The Spirit, The Wallet, and The Ego

At the start of this year, I pledged to embrace the mantra: Local, Home, Hand. This was a conscious effort to incorporate more homemade and handmade pieces into my life; frequent small businesses and support local artists and artisans. The idea behind this was to become more thoughtful about consumerism and to connect more personally with the people making the goods and providing services.

I’m happy to say that so far, everything is going according to the plan. Well, almost.

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I recently started a business (yay!! 🙂 ——->insert shameless plug here,)<——— and I felt a resurgence of creativity that had been dormant for about a year now. A few months ago, the hyper focus of raising my twins very gradually shifted from all about the girls, to mostly about the girls, with a side of mommy’s art time. Drawings started to fill my half-used sketch book, and I revisited some shelved t-shirt designs. It was the spark I needed to light that creative spirit again and give me a sense of accomplishment apart from being a mother.FullSizeRender

Time home with my twins made me realize a few things about style and comfort. Personally, I needed both: clothing and accessories that were stylish, and could function for daily parenting activities. This was the inspiration for the Ginger and Hazel™ business. My girls have become very interested in hats and headbands and learning how to put things on and take them off, so these items were in our daily rotation of interesting things that could entertain and educate. Also, my babes are still pretty bald, so they require head gear pretty much everywhere we go since the weather has been cold here in the Northeast.

A typical night around here is putting the girls to bed and then staying up till about 2am cutting, pinning, and sewing fabric, and sharing pictures of items and events on social media. Essentially, I hit the ground running with my girls at 7:30/8am, and then 12 hours later, clock out as “Mom” and clock in as Juliette, the hippie-ish, sort of crunchy, art student that dates (married) the tattoo artist, and stays up all night making cool things.IMG_0638-1 It’s like the old me comes out at night. I should definitely be sleeping more. But the truth is, I love it. I love the thrill of making something with my hands. So much so, that I’m willing to sacrifice precious sleep to do it. It’s good for spirit, I can feel it.

So then there’s the reality of running this small business. There’s money spent collecting materials and tools. I’ve set up an Etsy shop where people can purchase my handmade items, and I’ve sold hats and headbands directly to friends and family. Direct sales are the most profitable. Profits are good for the wallet.

And finally, the retail experience. This is where it gets interesting. Retail offers great exposure and validation for your product or brand. FullSizeRender-1When you find one that shares your vision and aligns with your values and expectations, it can be a wonderful partnership. It’s exciting seeing your item in a store, even if your profits may initially take a hit. This is great for the ego. And I’ll be honest, I take a lot of selfies modeling my own products with my girls. After two babies and very little sleep, a couple clicks on the ‘like’ button is damn good for the ego too.

So, looking to the future, the questions hang in the air: Will you be successful? What is success? I’m happy to say that I am personally making some fun and creative items for family, friends, and maybe you, but at the end of the (very long) day, I’m really making them for me. Through Ginger and Hazel though, I get to share. ❤

You can check out some of our handmade products here! 🙂 :

www.etsy.com/shop/GingerandHazel 

 Find us on Instagram: @gingerandhazelcoIMG_3826

#Rewearthedress

In August of 2014, hubs and I celebrated 6 years of marriage, opened a new business, and had made it through 9 months of raising twins while co-habitating with family. We hadn’t been out on a date since the girls had come home from the NICU, and barely had free time with each other.

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While running my hands over the many garment bags hanging from the rolling wardrobe in the basement, I saw the thick, white vinyl that protected my wedding dress. It was such a lovely dress. Simple, no frills. I wondered if it still fit. I remembered how I went shopping for it by myself, and bought the sample off the rack at the bridal boutique to save money. After alterations, I STILL ended up paying the equivalent of several car payments for something I would only wear for a few hours. Why did I do that again? And it’s pretty widely agreed upon that the wedding dress shouldn’t be worn again. So, essentially this is a very expensive, single use item. Like a very elaborate up-do or makeup job that looks great for the night and comes off by morning. Some people would argue that a wedding dress is a valuable keepsake, or heirloom. They would preserve their dress (which of course costs more money,) to pass on to family. But I have found that most dresses end up taking up valuable space, and people are left with a relic that no one has the guts to donate or repurpose. Or they don’t know how. Some people have imagined beautiful ways to reuse heirloom dresses, or display them for all to see, (check out some of those ideas here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-tate/10-creative-things-to-do-_b_5194277.html ,) but not everyone has the space or time to do that. So I thought to myself, why can’t I wear this again?

