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Ten Years, Five Lessons

Celebrating ten years means we’re coming out of the dark. We’ve discovered much about who we are in the course of a decade. What started out as an experiment in Ann Arbor in 2004 has evolved into a dedicated operation in Detroit. Ten years ago, we had things backwards. We started with a generous storefront that housed a shop, studio, and sales floor. It was a wonderful laboratory but not sensible for genuine growth. Over time, the sales floor graduated to a virtual space, the studio was wherever the two of us where, and the shop physically endured for obvious reasons. Strip down to the bare essentials – lesson one.

We also evolved personally. I was torn between getting dirty in the shop and moving things along in the studio. Andre was torn between managing the shop and tempting potential buyers on the sales floor. With time, we refined our roles as we filtered our operation. Focus on what you are good at – lesson two.  Throughout this transformation, we took a consistent position - we consciously chose to hide. We were convinced that it wasn’t about us, it was about the work. Now we recognize that it’s about both. Get up there with the work – lesson three. In breaking out of our shell, we finally realized something that was profound. We are not a manufacturing facility - we are a design studio and workshop. Ali Sandifer is the union of two designers who hold craft in an esteemed position - a position that enables us to design meaningful work with honesty. That is the type of practice that we want to grow. Know who you are and where you want to be – lesson four.

Our final lesson is embodied in this blog and throughout this website. From conception to reality, there are so many moments in between. That history is a part of the work we do.  Share a complete story – lesson five. We humbly present ourselves and our work to you and we hope that you, in turn, will share the story of Ali Sandifer with others.