The proverbial “they” say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I am convinced they are right. The journey towards being a creative type for me has been one that has continually involved being surrounded by good people. At the age of twenty-three this has been a relatively short journey, but has been filled with valuable lessons and the conversation of good people.
The journey started on our family farm in the tiny rural community of Centertown, which is in Western Kentucky. Those years were filled with days spent in my Aunt June’s kitchen, in the garden with my grandfather, and in the pumpkin patch with whoever would force me to hoe, or weed, or fertilize, this was usually my dad. These people not only taught the value of hard work daily, but also of the importance of being creative. The farm was established in the late 1700s and has always served as a reminder of the family heritage that is rooted in that sandy clay earth. The years in Aunt June’s kitchen didn’t just teach me how to make the perfect Red Velvet cake, along with the gardens, and the farm, and the history they planted the seed for the business I run today. Without the farm and the family I would have never understood the importance of small towns, heritage, or the old-fashioned values that I strive to represent daily. I am a firm believer that drawing inspiration from the past is the catalyst for moving into a brighter future.
Scenes of church potlucks, BINGO games at Christmas, fall festivals at school, trips to my grandparents, where chocolate cake and rummaging through the basement were the norm, family vacations to national parks and tropical places, and early mornings at the local OC Cafe with my aunt, Linda, were the times that nurtured the creative spirit in me. The early morning breakfast conversations transitioned into a massive business that would work to save small-town America and to advocate for artisans everywhere. I don’t think Linda or I ever imagined what we had created at that cafe. Through it all she has been my sounding board, devils advocate, and of course tree climbing, property trespassing, and photo adventuring companion. In those adventures we had unknowingly started to build the frame work for the brand I would soon launch. With a fear of heights conquered it was soon time to put my fears of being truly creative aside and jump into what we are doing today.
I never would have thought that I along with my team, would be running a national company while still in college, but that is the mysterious ways of the universe for you. Together we have experienced the highs and lows of being a creative type and business owner. We have journeyed through burning out when times get rough and money gets tight. Together we have gone in and out of focus as we have been distracted by school or by problems caused by rapid growth, each time looking at why the three of us, along with my aunt, and my staff, came together to start this originally, to truly remember that living an authentic life is the key. Of course, we come together to celebrate finding a like minded individual to join us on our journey. We join together to celebrate the highs and, to make it through and learn from, the lows.
I am a firm believer in three universal truths to good living — good food, good conversation, and living an authentic life. Staying true to yourself is certainly of great importance, once you start to go away from your original vision things only go downhill from there. I am also a believer that one must be willing to admit their mistakes and not be afraid to admit your faults. I know I have no trouble admitting I can’t use a glue gun and am as far from crafty as one can get. The most important key in my opinion is to surround yourself with people who will join you on this journey. The people that will join you in the passenger seat while you drive down the backroads listening to Miranda Lambert will be those who help you be your most creative. Together lets journey to a small town cafe, have a slice of chocolate pie—no meringue—and have a wonderful conversation. Don’t forget to bring your camera.