Xack Fischer, co-founder at rainworks tells us about rain-activated street art and how they work together to make rainy days more fun.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Xack Fischer: I’m happy to say that my family and I have remained safe and healthy throughout this past year, and all things considered, we are doing pretty well. Thanks for asking!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded rainworks.
Xack Fischer: Okay, well, I am the co-founder of Rainworks (rain-activated street art). This is a project that began when my business partner & best friend Peregrine Church came up with the idea to make art that would only appear on rainy days. By spraying a special hydrophobic formula through a stencil, we could hide secret messages underneath people’s feet, and they would have no idea until it starts raining.
We coined the term “rainwork” (a combination of rain & artwork) to describe these new pieces, and together, Peregrine and I began decorating the street of Seattle with positive messages & fun art. After we’d been making rainworks around Seattle for about a year, some friends made a video about our project. That video went viral, netting over 100 million views worldwide and catching the attention of global media. Suddenly, we had thousands of people asking us how they could make their own rainworks.
So we launched a Kickstarter campaign and successfully raised over $50k to get our business off the ground. Now we sell both stencils & the spray to create rainworks, and we’ve established a global community of creators who are working together to make rainy days more fun. It’s been so incredible to see all the creative people who have gotten involved with this project since its inception, and their ideas never cease to amaze us.
How does rainworks innovate?
Xack Fischer: Our mission is to give people a reason to smile on rainy days and empower others to do the same. Over the past few years since our project got off the ground, we’ve made some important moves forward:
· In 2015, we released our formula, Invisible Spray, making it possible for anybody to make their own rainworks.
· In 2018, we launched the official Rainworks mobile app, allowing anybody to find rainworks near them or submit the rainworks they’ve made.
· In 2020, despite the pandemic, we accomplished two of our big goals: we expanded into selling stencils — our most popular request since this project started; and we released an improved version of the formula, which is safer & better than the original.
These are some of the big steps we’ve accomplished to growing our project over the past few years, but we have a long way to go towards making this project as easy & accessible as possible for creators around the world.
Also, outside of rainworks, ultimately, we’d like our brand to expand into other forms of making the world a more magical & fun place. Here is a TED talk from our founder that sheds some light on our motivations.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Xack Fischer: As an art supply company, we depend on schools & city art projects for a large portion of our sales. As you might imagine, when the pandemic hit and schools closed, it had a pretty significant impact on our income streams as city funds were (rightfully) directed towards immediately Covid relief, and school activities were put on hiatus. If it hadn’t been for the federal assistance we received, the halting of sales would have been a deathstroke for our project and business.
However, fortunately, we got the assistance we needed to power through the hard times, and now we are on a path towards recovery as things are picking up again.
One of the things that ended up being a silver lining for us is that our project is something that can be done safely outdoors while maintaining social distancing. Since this year has been so hard for so many people, now more than ever, people can use a reason to smile, and rainworks has definitely found a new audience amongst people who are looking for fun projects they can do safely!
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Xack Fischer: Since we are a very small business (my partner Peregrine and I are the only two employees), we were lucky not to be faced with too many hard decisions regarding human resources. That said, we have learned a lot about what it takes to keep a business afloat through the hard times and how to adapt quickly to change.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Xack Fischer: Before the pandemic, we were already setup to do most of our business remotely. Most of our customer interactions were already taking place online, so the transition was easier for us than it was for some others. That said, it can be difficult to stay focused when working individually from home. One of the tools we’ve been using is Asana, which is just a task-tracking app that we’ve found helpful for organizing our to-do lists and keeping one another accountable.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Xack Fischer: Yes, we received PPP and a federal loan, and without that assistance, we would not have made it through the past year.
Your final thoughts?
Xack Fischer: This had been a crazy year, but we’re glad to be on the other side of it. Rainworks is all about making the most out of your situation — if it’s going to rain anyway, we might as well have some fun with it! It’s been really inspiring to us to see how people have made the most out of the bad situation this past year, and we’re looking forward to a bright future.