I want to give you a deeper understanding of how I came to do the work of making these talismans and, more importantly, how I came to know that you are infinitely braver and stronger than you know. If you haven’t yet, and would like to, read from the beginning of my story, starting with Makers Gonna Make.
get a “real job”
After a lawsuit and the end of the Suburban Outlaws, I was advised to throw in the towel and get a “real job.” Instead, I made a pact with myself to work only in creative capacities from now on. The divorce was final, my business was gone and HELL to the NO was I gonna give up. I doubled down. I once again, turned inward, listening closely to the whispers of my heart. Thanks to craigslist and a tip from a friend, I got two part-time jobs. The women I worked with both at the flower shop and the farmers market became my lifeline as I tried to understand how to stand up again.
My gut told me to work with my hands, to make, to create.
I also rented a studio space downtown. When I was handed the key to that studio it felt like I was being handed the key to a new world. The studio was an old funeral home that a crew of local artists took over. The embalming room was in the basement and it had a brochure tacked on the wall to help you pick the lining for yours or your loved one’s casket (let it be known, glitter hot pink casket lining is my #1 choice.)
I found my voice there. I found a space to breathe and try things without fear of failure. No one was watching me, judging me. I’d not experienced a place like that before where even if people looked at your work and said something about it, it was from kindness and curiosity. I would leave post-its on other artist’s doors asking for feedback when I didn’t feel like a piece was working and no one batted an eye when I laid in the floor painting and crying my eyes out.
To put it in context, in my marital home, my work was misunderstood and valueless, then it was used against me during the custody battle in an effort to prove I was threatening, unfit, and scary. To go from that, to this space that felt safe to explore and express myself, was heaven sent.
I kept working and healing when a dear friend mentioned that I would be a good stylist. I hadn’t heard of that job, but I totally agreed! She hired me for a few jobs to get me started and helped me put together a portfolio of work that I could shop around to ad agencies. I was working as a professional creative, I was a stylist for commercial photography. My natural gifts were finding an outlet! I was getting paid to make things look pretty, but, still… I longed to put something into the world that was mine. I still felt the ol’ outlaw fire burning in me and started to listen to it again.
As I’m doodling, wondering what new form this fire will produce, I came across a photo of my grandfather, Earl, and his car. I am the most brave and the most confident 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, try it.”
This spirit, this knowing that I could DO IT woke up in me and I thought of his bandanas. He always has one in his back pocket. I used to sneak and grab them and hold it, willing all his bravery and strength into my being.
Bandanas… I can make bandanas, I can dye them so the colors would be perfect. I could wash them several times so they could feel like the ones you find in a vintage store and in my grandfather’s drawer. I could create that feeling for myself and others!
It was the same message, y’all. With the same passion, the same purpose, I felt SO sure of, I made my way to another form to bring to the world.