photos by Lesley Unruh
Their handcrafted wares were never meant to be the launch of a business. But when Ry Scruggs and Nadia Yaron took their goods to the Brooklyn Flea, Nightwood was born. The two now collaborate on a variety of handcrafted goods, both commissioned and otherwise, made from sustainable, salvaged and reclaimed items found around their Brooklyn base. Today they share about their journey into business owning and the lessons they learned along the way. —Stephanie
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Why did you decide to start your own business?
When we first started we never really set out to start a business. We simply liked making things and always wanted to have a booth at a flea market. So when we heard the Brooklyn Flea was starting we thought it would be fun to sell our wares there. We never thought it would take off as quickly as it did.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
After we realized we might actually have something worth pursuing, we still never made a full business plan about where we were going to take Nightwood. We talked about what we wanted to do with Nightwood and projects we would like to take on in the future, but it was never something we got stuck on. We basically just said “yes” to any opportunities that arose and in turn that’s how we really learned what we know now. There was a lot of trial and error and just going with the flow of whatever came our way.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Honestly, we never really listened to business advice and weren’t given much, so even if it did come our way we didn’t take it in. Sometimes we get good business advice from Jeff Lewis on his reality show Flipping Out :)
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
Not knowing what we were doing business-wise! We really were just trying to figure everything out the best we could as it came and that can be very stressful!
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Trust your instincts always and take risks when it feels right. We’ve had a few instances when we knew from the start it was a bad idea, but we kept with it anyway and they usually ended very badly.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
We wouldn’t say there are any failures as much as just lessons learned. We’ve had a million lessons learned and they’ve all taught us something valuable.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
Every time we get a returning customer we feel like we succeed.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
We don’t think either of us has ever read a book on anything business related. So we don’t have any recommendations here.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. If they are starting their business with a partner, friend, co-worker, whomever… they should really think long and hard about how they relate to each other and if they can trust that person. When we first started we weren’t prepared to spend every minute of our days together, plus also navigating through a business and handling the stresses of a business together. You have to have a strong bond with this person and be able to communicate openly with them.
2. We don’t have a baby but we imagine that starting a business is like having a baby. It takes up most of your time and energy but once you have it you can’t imagine life without it. Be ready to spend most of your time and energy on your business.
3. Stay true to yourself. It’s good to look at other businesses and gather information on how to run your business however you may, but it’s also important to run your business like you. Your creative business is a direct reflection of you and your personal work, try to keep it that way. We find it disappointing when we see an emerging business with an original voice start to turn generic because they feel they need to in order to get more business and relate to the masses. We have enough generic and mediocre things in this world. If you have an original view point stay true to it and people will respond to your honesty.