Thursday, September 04, 2014
Well, we did it.
We have found the permanent, real, live, physical, perfect location for Craft South. I still can't believe it on so many levels. What started over 18 months ago as an itch to move my online shop fulfillment, and therefore employees, to a space outside of my home, has developed into a venture, that in my hope of hopes, is literally and metaphysically building a brick and mortar wall around everything that I have been doing my whole adult life. My name and that of my husband's is now signed on a lease for a building that is still in the process of being built in Nashville's most bustling neighborhood, 12th South. We hope to move in towards the end of the year, and be open for business sometime early in 2015. More about the project here.
The pop-up style of how we have been running Craft South this summer, has brought to us some of the kindest, most talented, funniest, most diverse and interesting group of women & kids from all around the world who have had such a devoted enthusiasm for their craft of choice. Garments. Patchwork. Embroidery. Machine skills. Hand skills. What they all seem to have had in common more than anything is the desire to share and the desire to learn. Two things that I myself possess and work on every single day. In other words, I have somehow managed to bring kindred spirits to my home and create a place and a frame of mind where we are all bettering ourselves in a way that makes sense to us. That is me up there introducing the most recent group of weekend workshoppers to our shop in progress. I am a pretty lucky lady. Even luckier that I have been able to connect these ladies with amazing designers & friends like Amy Butler, Liesl Gibson, Natalie Chanin and, in just a couple of weeks, Heather Ross. I am thrilled that we will have a place to continue connecting crafters with those that inspire them and keep an open door policy with our neighbors who want to share, shop and learn.
If you have ever read my about page, you might have noticed a note buried in there about how I got started in my career. I got started with my mom. We had a shop called The Handmaiden in Knoxville that formalized the trade that I had developed in college of earning extra money making and selling dresses to local shops. We decided to have our own shop and make lots more dresses right there in front of everyone. We also sold the wares and designs of about 40 different local artists, so I got to know independent designers (in the days before Etsy) and their hopes and struggles at the tender age of 23. Mom had just retired from nursing. Juliana was 3. Jeff was still in school. We set up sewing shop at the back of the space, I designed the clothes, we both sewed them, and we barely made enough money to cover rent some months but I have barely ever had more fun as I did those three years with my mother. Playing store, talking to customers, figuring out how to be a mother, wife and business owner all at once, but all with the help and care of my devoted mother. My biggest fan, my most earnest supporter. My partner. The running of the business and all of the challenges we faced soon overwhelmed my ability to devote myself to designing. When the designing suffered, I chose to rather run the clothing line out of my home for a few more years wholesaling around the Southeast. My mother had this unbelievable knack for being able to chalk up the entire experience as one where we learned a lot and that it was a total and complete success, simply because it headed me where I was going. She was so proud of me and continued to support every move I made in business and life until her last moments. We had prayerfully dedicated our shop to the Virgin Mary, as she is referred to in some scripture as the handmaiden, and my mother was always so thrilled that we happen to sign the lease for that (incredibly overpriced) building on August 15th. It is on this day that the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the Virgin, and all those named Mary, which my mother was, and therefore celebrate August 15th as their "nameday". I likely would have forgotten that signing date had it not been for my mother so continually bringing it up over the years, and what a blessing it was to our experience. That was her. Always a good reason for everything. There was a glimmer on every bit of life if you looked hard enough, even those that I might have labeled as failures. She saw glimmers.
This new life I have- the one where she is not here, I am still figuring it out. When good things happen these days, particularly the ones that I don't expect.... the glimmer feels like her. It feels like she is arranging things for me. True or not, it is a comfort. And this new place. This (incredibly overpriced) building - I have been working continually to be the tenant there since February. It was a long and complicated and imperfect process that was filled with doubt, frustrations and high hopes and a huge investment of time beyond my everyday responsibilities. The process took so much longer than anticipated. We were set to sign in mid July. Things got sticky with negotiations and it moved to early August. Then we were set to sign on August 11th. The lawyers were out of town so the date moved to August 15th. And that is the day that this venture started. On mom's nameday. Again. This time, 19 years later, it was our little Mary Anna's nameday too, and we celebrated her.
Just the day before we signed the lease I taught the kid's hoola hoop weaving class and a very sweet woman brought her daughter to take my class. Before class got started I had a nice chat with the mom about craft, Nashville, parenting, school and how the city is growing. Later that night once settled in with my laptop, husband and a movie I got an email from that mom. She said it was not until after she had been in class with me and her daughter that she realized that I am the same lady that had a shop in Knoxville where she used to spend some time between classes while at UT. She said she remembers that I owned it with my mom who was such a sweet lady with whom she enjoyed speaking. I simply replied that hearing that gave me a lot of joy and what a small world.
We are beginning this adventure with a million little glimmers. Some of them hard work, some of them prayers, some of them art, some of them stitches and some of them are you. Thank you so much for any bit of help, encouragement, purchases, notes or thoughts you have lent to my process as a designer over the years. They have all brought me to a place- a physical one that I will gladly walk into and I hope to see you there.
with thanks, xoxoxoAnnaMaria
ps. keep an eye on the Craft South instagram feed for updates as we have them and the Craft South blog.