We hit our goal! Thank you!
Thanks to our 200+ backers, last night we surpassed our goal of reaching $25,000! Thanks to you, Stories can become the place we've dreamed it will be, the place we glimpsed on our sneak peek--a home for storytellers of all ages, a space of inspiration and delight for a generation of Brooklyn kids. Thank you!
We've added a couple stretch goals and some exciting new rewards, since our campaign doesn't end till Thursday night. See below in our Rewards section for the full story!
Who we are
Hello! We are Matt Miller and Maggie Pouncey, and together we’re making Stories, a bookshop and storytelling lab in Brooklyn, NY.
We believe stories can change the world: stories ignite a child’s limitless imagination, innate curiosity, and passion for learning. Many studies show this, but you can sense it intuitively when you read a great story with your kid, or think back to the feeling of being read to when you were small. We believe growing up in a world of books can make all the difference, and that storytelling is a vital art, one that in our digitally-saturated age, deserves and demands preservation.
A Home for Stories
Our Bergen Street shop will carry a beautiful collection of children’s literature for ages zero through young adult, with a section for parents, too, as well as rare, out-of-print, and vintage finds, and framed bookish art. We will also sell the perfect pencils, notebooks, stationery, art supplies, and other necessary tools for budding storytellers.
For the Stories community beyond our Brooklyn shop, we plan to launch Perfect Stories, our book-of-the-month club: Sign up, and each month, we will send you a hand-picked Stories favorite picture book, middle-grade, or YA book (you decide which!) paired with our signature Story Starter games and prompts right to your mailbox (wherever that may be!).
458 Bergen Street, the soon-to-be Stories HQ, sits at the nexus of the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Boerum Hill. A stone's throw from the bustle of the Barclays Center, it's a quintessential tree-lined Brooklyn block, with many thriving small businesses we are delighted to call neighbors, including Pintchik Hardware (also our landlord!), Gorilla Coffee, Ride Brooklyn, A. Cheng, Wild Was Mama, Babeland, Sun in Bloom, and V Curated.
The Storytelling Lab
Sharing 458 Bergen with our bookshop, our Storytelling Lab will be a home for storytellers age 5-13. The lab will provide extracurricular activities for young readers, writers, and artists. Like most writers, Maggie has spent a lot of her adult life in writing workshops — both as a student and a teacher — and with her programming team will work to reimagine that intense, creative and collaborative space for younger kids. Our goal is to host a range of programs, including:
- Genre-based creative writing workshops (Micro Stories! Comic Stories!).
- Bookmaking and illustrating classes for younger writers.
- Master classes taught by well-known authors focusing on some aspect of craft.
- Drop-in sessions where kids can bring their latest project for feedback or play a clever assortment of writing games.
- Birthday parties where kids produce a book with their friends—and eat cake!
- School break and summer camps filled with writing games and exercises that will culminate in a literary journal campers design and create together.
All the labs will be taught and facilitated by real life working writers. Some of these writers will be close friends, and fellow parents; all will be authors and artists whose work we love.
Our Project Timeline
We are so excited to share the world of Stories, but we can’t do it on our own. We've written our business plan, signed our lease, hired our first employee, and begun construction. Our goal is to open in some way, shape, or form, by April 30—Independent Bookstore Day. We may not have shelves quite yet, but we will have Stories to tell! Our backers will follow along as we work hard to make it all happen (also watch the behind-the-scenes drama unfold on Instagram — @storiesbk).
To bring our plans to life, we are asking our friends, family, neighbors and the Kickstarter community to help us chip away at the start-up costs of opening Stories. We have invested as much of our personal savings as we can muster, and have been approved for a small business loan, but there's still a gap between that and our opening costs and early operating expenses. Here’s a brief breakdown of what we can achieve with your support:
- Further develop the look of Stories, as well as our website, with Partner & Partners.
- Finalize work with our architects from LAMAS, who have designed the Stories space at 458 Bergen Street in Brooklyn.
- Complete the buildout of the space with Beckman Studio Design Build, our general contractor.
- Install our beautiful custom bookshelves – designed by LAMAS and built by MPD Design Build – the bones of the space, carrying our favorite books for kids of all ages.
