Today we are celebrating the 89th birthday of the person who inspired Jenni’s very first bandana: Grandpa Earl. Jenni shares her story best,
Growing up in West Virginia, I loved working in the garage with my grandpa, Earl. He always had a bandana tucked into his pocket that he'd use to wipe the sawdust off a piece of furniture he was building or clean his hands after coming out from under the hood of a car. He never said, "you're too young to help", or "you're a girl, so probably shouldn't run the drill press". When he wasn't looking, I would swipe that bandana and hold it, trying to channel all his strength and bravery into my being.
From that moment Jenni’s very first bandana, ‘be brave’, was born.
But the story isn’t as simple as that. Often the people that help us shine, and reach our full potential, don’t realize the role they play. Grandpa Earl provided an idea to Jenni: you can do anything. It wasn’t until years later that Jenni grabbed onto that truth, and ran with it.
Unfortunately, those years were tough--isn’t that how it goes a lot of the time? We’ve got to go through heck before we rise up from the ashes stronger than ever. That isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that Grandpa Earl’s encouragement wasn’t worth it. The people who help us shine the brightest remain with us no matter how much time has passed.
Years after the young Jenni was following her grandpa around his shop, she found herself in a new studio space, creating things again. She had witnessed the end of a marriage, the death of a company started with a friend, and life-threatening depression. But there she was, drawing and trying her best to shine bright. Who did she find? Well, Grandpa Earl of course:
As I'm doodling, wondering what new form this fire will produce, I came across a photo of my grandfather, Earl, and his car. The most brave and confident I've been is when I spend time with my papaw. He is a do-it kinda guy. don't sit around talking about it, let's do it! "you wanna learn to weld? Here's the machine, here's the rules, do it. I'll be right here. go on and try." this spirit, this knowing that I could DO IT woke up in me and I thought of his bandanas.
Happy Birthday, Earl. We’re celebrating how bright you shine, and how much that light illuminates everyone around you.