She’s actually redefined a lot of things in life for us! And we are honored to have her share on our blog with you about brand partnerships, particularly her experience working with us to design her studio and carry it to completion.
Mercury Mosaics, The Vision, the Why
First, I’m kicking this off by extending my respect and gratitude for the construction 2 style brand. The spirit of c2s is entrepreneurial, their Founder & Artistic Director, Morgan Molitor, embodies some of my favorite quotes:
“Entrepreneur, noun; someone who is willing to live a few years like most people won’t, so that she can spend the rest of her life like most people can’t.” ~Author Unknown
As well as:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin
It’s not about what it looks like when it’s perfect and everything is working, it’s what you do when you’re down for the count and how you move through it – building the base stronger than previously perceived. This is what I have gotten from being connected to community through c2s.
For the Design Studio, before embarking on the renovation, I had to start with the Why. In this blog, I articulate all about the why behind the Design Studio, partially to fuel my inner peace and partially to be clear this was a fit with the overall vision for Mercury Mosaics.
To all outside views, bringing this space to life when I started the project looked completely bananas and outright impossible. Now you know the secret behind why I like to hang out with fellow founders and visionaries.
Working with c2s to bring the vision to life really helped me think of the long-term community I was intending to be a part of in this chapter versus looking at this project as “just a renovation.” According to Morgan, I’m a deep thinker, but when it comes to something so close and personal to me, I freeze up and become an awkward, shy person who loses sight of the value I bring to the table.
It’s a wild paradox I’m often faced with, and I hear I’m not alone. When we notice weaknesses in ourselves, this is where the value of community comes in to strengthen an area that would otherwise not be as strong; thus: together, we can rise.
I came to Morgan with a vanilla shell, a future lease I had committed to, demised walls, general electrical planned, and plumbing underway. The exterior build-out of the front of the space was entirely owned by the landlord and their architect, honoring all the historical layers buildings face when they have been around 100+ years.
Getting to this place was in and of itself a milestone. It was a partial leap of faith and combined strategy. Essentially, I was reallocating our space in studio 125 for production only while adding a design studio and office down the hall for front-of-house operations.
It was essential for the long-term vision of Mercury Mosaics. Being part visionary, part implementor, and Gemini, I often find that I am at odds with myself.
Logically, I like to operate about three months out; that’s doable for me to work into my implementor and project management brain. However, as the visionary directing this brand, I also need to see one, three, and five years out, so there’s a lot of back and forth to pick the correct sequence of things and make them all play nice with the logistical side of the world.
Entrepreneurs don’t always have the luxury of making all the right decisions 100% of the time; we aren’t always privy to the exact inputs to solve large, multi-faceted equations. Thus, we tap into our intelligence, instincts, experience, profit and loss, balance sheet, and community and step forward with an authored plan.
My plan of running things is scrutinized now, weekly through L10 meetings (shout out to my EOS community), monthly through financial review, and quarterly through strategic plan review. So, there are guard rails. Guess what? There are still ways to mess up, but nothing that can’t be overcome.
In the short term, it was a scary time to commit to anything, whereas this process started in early 2021. I finalized the lease and the vanilla shell in the Spring of 2021.
Within this time, my only experience working on Morgan’s side of the fence on brand partnerships was being a brand/vendor to her and other like-hearted entrepreneurs. In my innocent-thought process, I thought, “How hard could this be?”. *Insert laughter emoji here.
“It can’t be that hard to forge brand partnerships and build out compelling content in exchange for material items, right?” Wrong, my friends, wrong.
I’m glad I went into this with this lack of knowledge because, like most of the things I build, I learn about all the blind spots once I’m too far into the woods to find a flashlight to return to the paved path.
That’s what entrepreneurialism is all about, and thank goodness Morgan and Kayla are humble, kind people that get it. They didn’t shame me for learning the hard way and were excellent coaches along the way.
At the beginning, I had this little chip on my shoulder thinking, “Ah, how hard could it be” and they just belly laughed right with me since they knew the process had begun and there was no turning back. I later took that chip and used it with some fertilizer on the front lawn of the Design Studio, where my ego joined it to water the grass out front.
It was a much more productive use for that chip and an ego that had no place in this process. So, with this out of the way, Morgan and I brainstormed about Brand Partners, the space vision, and the vendors we had established relationships with.
The next thing on the list was an update of our Media Kit. It’s a great way to gather all your credentials in one deck, showing the opportunity for the partnerships based on the track record you’ve built.
Finally comes all the pitching. Notice in this I’m not in the weeds of the items needed for the Design Studio. That isn’t how to kick off a partnership. Morgan goes into the value of a Brand collaboration in more depth here – well worth the read.