- Order our opening inventory, pay the rent, turn on the lights and hire our teachers and booksellers!
For our last 36 hours, we've added a few stretch goals:
- For every additional $1000 we raise above our $25,000 goal, we will offer a scholarship to a child who otherwise couldn't afford a writing workshop in our Storytelling Lab.
- If we reach $28,000 we will unlock two brand new rewards: To every backer who pledges $35 or more (including our current backers and those who increase their pledge), we will send a digital copy of our inaugural Stories from the Storytelling Lab -- a literary journal of work produced by kids in our first seasons of workshops and classes. And for anyone who has pledged $500 or more, we will send you a hard copy of this beautiful document. These new rewards will be automatically included if we hit $28,000!
To thank you for helping us build a foundation for Stories, we’ve assembled a variety of objects and experiences we hope will contribute to your lives as storytellers, from custom notebooks and totes to one-on-one writing sessions for children with renowned writers. (These images are previews! Absolute final designs may vary some.)
We worked with the geniuses of Partner & Partners to bring the spirit of Stories to life with this sly and adorable cast of characters. T-shirts available in kids' and adult sizes, as well as a onesie option.
The below tote might be our favorite bag ever.
One of the most serendipitous discoveries of building Stories thus far came in the form of our bookmark printer, Nick Hurd, of Wasp Poster and Print, the grandson of legendary illustrator Clement Hurd. In his Bushwick studio, Nick is at work designing a limited edition letterpress poster just for Stories, using never-before-seen art by his famous grandpa!
We are lucky to call many of our most favorite writers friends, and over the moon to be offering one-on-one writing consultations for young writers with several of them as rewards to our backers.
We love book art, and have framed a collection of vintage children's book covers, like this iconic To Kill a Mockingbird cover. So excited to sell these in the shop, and offer them to our backers.
Stories is a small family business founded, owned and operated by husband and wife team Matt Miller and Maggie Pouncey.
Maggie Pouncey is the author of the novel Perfect Reader (Pantheon, 2010). Her work has appeared in Fence, The New York Times Book Review and other places. A teaching artist for over a decade, she has taught writing workshops in many contexts, from poetry workshops for second and third graders in Long Island, to essay writing for inmates at a medium security prison through the Bard Prison Initiative. She has taught high schoolers in all genres of creative writing through Columbia’s summer program and the non-profit Girls Write Now, where she served as the volunteer Curriculum Director, and has taught undergraduates at Columbia University and Barnard College. Maggie received her BA and MFA from Columbia.
Matt Miller comes to Stories as a veteran technology entrepreneur and manager. He has worked in New York technology companies for more than 15 years, with experience in both start-ups and well-established firms. Most recently, Matt served as CTO of Amplify Insight, an education technology company, where he led development of several industry-leading literacy and math products, reaching millions of students in all 50 states. Matt holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science from Columbia University.
Together we are the parents of two small boys. As founders and parents we believe that a love of stories and storytelling is one of the surest lifelong gifts you can give your children.
Risks and challenges
We aim to build Stories into a sustainable family business and a neighborhood institution. Of course, there are a number of risks and challenges we face in opening a brick-and-mortar children's bookshop and storytelling lab. Some of our main challenges are:
Opening costs - We've spent countless hours of research building our business plan and start-up budget for Stories. Now partway through renovation of our space, we appear to be tracking closely to that budget. That said, surprises happen, especially in New York City construction projects.
Controlling ongoing expenses - We are seeking to control costs at every step of the way while still building a sweet and welcoming environment for our customers. Still, a number of ongoing operational costs may vary as we move forward. We've built some tolerance for this into our business plan, but again, there can always be surprises!
Achieving sustainable revenues - Meeting projected sales goals can be a challenge for any business, and Stories is no exception. Our success hinges on our ability to attract and retain customers. Yet (shocker alert!) bookselling is not typically a high margin business, and it may take us a little while to get our sea legs.
Every extra dollar we raise above our goal helps to insure that we can cover unexpected expenses as we achieve sustainable revenues.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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