Meet Maxx Follis-Goodkind, the owner of Push/Pull in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, and a proudly disabled business owner. Maxx opened Push/Pull’s original location in 2013 and settled into her Ballard location a year ago. Push/Pull is an art gallery, underground comic shop, event space, and more all rolled into one. As a gallery artist, zinester, and screen printer, Maxx decided to create a place where creatives in her community could be supported in all their artistic endeavors.
Bonus: Push/Pull offers a teen art summer program and fall after school program for free.
Get to know more about Maxx and Push/Pull in this Business Spotlight Q&A.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in & why?
My favorite thing about my business is definitely the community! Everyone we interact with is supporting creative people and local arts or being creative themselves — or both. Our job is to help people express themselves, to feel seen and heard. The delight that people have when they discover us never gets old. When those people are local, we get to know them and build relationships. When people are visiting the area, they are often marveled that a place like Push/Pull exists. I think our location in Ballard is perfectly positioned to keep us busy enough to stick around but not so busy that we can’t foster those relationships with our visitors.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
We live in the strange, so nothing ever really feels ‘weird’ to us. We have the trim on one wall decorated in rhinestones, a bathroom full of cat paintings, and give every customer a free item out of our prize basket — currently featuring dinosaur skeleton toys and lifelike plastic maggots. For us, the strange part is that we have been able to set that goofy side apart and take real business risks. One year ago, we were struggling to survive and instead of giving up, my spouse — also my business partner — and I put all of the financial backing we could come up with into moving locations and taking over the neighborhood art supply business.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Most people don’t realize that we aren’t a business owned by one person with a lot of financial backing. We’re a cooperative business. After a year, employees become partners and own a portion of the business. Everyone makes the same hourly wage. We recognize that we can’t exist without all of the pieces of the business, no one person is more or less valuable because they’re all necessary.