dedication to service.
To us, there is nothing that could have better encompassed our baseline principles of supporting our local community and using our hands to make a product that will hopefully, ultimately bring us together with people from all over and have a positive impact on the world we are part of. Still, as we began referring to ourselves as the Millhouse it didn’t sit quite right. It was cool but left some ambiguity in terms of an actual product. As we looked at the smudgy ink drawing of the millhouse Lindsey did for our logo, one of us blurted out what about Indigo? Indigo is, of course, a staple to anyone offering paper goods, and as it so happens, it is also the state color of South Carolina, thanks to the understated importance of the indigo plant to the South Carolina industry and economy in the era of cotton and tobacco.
Once we hit on Indigo, it was like the clouds parted and the angels sang. Now we knew who we were meant to be! The wax seal logo and handwritten lettering seemed like a perfect way to “seal” the deal (don’t ever take yourself too seriously to miss an opportunity for cheesy joke!). We couldn’t be more proud of the ties to history and place that our logo and name represent and we are grateful to be part of a place with such a rich heritage.
What happens in real life when three people decide to put a formal stamp on their creative efforts and start a business? Well, we aren’t experts, but we feel like we have lived in this “small business owner” world long enough to know that it’s a lot different than it looks on Instagram! There were visions of chic tortoise rimmed glasses and messy perfect top knots, a bustling creative warehouse space and sleek laptops. The coffee was always hot and the ideas were always flowing.
Instagram is a powerful tool for connecting people, but we all know the picture painted on the grid isn’t always exactly true. Real life looks a little less… curated, to put it nicely! Our top knots are on the greasy side of shiny and if the coffee is hot, we certainly aren’t drinking it because more than likely, one of our kids needs us right that minute for something. Although not half as glamorous as we might have imagined, this journey to making The Indigo Mill official has been amazing for all three of us. The process of seeing something you have dreamed about for so long come to life is incredible, even if not without bumps and bruises along the way. We are so happy to see this little idea bloom into a real place where we can meet new people and come alongside them to help make some of life’s most important occasions that much more special. YOU, dear reader, are part of our dream come true! Thank you for joining us as we see what lies beyond the bend. Welcome and strap in— here we go!