The piece I found in another old barn that became the fountain head so to speak, of our barn when you enter.
photo credit emcee studio
For those of you who have followed us from the very beginning, you know that there is a “that girl” behind me who helped bring my “left of center” idea into a reality. That girl who has run small businesses in her past and the girl who knew how to field all of my crazy thoughts and bring them to action. She had a huge knowledge base about EIN numbers, tax ID numbers, starting an LLC and all of the paperwork issues that one must do to start a business. She helped me through all of that. After sitting down with her to show her all of the Blogs and websites I had been following and announcing to her that I wanted to do this too and the woman I wanted to design the website with was Sara Duckett of www.Sadieolive.com, she said, “you can do this and this is what we need to do.” After telling her that I thought the barn would be complete if we added new merchandise in the style and the aesthetic of all the old goodies I had collected, she asked, “What were you thinking?” That is always a dangerous question to ask me. I promptly (well maybe not promptly but a little later) produced notebooks of a vast array of products and home accessories that I had come across in my various shopping trips to add to our new home as well as files of tear sheets that I had torn photos out of in magazines (you should see my tear sheet files.) “How does one go about ordering this kind of product?” I asked her. “I heard that Atlanta is the best place to go.” She responded that she always went to the New York Now Show when she bought for her clothing store so she registered me for the NYC show.
I went up there shortly thereafter and will never forget placing my first wholesale order of these fabulous blown out, hand painted eggs that were handcrafted in Hungary and calling her to tell her that I had placed my first order. I most likely will never forget that first order for two reasons; it was my first order placed and no one else embraced my love of these fragile works of art, especially as we unpacked them after shipping from such a distance and half of them had arrived smashed! I found out that I LOVED picking out new product that I thought others might enjoy just as much as I LOVE perusing the antique stores, flea markets and fields, where I handpicked the old stuff. I also loved the fact that I felt like an adult on my trip. An honest to goodness adult who was making decisions and conversing with other adults, not about her kids but business.
She helped me through establishing accounts with the vendors who I had seen but had not ordered from, once back home. She helped me unpack the merch as it arrived, box after box. I dragged her along on some picking trips for it was much more fun to do some of my picking with a friend. We expanded our horizons. She reacted to each and every “light bulb moment of mine” with a positive, this is how we do it attitude. We traveled to the International Home and Gift show in Atlanta, I booked trailers in Brimfield Massachusetts so we could attend the famous Brimfield Flea Market. After dragging my husband and a couple of my sons here and there to a phenomenal barn in Virginia, she accompanied me there as well. She has been my cheerleader and supporter of my vision through countless sales, staffing issues, late nights, trailer breakdowns, moving furniture and she offered plain old camaraderie of the girlfriend kind that we as women all need in this world.
Most of you have seen her behind our counter in the barn, where she runs that area. I have been known to be pretty opinionated in the set up of the vignettes in the barn. Okay, I am totally obsessive in the setting up of the vignettes in the barn. For there is a vision in my head of what I want the finished product to look like and moving an object a slight three inches to the right at an angle really does make a difference. Sorry for the digression, but the cash counter area as she likes to call it, is all hers. Her name is Chris and that is what brought me to the penning of this post. Her name is Chris, my husband’s name is Chris and my oldest son’s name is Chris. This can create for pretty confusing banter amongst us all, thus nicknames have emerged to cut down on the confusion; hubby, which is obvious, Christopher for the son and Stoner for the girlfriend who married a Stoner…this is going nowhere fast so let me explain. Chris Stoner is her full married name. Given that it might create a little confusion if we refer to her as “Stoner,” when in public, she has remained Chris and a vital team member of Life’s Patina, due to the fact that she has learned the skill of measuring by using ones body.
As my little barn business has grown and Chris continues to work her two full time jobs as a mom to two beautiful daughters, who you have seen helping out behind the counter and a realtor, and I juggle my family, this little farm and my full time barn business, we knew we needed another full time pair of hands. To add to the confusion of the name game in the barn, we had to hire someone who could both deal with that confusion in an unflappable way and add to it at the same time… so we hired Maggie. We are both Margarets, she Margaret Elizabeth and me Margaret Rose. She is nicknamed Maggie, which I wish I had been nicknamed instead of Midge and then Meg. Her name was her best attribute when looking at her credentials, for we knew this would confuse our customers and clients even more so, than the multitude of Chris’ we refer to on a daily basis. Just kidding folks, but we have had more than our fair share of customers tell us that they emailed or spoke with Maggie, but that I am Meg so who did they email or speak with? Thus eliciting the phrase, “Who the heck is Maggie?”
Maggie and Meg at Ladies Hat Day in Devon ~ photo credit Brenda Carpenter
The prerequisite of our new team member would be just that, a person who could adapt to whatever the circumstance needed or whatever task had to be completed that day, be it moving or cleaning furniture, unpacking and pricing new merchandise, creating and brainstorming new material or ideas, or working on social media and promotional material. A team player, at the risk of sounding cliche, who brought her talent to balance and blend in with the talents that each of us brings to the table. She being younger than Chris and I, brings an updated perspective to our vision; the importance of social media, her skills in Photo shop, graphics, love of vintage and her experience as a handbag and shoe buyer for Urban. She brings to us with the last skill set, a higher level of fashion for while I love to spend hours in old dusty places, visits to the clothing stores for me, are literally left in the the dust unless absolutely necessary two or three times a year. Maggie has all of the previous mentioned attributes and more. She smiles through the grime and her positive,” we’ve got this” attitude is contagious. We are certain, a more valuable team player could not be found!
She has the uncanny ability to only need food while in action and does not take a lunch hour…a woman after my own heart.
She is willing to take the road less traveled when searching for our treasures.
Jeeze….I am so gosh darn long winded! My apologies and gratitude for those of you who are still reading this. I always intend to write cute short little missives, to the point, that capture and hold your attention, and instead… I write chapters. I think very deeply and my point in spewing this all out, is that there is power behind women, and power behind woman who support other women. Our girlfriends, our sisters, our moms, all have lifted us up and carried us through the hard times. They keep us afloat, sometimes when we think we might drown. This is not to discount the men we have in our lives but the relationships we have with other women go deep, or should go deep. We laugh, cry, commiserate, relate, celebrate and make life that much sweeter… together. I have had other girlfriends step in and help out in this journey of mine, both with my family and this business. All with no reward except that of being together, probably the highest reward of all. We lean on each other and draw strength from each other, sometimes even when no words are spoken.
To celebrate with our girlfriends, we are opening the barn one more time this summer season to send Maggie off to her wedding day next weekend in a celebratory fashion. It is no wonder that she is marrying Ben, a part time but big results, all around team player at Life’s Patina. A more perfectly suited couple would be hard to find!
Light fare, sweet treats and some fresh summer libations will be served all day long. Who does’t like an impromptu reason to gather, engage in conversation and celebrate life’s occassions? Of course there will be shopping but the main reason to get together is to celebrate the Maggies’ and the Chris’ that we have in our lives.
Margaux St. Ledger of Fleur de Lis Florals created her magic on an old dress form and in an old chair frame that are two of our favorite vintages pieces. Margaux has been a floral team member recently and we love the addition her talent brings to what we do here. She certainly elevates my floral design!
Celebrate this Tuesday, June 28th from 9 am until 5pm
Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm
I leave you with two of my favorite quotes on friendship.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
~ C.S. Lewis,
“Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.”