Way back in the summer of 2005, as Puppet Heap’s sole remaining employee, I was working on a puppet bulldozer that needed to be turned around in a week. At that time the shop was just a small space on the top floor and it was hot as hell. We had good start, but the work had tapered off to just this one job which would barely get me caught up in rent. To speed things along, I was cutting the pieces of the bulldozer out of post-it note yellow EVA foam on a band saw, so every surface was dusted with bright yellow powder under a furious storm of activity. This was July, the one year anniversary of the founding of the company and the point at which I had promised my family I would end it if it wasn’t profitable. As the deadline approached I became more and more unstable under the stress and isolation, babbling incoherently to myself, at times laughing for no reason. At that point, a slavering, snorting bulldog skidded into the room through the open door, defecated on the floor, and left. I was stunned. I stood there, coated in yellow powder like a huge exhausted bumble bee, staring at the steaming, stinking pile of dog shit in the middle of the floor. “Well,” it said, “you’ve done alright, kid, but it looks like the party’s over.”
If I could travel back in time nine years and talk to that sad, overwhelmed, despondent bee-me, I would wipe away his tears and tell him “Son, in nine years your company will have grown five fold. You will have clients all over the world. Talented artists will practically be begging to work here. And you’ll even be able to support your family, so hang in there.” I probably would have stabbed him with a dull matte knife and left him bleeding in the poop and yellow snow.
I‘m glad that never happened. Otherwise I would not have been around last night to raise a glass to my family and the wonderful people I work with everyday and proclaim “ten more years!” over rousing cheers and the clinking of glasses. I never expected to be in business this long and it’s all thanks to each and every person who has helped me along the way, some still present, some who have moved on. I feel so lucky to be able to come into work each day to a studio full of people I love.
Together we’ve learned a lot and really built something special. And I learned not to take shit from anyone anymore.
Oh yeah, and cheers to Frida and Iggy, proprietors of Panello. The food, the atmosphere, your patience--there are no words! Thank you! We had a wonderful time!