In the mid-eighties, at a much younger age, I started a clothing business. It was founded on the premise that I had the gumption, desire, and spirit to start one. In fact, it had been a dream for some time. The fact that I failed was a loss, but not a great one because what I gained helped me become stronger and less vulnerable. Few people, except my family, know this story.
One late summer day...
after weeks of designing several all-white gowns, blouses, and camisoles, I headed to Seattle, Washington from Ashland, Oregon, suitcase in tow in a business suit and heels and walked to the offices of Westminster Lace and landed a sizeable order. Never mind that I was the only seamstress sewing the order, living newly divorced in a small apartment with my three young children. Or that my father in the midst of my huge agenda became seriously ill and nearly died. It was a turbulent time but also one that was illuminating.
Fast forward to now...
over thirty years later. Still sewing and creating and collecting and redoing, there isn’t much I have not attempted to try. I collect ideas, ways to stay creative, keep moving, learning, and, above all, keep trying.
Certainly it would be working with my hands, refining my vision, challenging myself to keep evolving so each day is spent doing something I love and hopefully growing deeper within each year.
I have never hired anyone to paint or wallpaper or sew curtains or clean my house. Perhaps I am compulsively domestic. I crave color and pattern. I am always in search of old textiles: linen, lace, cottons and silks as well as quilts, buttons, and trims. I have hardly ever bought anything new, save a sofa, bed, or some clothing and shoes.
Now I am a Stockist for Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan in order to create, teach, and learn. And to my surprise, one of my favorite parts of the business has been the gift of meeting so many incredible women who are talented, resourceful, and inspiring. This includes, not only the customers who come into my shop, but also the Annie Sloan Unfolded Company of people who are supportive, connected, talented, and professional.
And so what is it that gives me the drive and energy and excitement to do this retail business at a later stage of life? The rent goes up, I run out of Old White before a weekend, or I find dark wax on a favorite blouse. All these things pale in comparison to the experience of having someone send me a thank you for a workshop that they loved or a photograph of a beautifully painted table. Perhaps someone walks in the door of my shop and loves the ambiance. This all reveals a feeling of generosity, an exchange of sharing, a connection to a mutual love of color, design, and beauty. Where in the world could anyone find this kind of interchange? Some customers return and some disappear, but it all translates into a meaningful form, and justifies a reason to put my keys in the door of my shop each morning, turn the sign from closed to open, and know that there just might be an unexpected surprise and, quite frankly, there usually is.
I sell paint and wax and techniques, textiles, furniture, home decor, and gifts and vintage finds. Enter a world of your own making and I will find a little of my own world there too.