This past year with we have had an influx of curiosity about our story. The concept, the ideas and how Pinnovate came to be. So we thought we’d share a little bit about ourselves.The reality is that Pinnovate began with an event, that spawned an idea, which turned into a rash decision, which snowballed into a dream of a lifetime.
It was my 40th birthday. Yes, you can go into business after you’re 40! My birthday is actually January 14th and always falls during NFL playoff time and usually I would rather watch my beloved Patriots win another Super Bowl than celebrate my birthday! Anyhow, my 40th birthday was different. For the first time in my adult life I had a remarkable number of women who I truly wanted to celebrate with . My husband, Sameer, organized a paint night in our home where 20 of my nearest and dearest all gathered to celebrate ME! The experience of good food, good company and comfort was amazing. I was on a birthday high when the idea of Pinnovate began.
Now, the truth is I am a terrible painter. I do however love a good DIY home project. My house, like many women around me, was a mishmash of 1/2 finished projects and DIY starter projects which were missing pieces. Ideas I had started or loved at other peoples homes, but felt too daunting for me to finish once they were started. A craft and DIY lover, yes, but always afraid that what I would make would turn out crappy.
There it was. If only there were a place that had everything in one spot for me to go to and create what I wanted once in a while… To guide me and help me with materials, paint, embellishments …better yet, what if it had wine, and my girl friends, and I could spend the night re-creating my birthday?! The wheels started turning and Pinnovate was conceptualized.
So the rash decision came next. Lots of people have ideas, really good ideas. My idea was good, but was it as brilliant as I thought? I needed to bounce it off of some entrepreneurs. The first person I told was my dear friend and serial business mom, Kari. I explained the idea and she warned me to NEVER let it leave my lips again. She convinced me it was a great concept and scared me into thinking someone else was going to open it faster than I could blink so I needed to move. I spent the following days googling, thinking and scheming on how I was going to open a business without my husband finding out! I headed on a trip the following week with another dear friend of mine, a lawyer, Meenu, a patent and trade mark lawyer ironically enough. By the time our vacation was over, patents were in, trademarks were done, and the name was chosen. Lawyers move fast as well.
At this point I had a few more ideas brought into the fold of my business. Children. No longer would Pinnovate be an adult and corporate venue, but it would have to be inclusive of children. The lack of children’s arts programs in our city was blaring and the camps and activities that I was looking for for my own 3 children didn’t exist. I wanted a birthday venue for Littles, as well as families to be able to join the fun. Maybe even a splatter room … but there still had to be food and wine.
I came home and unloaded the idea of Pinnovate on my husband. I even went as far as mentioning there would be Fiasco gelato there … his favourite! He didn’t care. His concern was our children (3 under 7), our family, and our marriage. We had an amazing life. At the time I was a part time flight attendant, we travelled the world and had no complaints. We spent a few days in heavy negotiations and he layed down some stipulations to opening Pinnovate. This “studio” had to be within 10 minutes of our home, I needed to show him a legitimate business plan,(money is not my forte), and our family had to be priority #1. Within 48 hours I had found my space and booked a meeting with the developer with a snazzy power point presentation. I googled “how to write a business plan” and spent the night clicking away on the ipad. I had never needed a laptop before.
The lease was signed and done within 4 weeks of my first conversation with Kari, who had been in Hawaii for the month. She came home from her trip and fell off her chair at what I had done! I was crazy and had no clue what I was getting myself into at that point.
It came time to google again, “how to build a commercial property”. I had a space now, and a 5 year commitment, so I needed a contractor. I phoned my friend who had built my basement 3 years earlier in hopes of getting a good recommendation of where to start. He picked up his phone and said he was in the middle of making a commercial property and would have to call me back. There he was. Having someone who we could trust with this vision was integral to our start up and build out. I drew a quick drawing of our space and sent it to him. This was Pinnovate, or so I had imagined.
The next 12 months are truly a blur. The hardest year of my life. There were meetings after meetings. Things I hadn’t thought about when I decided Pinnovate was a “cute idea”. The marketing, websites, construction, food, liquor and gaming, permits, the city, hiring, re-hiring, ordering, supply, fire regulations, payroll, partnerships, photos, and of course the family. The very neglected family. I went from a lady of leisure, and being a very present parent for essentially disappearing for days on end. The snowball was rolling we were in too deep to back out. I was still passionate, but now the reality was setting in of what I had done and I was scared. My house was a disaster, my children missed me, my husband was exhausted and sometimes hated me, my bestie Kari, (who was now whole heartedly invested in my business) wanted to kill me, and I hadn’t slept in months making me a treat to be around!
A few things carried us through that time. The four amazing grandparents who essentially raised our children for 18 months, and the cousins and friends who babysat on a regular basis. Looking back, there were also 3 main “business” friends who really helped us through that pre-opening year. People who encouraged us, guided us and gave us advice 24/7 on every question we had. Included in them were my friend Debra Van Dyke, the owner of Frilly Lilly who I met on a flight (karma is a funny thing). We would chat about what Pinnovate should “look like” and feel like, things I had no experience with. The branding of our space has been a key component to our success and has helped legitimizing what we do, and how we plan to scale our business. A strong mentor and business woman who always refocused me on the importance of creating something amazing. The Rosso Coffee family who fielded our 10 million business questions on everything from construction to liquor licensing, to staffing, payroll, what the costs of things should be. Anytime I would ask Sameer about ANOTHER new idea, or freak out over what was happening, he would deflect it say “I dunno, call Jessie”. She always picked up the phone, and shared her experience with no hesitation. Finally Richard Osioway, papa bear as I call him, the founder of Coco Brooks, who I hope every local entrepreneur gets to meet in their journey. A deeply spiritual, kind, and wonderful humanitarian. His wisdom and talks about focusing on our children, family, service, and helping others throughout this business journey were beautiful reminders of what matters in life. In a time when we were under such immense pressure, having someone who balanced it all and gives you perspective is a gift. Richard Osioway was a gift to Sameer and I, and to our family.
From idea to opening, was in total, 16 months. Looking back to that time it is still surreal that Pinnovate all came together the way that it did. Starting a business is no easy feat, but in some instances ignorance is bliss. The lessons learned, the people who carried us and the family and friends who banded around us is a testament to what we were on opening day, but that really is how it all began. An idea, Google, a few chance meetings, friends and family.