I was the shy, quiet, introverted, highly-sensitive, artistic kid; always painting, drawing, cross-stitching, creating. I felt different, overlooked, misunderstood (hello, enneagram 4). My parents were loving and supportive and provided me and my sisters with a home to thrive in; art, faith, books, travel and living a simple and good life was encouraged.
My grandmother was a huge advocate of my art making. She was an artist herself and was a lifelong learner of new skills and techniques. She taught me to sew and signed me up for art classes and encouraged me to keep learning. I'm thankful for the legacy that, along with many other women in my family, she left for me to share.
In high school, I fell more in love with making art. It's what I wanted to do, it's who I was, and I was pretty good at it. I also fell in love with the French language, and was becoming my true self even more. When I was 17, I took a trip to Paris that forever changed my world view. I had big dreams for my life. I wanted to see the world, paint, and live a full, creative life.
In the 90's art as a career choice wasn't seen as a viable option. I can still hear the voices telling me that I needed to get a real degree for a real job. I thought I would go into teaching (art and french) but quickly realized teaching wasn't for me (I did marry a teacher and I truly appreciate his gifting). I graduated with a degree in Retail and Consumer Sciences & business minor from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the summer of 1999 (50 years to the exact month that my grandfather had graduated from the same school).
I'm thankful for my life experiences, my education, and my family, but I gave up my dreams to fit in, to make practical choices, and to please others. I can't change the past but in many ways feeling that tension of my past mistakes makes me appreciate my gifting even more now.
From a young age I knew I wanted to get married and have a family. So I devoted my life to creating a home and taking care of my family. I'm grateful to my husband that I was able to stay at home with my kids, which isn't easy on a teacher's salary. The early years with two babies were so hard (they were 20 months apart). I suffered terribly from postpartum depression, a colicky infant, and spent so many years barely functioning and basically surviving life. I had lost myself and prayed that I would one day come out of it and thrive. I had faith, hope, the love and support of my husband, and my family, but it was Jesus who carried me through that time.
Over the years, after lots of healing and growing, I finally found myself and my own creativity again. I spent many years creating a home; cooking, sewing for my kids and home, creating journals for myself, making handmade cards and ornaments for holidays, but making gifts for my family at Christmas sparked something in me. I loved making things for other people, but I needed more. I started drawing, painting, designing for fun and I felt like I was finding myself again.
I had a canvas from high school that was a constant reminder of all the years I didn't paint. It layers of paint but was still blank. Then one day I started putting paint on it, it was a breakthrough. It gave me hope that I could actually still live out my dreams. I have it front and center in my studio, and it still is a constant reminder, but now it means that I will never give up on my dreams.
Its an abstract of the view from lake house where my mom grew up (my childhood memories), and its next to a charcoal drawing by my grandmother of my sisters and I.
When I was 16 my grandmother had given me the gift of investing in stocks (she was way ahead of her time). 22 years later, I knew it was time to cash them in, because I had an idea for a business. In 2016 I started my first handmade business, the gingham studio: a mixture of my love of all things french, creating and sewing and formed a business, not my original idea but it felt like the right way to go. The Eiffel Tower is a beacon of my dreams and the beauty I see in the world around me.
In 2019, I felt called to rebrand my business to my original business idea: to inspire preteen/teen girls to embrace their girlhood. The legacy I want to build is the same one that the women who came before me gave to me. They were creatives, artists, makers, writers, poets, entrepreneurs, risk-takers, activists, homemakers, sexists, mothers, friends, wives, hobbyists, readers and lifelong learners.
I want to inspire girls to live a simple and creative life, to keep reading, making art, and using their gifts. I hope to give them the encouragement to know their personalities, interests, hobbies, and creative tendencies are important. I want to encourage girls (young and grown) to continue following their dreams and create a life they love without losing themselves in the process. I want them to feel seen and understood and know they were created with a purpose.