Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 - A year of reflection

In order to truly reflect on 2015, I have to go back a few months to May of 2014.

In May of 2014, I was asked to be part of a co-op gift store opening in the Indian River Mall in Vero Beach, Florida.  I had been highly recommended by the mall manager.  I was told by the owner of Unique Designs, Gail Farmer, that she was told it would be a mistake not to have me in her co-op.  Roberta had purchased several of my custom wine bottle serving trays and jewelry at a business expo.  So Gail called me and offered me space without seeing my jewelry or the trays.

And so the beginning of my journey began.

I took this venture very seriously.  For every additional vendor that was obtained there would be a reduction in rent for my space.  So I dug in and was able to get 18 artisans for the co-op.  I also began helping in any way that I could because I really wanted the store to be a success.

In helping out I was able to buy a few displays and was even out right given what was referred to as The Arc.

So I set up to sell my jewelry, my recycled wine bottle trays and lamps and had even purchased some wholesale puzzle lamp kits.  I also invested (a lot) in personalized children character banners.

Here is a small piece of my world within the store during the holiday season.









I retired 17ish years ago as a Real Estate Paralegal and began working at home in order to travel with my husband with his job as a pitching coach.  Summers are really long when you have to wait for vacation time.  I had a thriving business selling decorative accents and back splashes to local tile companies until the housing market took a crash.  So I was itching to have something to make me feel useful.  My husband thought I was unhappy and didn't, at first, understand my need to work in order to stimulate my brain.  I was on a mission to succeed and make him proud and spent tons of time at the store offering help where needed.  Which was mainly the books and computers.  It is what I was good at.  I started a Facebook page and website for the store along with handling the day to day accounting.

So my art and creativity were put on hold since the store was open from 9;00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and I spent a great amount of time there.  The co-op was open just for the holiday season - October to December.  As the end of the year came to and end, Gail was trying to figure out how to keep the co-op together.  The mall was an option, but the area we were located was not well traveled.

Unknowningly, the Vero Beach Outlets general manager had been checking out the store and offered a location within their outdoor mall.

I honestly don't know how it happened but, I became the owner of a store!  It was such a whirlwind and happened within a few weeks.  And so Artisan Crafts & Gifts LLC is born.

And now 2015 begins and what a year.  And now into 2016 I have had a lot of time to reflect, but hind sight isn't given up front............

I purchased displays from other vendors at Unique Designs and what wasn't discarded as inappropriate was donated to the new store.  So the store had to be moved, which cost money.  So Gail, her husband, Jody, my husband, Bob and I moved a store of fixtures and product to the new location in the Vero Beach Outlets in a Hertz moving truck.  Didn't want to do that again!!!

January was full of cleaning, painting, organizing - everything needed to open a store!  And more, because it as a new store!  Excitement was in the air.  Open House was January 31st and the doors opened on February 1st, 2015.




The store featured local artist and other local vendors, a small cafe (kinda) and classes.


Our artisans ranged from a bakery, jewelers, painters among others.  Our cafe, although small, was getting ready to expand - and so the ending will start to begin...........


Our classes ranged from cake decorating, drawing, Photoshop, painting and a variety of jewelry classes.

Bill Gimbel teaching the concepts of drawing

Me teaching Viking Knit

Joey Caldwell teaches Photoshop

Lori Young teaches cake decorating

Genny Smith teaches chainmaille

I wanted to have a "special" teacher featured once a month and my first (and it turned out - only) was Lisa Lynn Barth.  Lisa taught 4 classes the first week of June.  Wire Weaving, Precious Metal Clay, Leather Crafting and Jewelry Photography.  The classes were full and the future was looking bright!!!


Lisa Barth teaching wire weaving

Lisa Barth's Bezel Setting Class

Student pieces from Lisa Barth's Leather Class

Lisa Barth on photographing & editing your jewelry photos

But............during Lisa's visit I received a letter which was the kiss of death for the store.  The owner's of the mall opted for their 60 day no cause clause.  My store was closing - I could not believe what was happening when everything was so perfect.  My cafe vendor was expanding and although I wasn't allowed to continue having him in the store, the mall was obtaining another store - an Italian Market.  In a mall that their food court was 1 store - Subway.  A mall desperate for food and I found it for them.  Their thanks............adios!

So the doors to my store closed on July 31st.  Having spent our savings on opening and outfitting the store and the additional expense of having to move, there was no way to move to another location.  There just weren't any funds.  And to know that in July the store would have been paying its own expenses really made everything even worse.  And so remember the moving thing above, well, again, I was packing up and moving a store, but this time to my home (still trying to get things out of my house!) and to storage.  My daughter, a wonderful angel vendor and myself packed the store and our vehicles for MANY MANY trips to my home and storage facility.  I was in tears wondering how 3 women were going to get heavy store display cabinets on a moving truck.

My 2nd angels arrived.  Two gentlemen picking up displays that I sold were such a blessing packing up all the displays I wished to keep (just in case I ever reopened a retail store).  My son-in-law and 2 grandsons moved them into storage for me (that was very painful to watch as they had no handtrucks).

Then my 3rd angels arrived.  By that time I was just giving away any displays if you came to get them.  Not only did these angels take the displays so I didn't have to pay the landfill for dumping, but they again loaded the remaining things into the moving truck for me.  They even fed us and filled the truck with diesel fuel.

SO FOR THOSE WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD AND MIRACLES!!!!  I CAN TELL YOU, WHEN YOU ARE IN NEED AND ASK............GOD DELIVERS!!!!

The closing of my store was very hard on me!  Mentally and physically.  It has taken until almost this moment to get out of bed and look forward and not backwards.  It takes a toll.

Along with all the stresses of opening and closing a store, I had many health issues that needed to be addressed in 2015.  Had weeks of getting sick in the morning and since I knew that there were no insides to make even the possibility of pregnancy a thought, I had an endoscopy to find out that I had chronic gastritis.  The medications they gave me for this made me sicker than before so I stopped taking them and with avoiding all acidic foods (I LOVE LEMONADE!!!) and putting alkaline drops in my water I was able to get the gastritis in check.

I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea.  So after 2 sleep studies I was given a CPAP breathing machine.  After not having significant results to the machine, I had a ct-scan of my throat to find out it was structural.

A few weeks ago on December 23rd, I had a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery.  This surgery remodels the structure of your mouth, removing tonsils, adnoids, uvula, part of the soft palette and pharynx.  Although, my surgeon told me that this was the most painful surgery she does, I only had a sore throat and was able to talk from day one (an issue that my husband had a problem with).  I only took maybe 1/4 of the pain meds given to me.  Upon my follow-up, she told my husband that I had the highest pain tolerance of anyone she had EVER seen and to make me take the pain meds so that my throat would allow me to swallow, since she knew I was in tremendous pain.  So I took the meds for maybe 2 days (wink) and was able to swallow and eat.  I actually had me 2nd follow up this morning and she laughed and said that she wasn't going to yell today, that I was healing very well, but I definitely had a VERY high tolerance for pain.

So as I mend and heal both mentally and physically, I am trying to get organized in both my home and studio so my creativity has a place to start anew.  I am ready for the next chapter of my life and my creativity.






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