"So why the heck were you guys closed for a while?"
First or all, for those who asked us this exact question, we love you.
We SO appreciate you - for asking all the "what the hecks" and the "why the hecks" without holding back.
For those who didn't know we were closed and now happen to know about us - we love you too.
Whichever you are, you decided to read this re-opening statement (or considered it... if you scroll down and reconsider there's no judgement. It's LENGTHY), and for that we are grateful.
But yes, we wanted to make sure people knew, especially the wonderful community that supported us ever since we set foot to this beautiful town of Malvern, PA. There are times in our lives when we find ourselves continually pivoting and pivoting and pivoting... 'til we start to question ourselves and begin wondering, "Is this really the right path?"
And this isn't (and wasn't) just about the year 2020. It was definitely one of those times where we had to stop and ask, after seeing countless people suffering and struggling - "is this really the right thing to do?"
My co-founder Steve and I lead a life where our sole purpose and passion is to help others as much as we can, no matter what. Our business - Project Cloudless - was built with this purpose in mind and has become so much more than a business to us. It is our life's work.
It started 12 years ago as a bedtime story for my daughter: a place where she could immerse herself in an epic adventure and tell her own story.
The concept grew over the years, spreading to her friends, and as they joined in the story soon, parents and teachers reached out to take part as well. Over time, the audience for this story grew and grew, and eventually, we made the decision to make it more than just a hobby.
We’d always known how powerful entertainment could be, especially storytelling.
It brings families, friends, and strangers together.
It brings generations together.
It brings hope and strength because it makes us realize how wonderful and powerful our imagination can be - and how it can be used to help so many in need.
And we were committed to bringing that hope and strength to the world.
Resilience. One of the key ‘skills’ for those who love to imagine, simulate, and implement. A crucial skill that we believe the world we're building can promote. Resilience gives you the confidence to keep standing back up no matter how difficult life gets. To not be defeated. To bounce back even stronger.
Last year we were climbing toward the first peek of our business. Projects were about to happen. Agreements ready to be signed.
Then March came.
Within 48 hours, everything was blank.
We were left with pages.. books worth of ideas. Plans, just ready to launch. All scrapped.
The 1st week passed by, and we both lost our full-time jobs.
We didn’t lose hope. We scratched everything out, grabbed our tablets, connected to zoom, and started virtual experiences - especially for children at home. To keep them imagining - to keep their creativity alive.
A few months later, I lost a house.
Steve and I sat down to talk about the next steps.
The answer was simple - for now, no matter what, Cloudless was needed. We would keep giving to the community to help others get through this difficult time.
We still had some savings, and Steve had a job opportunity in Pennsylvania.
So we packed whatever we could in a small moving truck, and with two kids, two dogs, and two cats, we drove across the country with hope.
When we arrived, we found two amazing things:
1. A small storefront in Malvern PA, where we could build our dream
2. A beautifully amazing community that welcomed us immediately and treated us like family
But these things also happened:
3. A job offer fell through
4. Unemployment (EDD) California deemed us both “fraudulent” and stopped payment without a chance to fight back. I submitted everything - passport, drivers license, green card... but the appeal has been processing for over 5 months now
In only a month, we were back to square one, but in a new place. Our savings quickly disappeared while our store miraculously started growing, but it simply couldn't grow fast enough to carry us. It was never meant to. We decided we had to close it down to save money until we could find a way to support it again. We worked contract jobs and did whatever we could to keep money coming in.
Long story short, after 50+ job applications and many pivots, projects, side jobs, and painful phone calls to survive week to week, we came to today - to make that
A) Let go of our store with nearly 5000 unique website visitors, increasing online experience bookings (which we have been offering as “pay as you wish” to make our stories available to anyone in need), and future team building events inquiries... simply because we don't have any more savings to carry us until the business can
or B) Give this store, this story, this experience one last chance by asking for your help. Asking you to lend us a hand, to help us nurture what has never truly been given a chance to grow?
We talked to family and friends about whether or not this GoFundMe sounded like a “needy move” or a “selfish act” on our end.
We readied ourselves of those very statements...
But instead, we received messages.
Texts and emails asking why our store has been closed. Wondering when we will be re-opening. Countless stories and comments on how much fun they had, after experiencing our sessions and community events...
Steve and I talked and talked, going back and forth - and today, we finally decided we just can't do it ourselves. We need your help to grow our small, family business that strives to bring stories, epic adventures, and - ultimately - HOPE back to our communities. A place to bring generations together. A place where people can find THEIR story and tell it along with us.
So we set up a Go Fund Me. In hopes of reopening the store again.
And we received the love.
Through out all this, there was ONE THING that always kept us in line.
Imagination, Creativity, YOU, and a good darn cups and cups of tea to stay awake.
So we're bringing all this to you.
Come pick up the micro-chapters of a whole new season of ISOLDE - The End of The Beginning. Enjoy the curated tea that matches the excitement, the suspence, the tragedy, inside the story of the month.
We will keep on writing.
We will keep the story going.
We will keep giving our everything to those in need - no matter what kind of hardships we are in.
We will be infinitely grateful to you, and will consider you a part of our family -
May all great stories come your way.
- Sara and Steve