Friday, August 6, 2010

Backstory -continued

The loose definition of a backstory is this: the experiences of a character or the circumstances of an event that occur before the action or the narrative.  A prequel. The history behind a situation.

So, I guess that's what I'm doing here, giving all this background info on my life for 1- to let you the reader know more about who i am and 2- to help me remember from whence i come and help me to see clearer where i am headed.

That being said, I will move now to the next stage, the college years.  The most memorable parts of my first college career in the nursing program was submitting a design for the t-shirts to be worn by the health technologies division during the field day events and being chosen.  I also founded a newsletter aptly named "Nurses Notes". I was spending all of my free time taking the 35mm camera that i received for my high school graduation and going on photo adventures.  Everytime I got extra money I bought photo equipment, developing supplies, paper, film etc. Remember the Christmas lists i told you about? Now it was lenses and filters.  I even squeezed in a class on sundays at the college in photography. I was in love!  This was my medium. 

I remember sitting on campus, waiting to head to my next class, anatomy and physiology II where we were to dissect a cat and identify parts when I spotted a group of students, giant black portfolios in hand, heading to their class. I wanted to be them.  So I went home that evening and over the dinner table told my parents I wanted to quit nursing and go for Marketing, Art and Design. A hush fell and my parents thought for a moment , looked at each other and then proceeded to persuade me to finish nursing, after all I was halfway to getting my RN. With that i could go anywhere and always find a job.  And they were right, so finish I did.  To this day I maintain my license.
That's me, 1979
Shortly thereafter while on vacation here in Chincoteague, I met my husband and after graduating and taking my state boards I moved to Virginia and was married a year and a half later. My parents were right, down here I would have never gotten a job in a marketing art and design field in those days. In fact they were so short of nurses that my first job was as a nursing supervisor at a nursing home. From there I tried the health dept and the hospital where i was a charge nurse of a very busy med /surg floor until the birth of my daughter 5 years later.  All during this time I taught myself to quilt and do other needlearts and crafts and always had a project that I was working on.  I attempted to return to work when she was 13 months old but that only lasted 5 months as child care here was virtually non existant at the time and babysitters were too unreliable.  But I had a problem, I had always worked, always had my own money, and I didn't like "being dependent".  What to do?

You know, a creative mind can be a dangerous thing when left alone! One day while food shopping I picked up a new magazine called Country Sampler.  I came home and read through cover to cover and promptly called the editor directly at the time, Mark Nichols, to ask "how does a person get into this magazine?" he asked what i did and I told him quilts. He told me he was trying to find someone who did quilts to add to the magazine. PERFECT!  All I had to do was send in $575. for a years' worth of advertising, the same ad for 3 issues, send the quilts with the written copy and they would photograph them in a room setting.  Great! Now where am i going to come up with an extra $575. to do this with?  I wasn't in the habit of borrowing money but my muse was screaming "you've got to do this!"  I called my grandfather, explained the situation, he agreed to send it to me and i told him if it didn't work out i would go back to work to repay my debt.  I called my state tax office and applied for a tax number, picked a name and when my husband came home from work I announced to him " I'm going into business!"  Everyone thought I was nuts. " what do you know about running a business?" I don't know but I'll do it.  And so i did. The year was 1984 and Comforts of Home was born and i made custom quilts and continued to advertise with them for over 4 years until the influx of cheap quilts from china and other places made it so that i couldn't compete. I couldn't even buy the fabrics for what they were selling a finished quilt for!   It was also during this time that my husband and i purchased an old run down restaurant (1985)  spending a year renovating and opening in May of 1986.  Again i felt the tug between what I wanted to be doing ( my quilt business) and devoting myself to helping get his dream of the ground.

As with so many women,  a recurring theme in my life is choosing between my own ambitions and dreams and those of my loved ones. Devoting my time to them or me?  I always wanted to be a stay at home mom and when i chose to, it was an unpopular thing to do.  But to have a cottage industry, to be home with my children raising them AND to be able to follow my dream was a perfect combination.  I designed quilts using graph paper and prismacolor pencils (no computers with fancy graphics and quilt design programs back then!)and put fabrics together and worked while the kids napped (my son was born in 1989) , wrote my ads and created a brochure and it really fulfilled me. You see, Marketing , Art and Design.  I felt very blessed to have this but it was apparent- change was a comin'.

1 comment:

  1. Laura, I so enjoyed reading your story. It is so interesting to get to know someone before you met them in modern time. :-) You have such an interesting background, full of perseverance! And it seems that today you are following your your love of art!


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