I know we are still a couple months out from the year's end, but I'm reminiscing now.
In August, it was one year since we leapt. My husband and I left what we knew for the kind of life we wanted to live. This meant both of us becoming self-employed, leaving behind some aspects of the things we had degrees and experience in, and finding a new way.
Among the things we wanted were: shared parenting and working, the ability to rest, the ability to know our neighbors and be known by them, a less segregated life (racially, economically, culturally, and philosophically), the ability to be involved in our kids' and neighborhood's school, and freedom from some other restrictions that came with our last lifestyle.
The most challenging aspects of the last year have been: worry about finances (kinda needlessly), working nights (no tv, no books, just work), and the emotional process of letting go of the past. Oh, and having a baby and that baby not sleeping well.
Meanwhile, here's what happened in my work in textile art:
I did a friends and family sale for November and made and sold more than ever. I shipped full sized looms for the first time. I tried sending letters with floral painted envelopes and tiny dreamcatcher weavings inside to local interior designers. I rented a space at the Galleria in Andersonville for a few months and kept it stocked. I created the idea of a loom for jewelry. I started working in circles. I went to a macrame class with Kenyatta Forbes and asked her to be my friend (which you will likely do also when you go to her class). I got an Instagram message from Alicia at Unison Home that led to meeting Jamie and the rest of their inspiring team, and collaborating with them.
I worked with my first interior designers, who are now my friends. Claire was introduced to me by the amazing neighbors who moved in below us just before we closed out our 9 years living in Logan Square. Carly and I met through a group for Chicago moms in business and became friends when she let me use her house to take photos of my work. I can't believe I've known her less than a year!
I made like 400 tassels by hand for the One of a Kind spring show. I sold 2. I sold my favorite piece to Rachel, who is now about to open Aware Marketplace in Cleveland and will have some wholesale looms from me. I met Liz and Maureen from Scratch Goods at One of a Kind and felt like I was finding my people.
I cut my hair short and started learning actual weaving techniques from other weavers. I took a 12 week community business course with Sunshine Enterprises and got some powerful coaching. I made more commissioned work than ever but still somehow not a ton of money. My baby wasn't sleeping and I was drowning in postpartum anxiety (which is how I roll), but I never regretted for a moment our life changes.
I emailed Joslyn Villalpando to ask about buying some miniature looms off of her and that led to the opportunity to visit a school she works with and talk to students about reusing fabric, dyeing and being an artist who doesn't know how to render. Joslyn is pure sunshine and you should do her workshops if you're in Chicago. I got to show my work at The Children's Museum of Art and Social Justice and sold my first work in a gallery setting that night in support of their work. I met Nikki on Instagram and started eating up her funny videos and liked her so much I gave her a present the first time I saw her. She invited me to a retreat for creative women entrepreneurs and basically sealed my adoration forever.
I started working in series intentionally, which led to working more prophetically. Saying something. More than just about my medium and materials. It integrated my whole self into my work.
In the midst of all this, Nate and I had our 10th anniversary and got matching tattoos. We had our first garden, got chickens and survived working from home while the kids were out of school for the summer. I got together with 2 mom friends who hold my heart almost every Tuesday of the summer with our NINE kids. Nate put in a lot of hours on some projects that he loves, and also experienced a couple lemons for clients. Somehow we still managed to go camping for the first and second time with the kids, babysit for friends, get through our first year with kids in school, host holidays and birthday parties and all the other life things. I'm remembering so many huge things I haven't even mentioned. It all feels fast and tiny in the moment but looking back all those tiny things made an amazing first year of this new life. It's shocking to see the progress when you look back over a span of time. It's easy to miss it in the day to day.
What sticks out to me most in this past year is the generous support of Chicago's local business and creative community. At Lakeview Arts Fest a lady walked into my booth and with such conviction said only the words, "keep going, keep going, keep going." She and you were my prophets this year, and I'll never forget it.