Strategic Space Programming – Consultation
One of the first things in my consultation with Morgan Molitor was diving into what kinds of events would happen in this studio. It was all about community right from the start and dreaming about utilizing the space for multiple types of uses.
And just like that, we marked up the original floor plan and moved the kitchenette to where it is now versus the original location, which is now home to our ultimate sample wall.
After that, we moved on to mood boards, and Kayla Schultz ran point on taking the notes from Morgan and my conversation and curated a look for each space.
This was an opportunity to reign it in. Morgan describes Kayla like oxygen, and it’s clear why: Kayla is certainly a dynamo, very detail-oriented, and simply an absolute delight.
Working with her to pull mood boards together was an extremely helpful exercise. The services c2s offers are all listed here to give you a flavor of what they can do for you.
Think of me like this steady force, inching along because when my Design Studio project started compared to today, the c2s services have grown like a rocket – it’s exciting to see how they’ve soared!
Once these mood boards were created, we could approach this design puzzle one room at a time versus one whole space.
I recommend this if you’re partnering with multiple brands – it allowed me to be grounded in detail while operating toward a vision. We’d use these mood boards coupled with our media kit to spark the vibe for each space and begin that process of collaborating with multiple brands.
One thing that really helped me here was being on the brand side of working with influencers. I have a lot of partnerships under my belt and truly resonate with knowing what works and am being very definite about what doesn’t.
I held very close to my core values to show up for each brand at the pitch in a way, how I would like to receive a pitch and to carry it out to the end, on what I said I would come through with.
On top of it, my goal was to show up like Morgan, delivering more than you said you would because none of the brands I reached out to, not even one, was a brand I wanted a one-time relationship with.
They were all connected to the long-term strategy that fuels the heart of Mercury Mosaics. I don’t take this lightly since we’re now celebrating 21 years in business.
That’s the age of a legal adult: humbling, wild, and a feat in and of itself. I kept this in mind when reaching out and partnering, as I only wanted to do so with legacy players out there.
Partnerships and collaborations are a lot of work, so it needed to be with brands I believed in.
With each space feeling like a moment, and our fresh media kit in hand, it was time to start diving into selections with these beloved brands. This process allowed me to understand my team’s needs in this space.
It opened up how we would use it for entertaining guests and helped illuminate opportunities for brands to shine and be part of this cutting-edge space.
After 21 years, I hadn’t been personally involved in this level of high-end design build. It has never been accessible to me based on how I’ve built Mercury Mosaics from the ground up.
Mercury Mosaics started with a modest tax refund and the sale of my jazz CD collection as the seed fund. And I’ve been pouring everything I can to fuel and grow this beauty ever since.
After the most recent 13 years of using tile as a vehicle to uplift phenomenal entrepreneurs and being in the community with them, it has been a game-changer to be on this side of brand partnerships.
I kept saying throughout the whole process, “I feel like Cinderella! Pinch me. Am I dreaming?!”
I’ve always believed that good design uplifts a space, but operating in this design studio before renovations, during renovations, and up to now, WOW! Does good design elevate a space?
The best way I can describe going through the selection process is amazing, emotional, and efficient. Imagine you have access to one thousand items for every single decision, but someone listens intently and does you the good service of narrowing that endless road of decisions to 2-3 choices for each line item.
This is what furniture sourcing is like with the c2s team. For the first time, I have felt like I have a deeper understanding of what our clients go through.
As a result of going on this journey, I was given the gift of refining the process of how tile selections work at Mercury Mosaics.
Whether you’re joining us online and using our website, making an in-person appointment, or working with us virtually, we’re more committed today than ever to ensuring you feel close to how I felt going through this process with c2s.
Once I was armed with a floor plan that made sense, formed partnerships to forge a path forward, and had a clear sense of selections, we finalized renderings to complete the cosmetic finishes.
Our dear industry partner William Dohman of Dohmicile was the rendering wizard behind illustrating the details so we could intentionally pull this whole production together. We couldn’t be more proud of the finished masterpiece.
I came out on the other side of this, respecting the trades more deeply, humbled by the brand Mercury Mosaics has become, and inspired by the layers of challenges my team has navigated through the process. For us, 2022 was the most challenging of these 21 years.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour. You don’t have to build everything you want today, just lay a brick.” ~James Clear
This quote resonates and is a good metaphor for building a space to a specific vision with every single challenge you can think of showing up. That’s where slow, steady focus comes into play, and that is why you can’t always rush great design.
We’ve curated a page filled with all the brand partner details to show one of our core values come to life: “Make Something Together Working in Harmony.” Enjoy.
One more quote for the road, because I own it, I’m a quote queen, and they give me life!
“Don’t give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~Author Unknown