work that fits with my life

yes, this is MY kitchen.  that is my dog, my dishwasher, and yes-- that is me.  as you may have noticed, i don't often like to be IN the picture.  i have written about that here.

here's the thing:

as much as i might like to stay in the background-- i am in the picture.  my whole business is all about who i am, what is important to me in the world, and how i want my life to be.

i have never been a person who follows convention-- at least not easily.  yes-- i worked hard in school and got the grades expected of me.  yes-- i graduated from college in four years.  yes-- i worked retail  after college long enough to decide to go to graduate school.  yes-- i got married in my twenties and had babies and learned how to make slipcovers for the hand-me-down furniture i collected to make my house feel like a home.  yes-- when my children were tiny i worked part-time so that i could be home with them as much as possible and bake bread.  all things that felt pretty typical for people of my age, race, and social class.

at the same time-- i have always been committed to feminism, to social justice-- particularly around issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality-- and i have a long-standing commitment to ecologically sustainable living, though my awareness of the size of my footprint has increased exponentially in recent years.   my education was unconventional in choice of institution (i went to hampshire college as an undergraduate) and in subject (my master's degree is in africana studies).  i teach college classes and write papers about issues of race and identity.  i am divorced, which, despite the fact that something like 50% of first marriages end in divorce, makes me feel i am on the outside of much of our culture's norms for white moms my age.  and-- given the opportunity-- i will go out dancing until 2am on the nights my kids are not with me.  not the average white girl from maine...

i am unconventional in the way i do business, as well.  i keep my books by hand on paper (much to my accountant's chagrin).  i hire people to work with me who i like spending time with-- and they often, over time, become my family.  i keep odd hours.  and in our most recent move i decided that the best location for my business is in an out-of-the-way place.  not your conventional retail thinking-- but that's just how i am.  

but more importantly i am unconventional in my actual process of making money.  as i said at a talk on doing green business some years ago:  i am a non-materialistic retailer.  i do not think that the value of things or money ever outweighs the value of people and relationships.  i will not knowingly exploit other human beings or the planet in order to make money.  that includes a commitment to both fair trade and local products that leads to long term relationship building and shared wealth.  in other words-- i like beautiful things, but not at the cost of other people.

i am fond of saying that my work is not work.  i spend time with people-- and make drawings and phone calls and run errands to the fabric store or the tile store or the paint store-- and help people with their houses.  i call people and ask them to bring more of their beautiful things to my shop.  my friends stop in during the day and have tea.  my daughters come to the shop after school and we all do our homework (theirs for school, mine for clients).  yes, there is stress involved-- deadlines, cash-flow issues, and the usual work things.  but it is a life that fits me.

'cause, like it or not,  i am in the picture.


1 comment:

shopgirl said...

thank you for posting!

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