Help save Clockwork Couture!
Clockwork Couture is the little steampunk emporium that could. It began small and grew magnificently into a gorgeous space that has become a "splendid hub for L.A.'s geek community." Along with providing a beautiful shopping experience and a store stocked with every item a steam fan could want, she has also hosted craft faires, artist signings, kitten adoptions, game nights and so much more.
Suddenly today the owner was faced with the reality that in the next 24 hours she may have to shutter the store for good. This humble campaign is simply to allow her the time to keep her doors open for another month stress free so that she is able to better plan her transition to another space, or to simply moving to an online only format.
Donna means the world to so many of us. Please help if you can!
Everyone, thank you. Thank you for sharing, for donating, for caring, for coming out to support this wonderful person and business. What you have helped raise with this campaign has given Donna peace of mind, allowed her to take care of the basics, formulate a game plan, and move forward with with her head held high.
Clockwork Couture as some of you know it is closing, but the online store will remain. Items have been moved upstairs and a small showroom has been established for wardrobe stylists and custom wedding/corset customers. To maintain the location Donna will be starting a themed tea house in the main space! This should prove to be a far more sustainable long-term venture, as tea houses in Los Angeles are forever a go-to, and this one can grow and shift with the ever-changing tide of fandoms, rather than relying on one particular theme or interest.
Again, thank you to everyone. For Donna, on her new venture: Allons-y!
"Thank you to everyone who has shared tears, memories and dare I say, your donations. It's been overwhelmingly kind and if you are a personal friend, you know I haven't liked attention being on myself in a very long time. I prefer it to be on my accomplishments if anything, and this is a great big "Hey! Look how bad Donna FAILED! Let's help!" and that's very hard to deal with.
Finally, I feel you all deserve the real truth of it all and I'll attempt to make this short(ish). We grew from my garage and my only $500 from selling my modeling agency, Wicked Talent.
Live Journals steampunk community helped out, along with Evelyn Kriete to put me in a direction to provide clothing for people who didn't want to make their own, and soon, I was packing orders after I put my 2 year old to bed, staying up til 2am to make sure they went out in the post the next day.
Our reputation grew, and a photoshoot later, I had to hire an employee. Then two. People asked us to pick items up instead of shipping or coming in to try things on. So I had to turn the only place I had, into a small showroom; my front house.
It was adorable and sweet and I loved rolling out of bed and walking 60ft to work. We started to rescue animals there but we needed to get out of the house. First of all, it was illegal, and secondly, it was too small. We had to hire a bookkeeper since I'm not savvy with numbers, and whenever I would ask how things were, I got a thumbs up.
We did a small kickstarter to get the money to pay first and last, security deposit and some buckets of paint to make the place pretty. We were really doing better than we thought, with people wanting to see the world's first brick and mortar steampunk shoppe in a larger format. Our bookeeper decided to leave the CPA she worked for and do something else, so we had to hire a different bookkeeper. Now, we needed 3 employees in addition and we were doing tv shows, web series, and allowing people to use our upstairs for free as long as they supported arts, education or entertainment. We had also rescued a horse, 2 dogs, and 100 cats by this point.
Our new bookkeeper asked for documents I didn't have or even know what they were, and we found out they had never been filed. Worse yet, now they were very late and with hefty fines. We filed immediately, explaining our situation and that there was no intent to not care for our responsibilities, we were just told everything was okay when the inconsistent previous bookkeeper would bother to work. Our $25k responsibility was now over $75k and worst yet, we didn't have it. They threatened to take the keys and liquidate everything inside, and then my house.
We made payment plans with the BOE, and started the very long, drawn-out process of dealing with the IRS. We were now in our 3rd year at this location and other steampunk clothiers sent their previously made American goods, overseas for a higher profit and lesser quality. Meanwhile, we committed to only selling fairly made items, and sales fell. Still, we were okay. Hours were cut, I didn't cash my own paychecks in lieu of giving my employees theirs, since two of them were making the only income for their families and children.
Sales dipped further. I had now gone 2 months without cashing a paycheck, and my husband was in his 2nd year of being unemployed and helping me around the shop as often as he could while applying for work. Our mortgage was late. We rescued a dog who needed more than 2k in vet bills, 1k of which was donated by generous customers, but it was still quite a blow.
