As we near our 100th sale on Etsy, I can't help feeling excited. Like we're crossing a threshold of some sort. And I think about what it means for us, and for those people with whom we've interacted over the last five years.
From early childhood, I had an entrepreneurial spirit. From a full-time candy stand in our neighborhood, to selling my artwork in our high school student exhibit - I always knew that I wanted to have my own business. Thankfully, I married a like-minded man. So having our own business, building things that are beautiful to us - that we really enjoy - is such a pleasure. And a gift. Enabling us both to stay home with our son is the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie! I really can't imagine a better life, and for that I am thankful.
But added to that blessing, is the reality of what happens when we sell one of our lights, or an oyster knife, or any of our copper work. We meet a person, a couple, a family. They allow us into their lives in some small way. Like looking at their home and offering our ideas for designs - what would best suit their needs since they eat their family meals and the kids do craft projects all on the same table; their front porch is really shaded and dark at night and they need a porch light that is beautiful but also functional so they can see their keys. It is a challenge to try to meet peoples' needs in design, but in doing that, we come into relationships with our clients and build a broader sense of community. One that is spanning the whole country!
This year has been particularly wonderful in terms of the folks we have met. First, there was the sweet couple who are building a beautiful stone patio off of the back of their home. They were having trouble envisioning what kind of lanterns they needed at all, but they knew they needed them. They lived about three hours away from us, so we went to meet them with sketchbook and cardboard mock-ups in hand. By the time we left, they had a design they were excited about and we spent the last 30 minutes hanging out in their garage talking about how much an old vehicle can mean to your family as we admired their vintage motorcycle.
And the young girl from Brooklyn, who found us on Etsy, started planning a chandelier for her apartment, then made us a stopping point on her vacation to Charleston. She came out to our shop to visit and see our work first-hand. We got to show her and her friend she was visiting around, and offer them some espresso from our brand new machine. We were feeling rather fancy. It meant the world to us that someone from far away would want to come out and meet us. She received her chandelier this past July, and sent us pictures of it installed in her sweet little Brooklyn apartment.
Even just this week, a couple from New York ordered a Camellia chandelier, telling us that it is the very last thing they need to finish the restorations to their home that was badly damaged during hurricane Irene. A chapter in their lives that they are looking forward to closing. This on the wake of hurricane Sandy, made us feel the sense of urgency to make this chandelier and get it to them. And some long-time family friends - a retired couple who have lived in the home they build together for the last 40 years - are renovating their kitchen for the first time since the home was built. They asked me to come over with some samples and help them figure out what they needed. "We really like your lights better than anything else we've seen," the wife told me as we sat in her kitchen together. Now that's a compliment.
I could go on and on with the stories. Over 100 of them at this point! But what matters is this:
The fact that we remember almost all of our customers' first names, and what we built for them; and that we get to spend quality time with many of them - oyster roasts, their children's birthday parties, dinner together on a chilly evening - really speaks to us that this is the way business should be. You like this product, and you deal with us - the folks who make that product. We're happy to help, and want you to love what you buy. To feel like you have invested your hard-earned dollar well, and have something that you're not going to throw away when the trends and styles change, because heart and soul went into this product you just bought and helped design. Plus we care. We care about what we're making, and we care about you. Just having the opportunity to care - for that we are thankful.
I may not have the opportunity to write much more this month - we have lots of lights to build - so I want to wish each and every one of you who takes the time to read a very wonderful Thanksgiving. Grace, Hope, and Peace to you all.