Monday, August 07, 2006

Sinking in

Or maybe just sinking.

A little update on the health thing. Yes, I have this metal poisoning and we've begun chelation treatment. Some of the damage may be irreversible.

Some have asked why I'm getting poisioned by exposure that other people are not poisoned by. The best I can tell you is the current working theory. I probably got sick from lead - or MS (apparently, that's still what the docs think!) - and this caused damage to my system that has made me vulnerable to what would normally be considered a safe exposure. I may now be 'sensitive'. I'll be working with the docs, an acupuncturist, and others, to see what I can do to reverse this. Currently, their not offering a lot of hope.

Meanwhile, the ramifications are profound. I can't work in my own store. Or, I can't touch the yarns. Which makes it difficult to serve customers. I, also, have to be concerned about sitting on the upholstered furnishings.

I need to consider the future possibilities of me being in this business. As Circles is becoming a co-operative, my presence may not be necessary. Though, many would say that it still is. But I have to consider the physical and emotional toll on me. Right now it's quite painful to be in my shop full of beautiful fibers, watching others touch and work with them, while for me they are a poison.

Either my role at Circles has to change or Circles has to change if Circles is to stay alive and I am to maintain health (or not get worse.) Some options other than me simply changing careers:

1) I become more of a product developer and promoter. I don't work in the shop. I have a presence as the founder/designer and can do some of the planning management, but there is a shop manager. Or the Co-op members run the show. I could retain a role as a visionary guide.

2) Circles become a specialty shop carrying only yarns that are dyed without metals - or that fully disclose the production process. I don't know what's out there, so I don't have a sense of what kind of offering this would look like. But we'd probably have to invest in a decent online store to reach a broad enough customer base to be sustainable. We might also have to develop our own product line. (One person has already suggested that we might alter our mission in El Salvador a bit and teach them to dye yarns with low eco-impact dyes. This could become our own production facility.)

3) There could be some hybrid where one side of the shop - we have two physically separate spaces - is conventional and the other is eco-conscious. I couldn't serve customers on the conventional side.

4) We become a member-driven fiber arts co-operative where people pay a monthly (or annual) membership fee to support the space and the inventory. (The fee can be applied to product purchases and would include benefits.) There might still be a shop open to the public to supplement income and to sell products developed by the co-operative. The focus could be more on a kind of design studio. Creating our own patterns, kits, even yarns or finished garments. Members would manage the business (financial planning, marketing, product development, etc. and would supplement a base staff in the shop). I would simply be another member. Designs that became patterns or kits would be part of the collaborative product development and members would earn money on consignment from the sales of their designs.

I suppose that some of these ideas could be combined. These are my preliminary thoughts. I'm emotionally overwrought right now and am just trying to get some ideas out. I'm nowhere near a decision-making state of mind. Circles, as a concept is in my blood and it's hard for me to imagine letting it go. Circles, as a reality, is a phenomenal community of support and I couldn't endure the loss of that on top of everything else I'm dealing with. So, somehow, Circles has to go on. Even if I'm a supporting actor in the Circles show. For that to happen, others have to step forward to really grab some of the reins. Great things could happen, though, if even one or two people found themselves compelled to dive in and scoop the keys off the floor off the deep end that I'm sinking into. Besides, I apparently haven't lost the ability to type! I can always contribute business/community ideas and writings for newsletters, PR and products.

I'm putting it out there to the universe: how's this going to work?