We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Kohout and Sara Diederich and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa and Sara, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
MELISSA: Generally I am not a wing it girl, I like to have my plan of action in place on a day to day basis. I do this so I can better know what I am getting myself into. This also means that when I do take a risk, it has been planned out to the best of my ability. Sure the outcome is not guaranteed, otherwise it would not be a risk, but all the potential outcomes have been weighed and thought through. For me personally, I never like having unanswered “What If’s” especially when it comes to my career. My happiness is one of the largest factors I consider when taking a risk in my career. What if I don’t try this, will I regret it? That was the question I asked myself when leaving my secure full time job to start a new business, Jackalope Arts, back in 2014. I do believe that without risk there is no reward, this is especially true in entrepreneurship. You can’t haphazardly take a risk in your career, when you commit you have to commit fully. Give it the best of your ability, because you do not want to walk away thinking you did not give it all that you had to succeed. SARA: I tend to more often take risks on big life events, especially when it comes to trusting myself. There’s a huge difference between betting on yourself and risking alot in the process and walking through the world flippantly risking things here and there. I think it’s important to realize what’s at stake before you take a risk, think about your willingness to lose it all, and then of course, what factors are outside of your control. Equally important is to think about the result of not taking the risk. Sometimes avoiding a risk can come with its own set of issues to deal with, which must be a part of your final decision too. True entrepreneurship is all about risk taking. When we first started Jackalope Arts in 2014, we could have started it as a side-gig, with a little effort put in here and there on weekends and free time. But, I knew that if I did that the business wouldn’t grow to its fullest potential. Instead, the dream of making this business happen required a complete shift in focus, and a huge dip into my personal savings. Six years later, we’re still in business and while 2020 has thrown us a number of curve balls, we’re still here to swing at them.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets Jackalope Arts apart from other large scale events is that it it just the two of us, Sara & Melissa. We do not have a huge team working the magic behind the scenes. We wear many different hats from PR & social media, to graphic design, bookkeeping, and the overall execution of the events we host. With that comes challenges. However, it brings a personal touch to our events. The artisans who participate get to know us, and we also get to know both them and our shoppers. We love that we have in a sense, created a Jackalope family. We pride ourselves on building relationships with our community. We want them to succeed, and our passion is what drives us. Both of us come from an events background, from Sara’s work with the local music scene, to Melissa’s background in event rentals, and then to producing art focused events where we met. We are both incredibly Type A, which is important when it comes to planning large scale festivals! I think our communication is also something that helped us to succeed. Communication with not only each other as business partners, but also to our artists who make our business. Starting your own business is always challenging. However, we have always tried to think one step ahead. By doing this we are prepared for any sort of obstacle that may arise. Failure was not an option so we best make it work! Along the way we have learned lessons about many facets of business. We have learned some event-specific lessons, ie. when you rent a 3-compartment sink that does not mean it comes with water (very important to note!) and lessons that carry over into everything we do. It’s important to ask questions and understand the full capacity of what you’re getting yourself into. We want everyone to know how important it is to shop small and buy local when you can. How you spend your money should mean something, and when you spend it on the little guy it goes so much further. We work so hard to curate and produce a high quality fair with the best in handmade. When we say there is something for everyone, we mean it! It is amazing to see how innovative people are: from kids products and dog clothing, to body care products, food, home goods, fashion and more. Being able to deliver that personal connection is so important to us and what makes us a true community meets artisan event.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Melissa: Favorite Spots in LA- Griffith Park and Observatory, I could stare at the architecture and views all day! I also love Mignon in Downtown LA, a quaint wine bar that makes you feel like you are in France! Sara: For food, a staple for me is Hot Pot Hot Pot in Monterey Park. It’s a blast to share a meal there with friends. I also love to head up to the rotating restaurant atop The Bonaventure in DTLA for a Tom Collins.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’d like to shoutout to Old Pasadena Management District. They were so supportive of us when we were building our very first event and had faith in abilities to pull it off. That gave us the confidence to push ourselves further and continue to build our brand into other markets.
Gil Riego Jr Photography Keith Berson (night crowd) KT Langley Photography (indoor shopping)