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Introduction- Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm Michelle, the 39 year old mom of 3 (1 married daughter and 2 teen and tween sons) and the “Maw Maw Shelle” to 4 beautiful angels. I'm a true G.R.I.T.S. (Girl raised in the south), and New Orleans native who relocated to the beautiful serene “country” in St. Charles Parish after Katrina.
How did you get started making handmade items?
As long as I can remember I've always felt the need to create things. Only way back then I didn't know there was a name for the affliction. Had I known then what I know now, life would have been so much easier. My fondest memories of creating as a child was making things with my dad who's philosophy was “Why buy it if you can make it?” I remember crafting an igloo for a science project out of one of my mom's Tupperware bowls and lots of bars of Ivory soap. That was a craft fail! I've learned that sometimes it is better to just buy it! I also realized that I was a nonconformist and that my tastes bordered more on the wacky and eccentric, and if I wanted something to have that extra edge I had to create it myself. I remember my mom would lovingly sew these beautiful dresses for my sister and I every holiday. She would use the finest fabrics and heirloom laces, and meticulously sew these dresses. I remember her hand embroidering designs and hand hemming the dresses. I also remember me literally destroying them to add my own special flair or touch to them. As I look back now, I can see why she thought that I was crazy...but then again, who in their right mind bypasses an Ivy League education to become a florist?
What is your favorite item to make? I love making my handbags. I don't use patterns, everything is cut free-handed, and I guess on what size or shape I want to create. When I begin, I have no idea what the finished product will look like. So each one that I create is definitely a OOAK. I love watching the design grow into fruition.
What is your favorite food from Louisiana?
My favorite foods without a doubt are crab-meat stuffed shrimp and beignets from Cafe du Monde.
The reason that I create now is because it is what my dad calls my occupational therapy. I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and it sort of stopped me from enjoying the things that I liked best. Especially like working outside of my home. So rather than letting it get me down, I found other things to enjoy. I began creating things using my two favorite mediums, paper and fabric. I would create handbags as thank you gifts for the nurses and other staff that I would encounter during doctor's visits and hospital stays. Soon everyone began asking me to create bags for them. I enjoyed making them so much that I had to be forced to take payment. As I became more inspired, I also became in my mind less ill. From there a new business was born.
The graphic design section of my shop began because I enjoy playing with paper. Some days I can't make it to any of my sewing machines, but I always make it to my computer and my laser printer. I love designing new labels and stationery because I hate seeing blank paper. I have this wanton desire to rescue blank paper and give it personality.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typically day begins with a coffee/breakfast meeting with my “boss”, my tween son Delles. He became the majority shareholder of the company after purchasing 25 cents worth of stock. Each morning while he waits for the school bus we choose a color, theme, and design of the the day. While he's at school, I use those elements to create 2 new things while he's at school. I also fill any orders that I may have, all while doing the typical household duties.
If you could tell someone anything about Louisiana, what would you tell them?
I would stand on the highest peak in the world and rave about Louisiana. There's no place like it. The people are amazing, the food is divine, and the blend of cultures is phenomenal. We have some of the most caring and understanding people in Louisiana. We see past race, religion, and politics. Only in Louisiana could a security guard be a Mardi Gras Indian chief, a city coroner a jazz musician, and a college professor an in-drag burlesque dancer and no one bats an eye. That's what I love... we don't judge because we have a deep affinity for one another. There's something special that runs through Louisianans' blood, we know how to get by and make something from nothing. Whether it's a good pot of gumbo or Super Bowl champs out of Aints. This is a place where we really do care about your mama and them!
Everything in life happens for a reason. Your decision on how you deal with it determines your destiny. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade squeeze them into a Bloody Mary.
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