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CERF+ Grant and Planning for the Worst

Last year I had the opportunity to apply for a CERF+ Grant and was fortunate enough to receive some funding from them. If you haven't heard of them before, CERF+ is a non-profit that helps craft artists prepare and respond to emergencies, protecting our livelihoods and helping make it possible to keep going with our art after a crisis. They also have resources for craft artists who are trying to be proactive; their Get Ready Grants provide support ahead of possible emergencies. Craft artists are asked to self-evaluate their business and determine what possible gaps there are and come up with a plan to address them. You can learn more about CERF+ at this clickable link.

For me, the gaps in my business were obvious. In 2022, a single loose nail in our roof was raised up by maybe an inch and caused catastrophic leaking and damage about 10 feet away from the room where I have my studio and all of my inventory. The leak infiltrated all of the material behind the wall and eventually we noticed it because the wall and ceiling started showing signs of discoloration. What looked like a small spot was actually a huge amount of damage behind the wall that needed extensive replacement and repair. One company was hired for the demolition and another was hired for restoring the wall. It took weeks of work for the repairs to be fully completed. I was fortunate that the leak did not occur closer to my studio because my inventory (textile-based, made from fabric, yarn, etc.) will completely absorb moisture, mold and odor. Just 10 feet of space separated the damage from where I stored my inventory. I would have lost thousands of dollars of inventory because I had been carelessly storing my inventory in a variety of unsealable (thus open) plastic bags, cardboard boxes, etc.

Reflecting on what would have happened was a really scary process; not only would my inventory be gone but any upcoming events that I had would have to be cancelled. In the case of participating in an upscale craft show, I could have lost out on hundreds of dollars of booth fees because these are often not refundable for any reason. My work is also seasonal; most of my events are in the summer and winter so missing events can be financially detrimental because there may be months before the next one. Alternatively, if I had pieces that I had set aside for juried gallery shows, there would have been an embarrassing call to the gallery explaining that my pieces were damaged and I couldn't fulfill my commitment to have that piece available for the show. As with any business, reputation is important.

All of this was incredible motivation for solving my problem of inventory storage. We as textile/fiber artists have been told a lot of varying information on how to store inventory. There is always a concern of moisture and possible insect damage. We are also told that our textiles need to "breathe" and sometimes long-term storage in plastic bins is not recommended. In this case though, after looking at what happened in my home due to a small leak, and taking into account the climate I live in (rainy, Pacific Northwest) I don't think I can justify not storing my inventory in weather-proof containers. I ended up researching various sizes of large plastic bins. Key features I wanted were locking lids and I wanted the "seam" of the lid to be covered so that water falling down would just roll off. The bins on the left are great for keeping off dust but not fully waterproof. Water will find a way! I added some arrows to the spots in the lid that are not fully waterproof. The bins on the right are what I chose; the open edge is completely encapsulated by the lid. These are 95 gallon size and I also bought a set of the smaller size to store smaller items. Lastly, I bought small moisture absorbing packets just like what you find in a shoebox when you buy a new pair or shoes or at the bottom of a new purse.

I'll put the links to what I purchased below. Thank you to CERF+ for assisting me with this task and helping me safeguard my inventory!

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