From this thought came #rewearthedress. Because on the one hand, it’s just a dress. Wearing it to a restaurant (or around the house, or letting your kids play in it or with it, or drawing on it…)lessens the pomp and circumstance. It makes a statement about how silly it is to place so much value and importance on a dress. It’s a piece of clothing, just like a shirt or a pair of jeans. It’s amazing that entire television shows are devoted to wedding dresses. There are some people who place more importance on the dress than finding the right person to wear it with. But on the other hand, it’s a (sometimes pricey,) wearable memento from a very special day. And it’s one hell of a conversation starter. My dress is a very tangible reminder of the day hubs and I made vows to one another and danced all night with our closest friends and family. I enjoy telling people about our great party and my great partner. And it is fun! It made me feel pretty and a little impressed with myself that I could clean up and get into it after months of wearing pajamas and nursing babies around the clock.

I made a plan to wear my wedding dress again for our 6th anniversary dinner date-no matter where we decided to go. To my delight, it still fit-probably a little better than it had pre-twins thanks to nursing. Hubs, being the roll-with-it kind of person that he is, was all for the idea, (one of the many reasons I married him!) We made plans to eat at a clubby, local sushi place, and had babysitting all lined up.

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Three days before our anniversary, a slight eye irritation was beginning to really bother me. It seemed I was developing a pesky stye. Hot compresses were applied, and I skipped makeup. The day before our date, my eye was so swollen shut, I had to go to the doctor. I was told I needed antibiotics, and possibly a trip to the ER. Aweeeesooooome. It was pretty disappointing. Murphy’s Law in full effect. We debated rescheduling for another weekend, but waiting weeks to get out alone for a few hours to celebrate an anniversary happening at that moment, just didn’t feel right. So, I improvised. I grabbed some sunglasses and a fedora, and wore the dress anyway. We never actually made it to sushi, either. By the time we were out of the house and made our way to the restaurant, my face was puffy and uncomfortable and shaded by sunglasses, so we decided a quiet, well-lit, casual meal would be better. So, we went to our local taco spot and tucked my dress under the small, wooden table where hot sauce sits in a condiment caddy made out of an old six pack box. We ordered nachos and tacos and sat face to face (sunglasses,) and had our first childless conversation, with the lights on, out of our home. Hubs held my hand across the table and told me I looked beautiful, and afterwards we visited the shaved ice shop.

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The whole outing happened so fast that we drove around just to stay out a little longer with each other. We talked about our babies a lot, but also about our wedding day, and life before the girls and plans for the future. It was really nice. I told hubs that if the dress still fits, I’d like to wear it every year on our anniversary-even if next year we decide to stay in. Why not? I’d love to see more people wear their wedding dresses again. Hell, even if that dress has outlasted the marriage, don’t let it just sit in the closet! (Check out what this guy did! http://pulptastic.com/wife-leaves-husband-gets-little-creative-wedding-dress-see-hilarious-results/ ) It gets people remembering, and talking. People perk up when they talk about their wedding day and start to tell the stories of how they met and the people that were there along the way. I read somewhere that taking photos on anniversary vacations in the wedding dress is a thing.  Maybe for our 25th. 🙂 #rewearthedress

I am an expert-ish.

Having a child is making a schedule, and then improvising daily. It’s the constant tension between those two things-being organized and letting shit hit the fan sometimes. At least that’s how it is for me.

When you are a parent, you ARE an expert! You are an expert on YOUR kid!

I use the word ‘parent’ to describe any person taking on the caregiver role-someone who consistently is loving and caring for a child and making decisions and sacrifices that will affect themselves and the life of another tiny individual. You don’t know everything, I don’t either, but that tiny voice inside you that’s telling you maybe you should skip the afternoon nap instead of putting the babe down at 5 o’clock when your mother tells you the poor dear needs rest, well, that’s the voice you need to listen to. It’s the one that has patiently and impatiently observed for months on end, day in and day out, guiding you through the ironing out of your daily routines and weighed and measured all possible outcomes and results. There is no replicating its authority or unique experience. It’s like a scientist conducting experiments sometimes. Try not to make eye contact when she’s drinking from the sippy cup, maybe she’ll realize that without your interest, it’s not funny to dribble water down her chin and soak her onesie down to her diaper. Oh, that worked?! Great, trial complete, successful outcome logged. Put the mini denim armchair in the play yard-it will keep them busy so you can make some phone calls. Kid stepped on the arm, then top of the chair and climbed over the baby gate and is now standing on the coffee table? Recalibrating the keep baby busy approach. Logging trial results for future reference. This situation could have gone either way, in my opinion.