Thursday, December 6, 2018

Seasons of Life


{Pre-S: I'm so delighted to share some exciting news with you today. Here's the full story...}

There is nothing quite as magical to me as hearing the stories about how someone's life changed in unexpected ways. If you've been hanging out here for a while, you probably know that home decor, DIY projects, and creating gluten-free + vegan recipes are not my "real" job. In fact, this online journaling exercise about our home and life began as a bit of a creative outlet for me that was meant to simply be a way to recharge my imagination and energy.

In my day job, I'm a social science researcher, and I study adult psychosocial development. Quite a mouthful, right? In a nutshell, I listen to people's stories and try to hear what is going on in order to document the psychological theory. That's a rather long way of explaining that listening to stories is my life's work, it's what fuels me, and it's really no wonder that stories mean so much to me.

Lately, I've been reflecting on my own story, looking back on from where I came, and thinking about how we arrived at this season of life.

Credit: Snohomish Historical Society

The first pages


For as far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by stories, and historical stories, especially. Maybe it's the romantic in me that loves to imagine the day to day details of what someone's life was like generations before I arrived. As a child, my parents took us on more roadtrips than I can count, and while most kids would be bored and restless at a museum or visitor's center, I always loved it. I would read every single narrative that hung on the walls beside collections of historic photos and yellowed pages of handwritten documents as I tried to understand the lives of the people who settled an area, or made a noteworthy contribution to history. I truly couldn't get enough of it.

Hunting for and collecting antiques has a similar effect on me. I used to ride along with my grandparents on weekends as they visited antique malls to look for treasures. Both of them being very well-read and having an interest in American history, they knew so much information and shared it with me as we walked through the stores. I have always loved to find out the story and history of things because, to me, it makes them even more beautiful and significant when you understand from where they came.


Crafting my own story


Nearly 15 years ago, the idea of starting a little business began to percolate within my heart. I had always been a "crafter" and loved to make things, but I only did it for myself or as gifts for friends and family. Then, like many creatives who turn their hobby into something more, I started to get requests to make things for others. So I made up my mind to try participating in a craft fair, obtained a business license and a clunky metal cash box, and set to work creating.

Back then, I crafted a hodgepodge of anything I found interesting--jewelry, candles, lotion and soap, hand-lettered signs, you name it. This went on for quite some time. I spent my weekends during the fair weather months setting up my table and canopy at farmer's markets and craft fairs around town, and I loved it. I got to meet interesting people and hear their intriguing stories. This part was really the crux of the excitement for me.


Anyone with an understanding of business will tell you that I had what is considered a "hobby business"--something less legitimate than a real business because I was focused on things other than revenue. I did it purely for the love of the activity. Work happened at my pace and varied wildly depending on what other things I had going on in life. I certainly was not attempting to make a living at my endeavor, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

After a while, though, I started to get bigger orders, then went into wholesaling my creations and participating in expos and gift markets, and I was actually making an income from what was once just my little side project. I started to dream about opening a little storefront instead of working out of my craft room and garage. I even browsed commercial listings in hopes of finding the perfect spot to set up shop. A little voice inside me kept whispering, This could actually BE something!

And then the Great Recession hit in 2007. Shops were closing up instead of opening, no one was buying anything beyond the necessities for their families, and my little dream went on the back burner.

Turning the page


I kept learning new DIY techniques, crafting, and casually selling my creations from time to time, but it was purely for the love of the work--just like how it had started. When we purchased our little fixer-upper farm in 2011, that Jill-of-all-trades quality in me became quite useful as we worked to turn a very big project into something that felt like home.

Fast forward to this year when I thought--just for fun--I'd start keeping an online journal about the various projects and details of our life and home. Six months into blogging, I decided to start selling some of the many finished projects and my accumulated vintage decor finds at a shop in our small town. This decision came about in a very practical way--I simply had no more room to store things, and if I wanted to keep creating, I needed to let some things go. The tiny little space that we rented was only about 6' x 6', and I crammed it full of treasures with my fingers crossed that someone else would find new joy in the things I could no longer store.


It quite honestly came as a delightful surprise to us every single time something sold. And things were selling fast! Often, faster than I could keep up.

After a few months, we had the chance to stretch out and expand our little nook when another vendor moved. Because I had now collected many more finished projects, it made sense to take on the extra space and move those pieces into the shop. I had also developed relationships with a few suppliers of vintage and modern farmhouse home decor that allowed me to curate a collection of items that reflected the style of our own home.

Somehow, without any mindful intention to do so, the little dream to own a shop from over ten years before was becoming a present day reality right before our eyes!


A new chapter


After we started to see (and marvel about) how much others enjoyed the items I was making and selling, we began to have conversations about possibilities. Dreaming and talking about big ideas is something Rob and I have always done. It's one of my favorite things about our relationship and marriage--we talk about possibilities, even if they're big and distant and seemingly impossible. Even if they never come to fruition. We don't do it because we're creating some kind of concrete plan of our own; we do it because it's a way to open up our hearts to whatever bigger plans--bigger than what we could imagine--have been designed for our lives. It's quite possibly how we ended up moving to the country and buying this big old project of a house! It's all about being willing to joyfully embrace what comes next in our story.

As the fates would have it, the opportunity for change and growth came knocking again. Today, I am delighted to announce that we will be beginning a new chapter in this story as we expand our once tiny little shop space to become the French Creek Market Loft!


"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together."
—James Cash Penney, founder of JCPenney

Our expanded shop will be located in the upstairs loft of My Eclectic Home in beautiful historic downtown Snohomish--the antiques and home decor heart of the Pacific Northwest. Coincidentally, the historic building where we are located served as the town's JCPenney store from 1928 to 1977!

If you have never visited our sweet rural community, it is a trip you will not soon forget! You'll need at least a full day (but a weekend is better) just to see all of the boutiques and shops in our charming shopping district. And be sure not to miss a walk through town to stand in awe of the multitude of lovingly restored Victorian homes, or a drive through the country to tour the many historic barns!


You're Invited


None of this joy would be possible without you and the wholehearted kindness you've shown us. You are forever a part of our story, and for that, we are so very grateful. Please join us for our shop expansion festivities on Friday, December 14th from 11am to 5pm as we gather to celebrate this new chapter and season of life! We'll be hosting a hot cocoa and apple cider bar, as well as a door prize raffle, for a bit of extra fun while you do some holiday shopping! If you're not local, be sure to follow along in my Instagram Stories all day where I'll be sharing photos and videos with local IG friends as they stop by!


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