Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Buttons to Treasures...

Ok folks- this is going to be a bit long, but I had to give you the background and it's a journey! Here goes..... (big breath)...

I can't help but laugh when I think back to only 4 years ago, when I used to walk down the block to our dry cleaner in Chicago, IL and ask her to sew the buttons back on my dress shirts for me, because... wait for it... I didn't know how to do it myself. Now I am stitching 10-15 hours a day and mostly by hand! I'm sure Mrs. Lee would be laughing now too.

It sort of happened on accident, me starting my own business and creating one-of-a-kind items for a new career. I thought I would be teaching elementary school for the rest of my adult life.  When the opportunity arose for me to stay home with our almost-two-year-old at the time, I wasn't sure what God had in store for me. I was pretty confident in my identity as a working mom, and felt successful at it.  What would this new adventure of 24-hour, round the clock care of another little human be like for someone who was/is so innately selfish and self-consumed? I soon knew the answer- LIFE ALTERING. At first it was a miserable change: wipe a nose, scold a behavior, change the behavior, make a meal, clean up that meal, wipe "something else" and back at #1- you get my drift. Motherhood can be the most demanding and unappreciative job to ever exist; it can also be the most rewarding and identity-defining job to ever exist. 
So, after a tough two years (give or take) of transitioning from being a working-mom (with an identity in my career and not simply in being a "nose-wiper") I learned to put my identity in God. I read Jen Hatmaker's book "Out of the Spin Cycle" (one which I cannot recommend enough to other stay-at-home-moms) began to see my identity in what it should be, rather than what it was: my identity should be in simply being a child of God. I am a person blessed over and over with grace (undeserved love) and patience and unconditional love, and therefor asked to give the same to others. Once I saw this, my days of laundry and meal prepping were seen as a way to serve my family so that they might see God's grace and love through me.
It was then that God reignited my passion for creating any and everything (also known as "crafting") and because my eyes and my heart were so clearly focused, He blessed that. 
A friend encouraged me to try out Pinterest and with my OCD tendencies, I jumped right in and began creating all over the place (literally, my husband was scolded several times for throwing away empty toilet paper rolls because of all the "art" I could create with them:).  At first I was overwhelmed, but like I said, in the background the Lord was forming me and my heart's desires to match HIS, and once I focused in on a specific field of creation (i.e. boutique children's items and accessories) things took off! It started with my friend (Susan:) showing me a cute outfit she had wanted to get for her kids to wear for Valentine's Day and I couldn't have imagined spending that much on a set of clothes (cheap!cheap!I am cheap!) so I asked her if she would let me try and make her something similarly for a lot less. I hadn't used a sewing machine or been near fabric since 9th grade home-ec class, but heck, I could try anything! So the first "Token Blonde: Noticeably Different" creation took place.
Valentine's Day 2012
Two of my favorite models:
Miss Taylor and Mr. Garrett <3
I was so happy to see my friend's delight and her telling others about what I had made, that I couldn't just let it go. I started making more, experimenting with different fabrics, practicing different techniques and seeing how different thread weights created differently- I was HOOKED. One of my dearest friends in the world (Heather:) suggested I look into Etsy.com to open my items to more buyers. I first scoffed- who would want to spend money on something I created that might not even stand up in the wash (*side bar: I have worked very hard to make most of the items in my shop machine washable and only a few are hand-washed, but doable). My ever-patient-loving-encouraging-husband took the reigns of business manager and started looking into "this Etsy thing". He was the one who read up on all of the policies and the expectations and the shipping rates, comparable pricing, etc. Without him I was a puddle of fear, insecurities, exhaustion and tears in the middle of my living room floor. I can't even count the times he has scraped me off the floor and put me back together with words of encouragment and a quick slap on the butt, "You can do it Squeeks" (my family's nickname for myself- LOL). So I posted my first item on Etsy in late February 2012, for St. Patrick's Day and as my new friend Leslie would say (she is sure to be a whole different post by the way:) "I just about peed myself" when I received that first email saying I had a purchase from my shop!
March 2012:
St. Patrick's Day Onesie
First item listed at Token Blonde: Noticably Different
My favorite little Leprechauns :)
So, as I finish up this first blog entry, I'm sure there will be more in the very near future, it's nice to reflect on how I got here (with lots of fear, tears, encouragement and help:), and how much I love being where I'm at now. Please check back regularly- I'm sure to keep you on your toes in the world of sewing, thimbles and thread! :)

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