Belts were tightened further, more animals came in sick, fewer sales came in to help with that. We were denied a home equity loan since we hadn't that much in it, and our rent check bounced at the store's location. Twice. Thursday evening, I had to admit defeat and call it quits. A friend advised me to stop trying to bail out the Titanic with a dixie cup, and she's right. It hasn't been working for awhile. I love this place, the customers who have become honest to goodness friends, and the supportive community around us, but I can't continue this way.
You all saved her for now. Life boats are out and I paid May's rent, can cash 1 month of back-owed paychecks so I can start getting caught up on my mortgage before my house goes into foreclosure, and begin to figure out the next step of my life. I can't afford NOT to work. And I don't want to be part of anything that just resells imported junk made to fall apart. I want to support my own community and help other artists and animals alike in getting on their way to happiness and healthy lives.
So what I'm saying is, things are going to change. I will be asking for even more help and I wish I didn't have to. I cannot use any money Clockwork has received on a new venture (IRS rules) unless I want that new venture to take on the responsibilities of taxes that Clockwork still needs to chip away at (I don't want that). So I'll need to call to my friends once more to help. Small goals, attainable dreams and most of all, doing what I love.
Because dammit, if this is the end, if I can't help others anymore, then I will go down in the brightest flames you've ever seen and the Captain stays with her ship. -Donna"
Things are very much in flux, and the ultimate fate of the store is still uncertain, but in the meantime, here is a message from Donna of Clockwork Couture:
"Big update: Okay, so everyone is wondering when we are closing and the fact is, I don't know. We didn't have the money for May's rent until Saturday night. My final deadline was Saturday before noon. I was just able to send it via quick pay this morning to our landlord and I don't yet know if he will accept it. That means, he could show up in 5 minutes and demand the keys, or he could be cool and we definitely have the place until June to figure out how to keep Clockwork in an online format, continue animal rescue, and do another retail shop that would be more financially advantageous (i.e., I actually cash a paycheck). I realize that's vague, and I'm sorry for that, but it's all I know. I'm just taking it day by day at this point and hoping for the best. Good wishes are accepted with our deepest gratitude. And thank you to everyone who came out this weekend to make sure they could see the shop in all her glory one, possibly last time. Thank to you to all the people who helped us out, I don't want to name you in case you've been dodging family who has been asking for money, but it was really kind of you and I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with those emotions. -Donna"
Sean Makiney - What a painfully tactless way to air grievances. The comments of love and support left on Donna's facebook and those accompanying the donations should make it clear how much she gave back to the community and how dearly we care for her. Whatever may have transpired between you, this is not the time or place.
Mr. Makiney, the prime reason for the outrage directed at you is not what you said. you're entitled to your opinion an goodness knows there is room for diversity in the world of Steampunk. My personal reasons for wanting to rain hell down upon you is that you chose to come here, where we are trying to help save an important part of Our Steampunk, and piss on Captain Donna. And by extension, the rest of us trying to help her. This is not the venue for that. If you want to be a 'scratch my back first' kinda guy, do it on your own page. People come there to know what you think, they've friended you because they have views and interests similar to yours. Doing it here, and being the first to comment as you did so, well you come across as a muctache-twirler in the a class with Snidely Whiplash. Just sayin'.
Ok... I will make one statement and that is all. I said nothing that was untrue about my interaction with the owner. I don't want to see her establishment close because it is a loss for everyone. Her opinions and choices for not supporting some areas of the community are and always will be her choice. I was simply stating an opinion that I could not support her for in fairness her decision to not support my company. I may be a dickhead, jack hole, or more in your eyes. That's your opinion and is honorable to defend your friends or a business you love. But with all things there are more facets to a story or interaction, that without investigation or questions asked, can cause a one sided opinion and loss of facts. I appologise if this has hurt anyone or the owner for my comments.
Sorry, can't donate. Donna... you probably should have been nicer to this magazine publisher. I hate to see any Steampunk establishment hurt or go out of business. Maybe if you supported the community more you would not be in this situation.