Many of you followed along with me on Facebook on my recent journey as I ran away from home for a summer sabbatical and spent a month staying in a beautiful little cottage by the sea in Rockport, Massachusetts. Many friends and customers asked why would I take such a long journey on my own? The short answer is, I was very tired and needed a break to replenish and renew myself. I had faced several health problems that I can attribute to not taking care of me. One weepy night after closing my shop, with a very worried husband, I explained to him that I was tired and overwhelmed. Do you ever feel like that? At his urging, I decided to take a long trip on my own. (I do love that sweet man!)
Since opening Sweet South Cottage, I have worked 6-7 days per week with only a few holiday breaks. I also own a governmental affairs consulting business that requires a great deal of time. I have loved building the store. And I am so blessed that I have gotten to pursue a long held dream. But somewhere along the way I felt like I had lost some of the mission and purpose of who I wanted us to be as a company. My original vision was to procure and up-cycle antique and vintage treasures as well as support and carry local artisans who produce art and other heirloom quality goods. All with a unique Southern Lifestyle flair. However, in addition, I also wanted a place that nurtured the souls of our customers. An oasis of joy in the midst of a sometimes frenzied existence that we all live.
I am a true representative of my customer demographics. While both of my parents have passed away and my boys are now both out of college and on their own, for many years I was a member of the sandwich generation – caring for elderly parents while at the same time being a wife and mothering and nurturing two boys. I know many of you are in this same place. I guess I really opened Sweet South Cottage because I wanted to nurture my own soul but I also knew that you needed the same thing. Here is what we all need:
1.To be inspired
2. To feel treasured
3. To find empathy and compassion
4. To create
5. To nurture our souls
It might be an odd concept for the owner of a small boutique to have such lofty goals for her little store. Sure, I love the auctions, the picking, the painting and decorating, but I also love knowing our customers and their stories. Every person that walks through our door is in the middle of their story. In the past three years, I have laughed with customers and I have cried with customers. I have had people come to me after taking a furniture painting class to tell me that “learning to paint furniture changed everything”. I have had students that are trying to heal and work through grief and use Chalk Paint® as their therapy. We have had students pass through our shop or classes that have lost parents, spouses, siblings and children. They are looking for anything that will bring them back to the land of the living. I have had customers who are fighting cancer and going through divorces. I have had customers that are just plain tired and are ready to do just a little something for themselves. I hope we have ministered to them along the way.
But somewhere in hustle and bustle of taking inventory, ordering supplies and painting furniture, we started to lose the very thing that made us special and different. My month of rest and reflection has worked it’s magic. I can see clearly again where we are going and I am so excited for the future. I hope you will be charmed and delighted by some physical changes that are happening at Sweet South Cottage. I hope your sense of adventure will be challenged by the new items you will find to purchase when you visit. And most of all I hope that we can help YOU find the quiet center of your life, where you can remember how to dream again.
Look for the next post: A New Chapter at Sweet South Cottage and Random Acts of Kindness – Part 2.