Telling the “why” behind what I do…

M and Mom  cheek kissAugust 2014 will always be sweet in my memory.  This is my moma….who I swear has NEVER answered the phone when I called without a smile to her voice, and who – as I have been doing some soul-searching this past week – is a huge part of my story of “why”  I do what I do.  Simply stated – she has inspired me over the years, not so much by what she has said,  but rather by what she has exampled before me.Dad's b'day #3I just celebrated my 57th birthday two days ago.  And if you know me at all, you understand that I am a processor….I think (and speak) out loud a lot of the time when I should be quiet and ponder before opening my mouth.  But in the end, if you know me, you understand. That’s just the way God wired me.  And it takes a lot of grace to love me!

For my birthday, my HubE gave me a book that has been on my wish list for some time now… and in the first pages of the book, the author asks the question, “What’s your story?  What’s your why?  How did you come up with the idea for your business in the first place?”  With some much-needed quiet after a blessed and active Christmas, I have written down that question on paper, and in my mind, and processed it over and over for the past two days.  And while I don’t have all the answers, I believe I’ve found a few.  So if you will allow me, let me share with you a bit about my story, and my why.photo 1This was the first house I remember growing up in.  I was blessed to have come from a small town where I could walk to school and then home again every day.   When I was a young girl, my mom would allow me to “play office” with her by setting up a card table in my room which was across from her office.  She equipped my “desk” complete with my own adding machine and drawer of paper money.  I would then have my sister come to my “shop” (which was my room) and purchase things.  I wanted her as a customer so much that I even gave her money from my cash drawer to use in “purchasing” my goods!  Thinking about that now, I laugh at how I had to coerce her to play my silly “shop” game.  I believe that experience impacted us both in ways that are still unfolding.

As those early years led into my pre-teen years, my mom owned and operated her own florist business – FANCY THAT – in this same small town.  At the time, all I knew was that my mom and a friend of hers spent their time while I was in school in this downtown shop making floral arrangements for people.  To this day, she has the sign from that shop hanging in her craft room.

As I entered Jr High and then High School, mom and I developed a like-passion for venting our creativity into various outlets.  We spent many a night and weekend making homemade crafts….anything from her floral designs to my cross-stitched Christmas ornaments….with the idea that we would enter into craft shows in our area.  That we did…and we each actually won a few blue ribbons for our wares!

Now let’s fast-forward some 30+ years.Booth 021The year was 2008 and my son was in high school, during which he took art classes.  During the summers, he would often have some project or another going, as would I.  It was during this time that he taught me the fine art of making my own pallet signs.  This was my first one, and I was quite proud!  I used stencils for the design work because I couldn’t paint a lick!  And I used spray paint, of all things!

Not long after I began making these signs, I felt the desire in me growing to have my own space to try and sell my signs.  Booth spaces had become a big thing, and I remember applying for and getting my first space in a downtown shop….The Eclectic Cottage.  It was a huge financial stretch for us at the time….$35 a month for a pole space!  Literally, the space was a supporting pole/wall that was not even 3 feet wide but that went all the way to the ceiling.  For my $35 investment, I could fill that pole with anything I could design.  And design I did!  It wasn’t enough for me to just hang my “wall art”….I decided to purchase a small chest, paint it and get a few Goodwill items to display with my signs.  What I soon learned was that I seemed to enjoy designing the space almost more than designing the art to go in the space! And customers were buying both the wall pieces as well as the furniture and do-dads!

I’ll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that I went on to larger spaces in more than one venue over the next 8 years, all the while discovering a few things that I truly enjoyed almost more than making my signs.

My first discovery was that I found that God had given me a passion for seeing others overcome their own feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness (as He was surely helping me overcome my own), and He was using this venue to expose me to other women with stories all their own. I found myself being inspired by them all in one way or another.

Secondly, I discovered that God….the Master Creator….had instilled a bit of creativity in me!  I was drawn to designing spaces of intrigue.  I wanted others to be drawn into places of coziness and warmth just by coming into my booth space.  And when they wandered out of that space, I wanted them to leave with their own creative juices flowing!

My final discovery is one that was launched as I opened my own brick and mortar space.  I realized that I was becoming a part of others’ journeys, and I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness to allow that.  You see, whether it is a new bride that comes looking to adorn her first home with candlesticks for her mantle, or the couple that has moved out of their “forever” home into a downsized space for their aging years, I get to be a part of helping them find the perfect pieces to aid in their own personal journeys through the years ahead. And our lives – in a small but significant way – intertwine.  I love that!

I know there will be more discoveries ahead.  In fact, I have spent this week preparing Burlap & Lace with all new rooms for you to explore!  So much new merchandise, and so much more to come in the months ahead.  We have a lot of forward-journeying to do together.  But before we take another step forward, allow me to take a walk down memory lane with you, exploring some of my sweetest designs over the past 8 years.  Here’s to the memories!

Signs…wall art….my humble beginnings.

My sweet sister making pillows for my shop –

And then just a few of my “happy” spaces….

Thanks for being the biggest part of my story…and of my “why”.  I look forward to spending this new year with you!

~Blessings,

Connie

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