Pillow Talk

A Conversation with Leslie Leedy, Owner of Leslie & Co.

Today I would like to introduce you to Leslie Leedy, a multi-talented artist whose artful pillow creations are featured at LTD2, our Rowe location. I love a good pillow, not only for the design elements they bring to a room, but also, many times, for the messages and scenes and colors they depict. A pillow is huggable art to me!

Leslie is a hairdresser by trade and just recently added a very special member of her family to her team. She also tells me she is branching out in her business. We are proud to introduce you to Leslie Leedy, owner of Leslie & Co, and another wonderful member of our Dream Team!

Living the Dream,

Lynne

 

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“What’s your story?” Tell us about your family and where you are from.

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 I come from a family of artists – art and sewing have always been part of my life, from my grandmother’s carvings, pen & inks, and yarn work to my mother’s painting and quilts – but I have been working towards becoming a serious “wanna be” full-time creator within the last 10 years.

I’m originally from New Jersey but I say I grew up in Virginia, moving here when I was seventeen. The influences of my youth have help mold my love of art and marketing. Taking in the vibes of NYC are a large part of those influences.

I understand you are in business with your mother in law and that you are a hairdresser by trade. That’s an interesting combination.

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Leslie & Co. pillows just recently came to be when my mother-in-law moved in with my husband and me.  I casually mentioned my yearning to create some pillows. My mother-in-law was extremely excited to use some of her time and expertise and meticulous sewing talents.

As of now, Leslie & Co. is a small one person hair studio with a part-time home-based pillow factory (meaning my house is a mess).  The positive side of our recent move from Virginia Beach to this area, is the time I have had to explore my true passions.

Tell us about your company. How did LTD 7 come into play with your business?

Leslie & Co. pillows are new being sold at LTD 7.2 in Staunton off I-81. I feel this shop is a great fit for us as they attract many travelers from throughout the country. Also, the loyal shoppers to LTD 7’s sister store in another part of Staunton are encouraged to visit both locations.

I met Lynne, owner of LTD, by chance – I had been searching for a store in this area that I felt met the “fit” for our pillows and art.  I had a large bag of pillows in my vehicle.  I was making cold-calls…pillow peddling, I call it.  Lynne wasn’t quite sure if we were a fit, but I pushed until she gave me an, “Ok, let’s try it.”  The Rowe Rd. location seemed a great fit for me – everything from management to LTD7’s dream team seemed right.

 Do you dream of branching out? What are your long range plans?

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 I recognized the older I got, the more important my inner creative spirit drove me to become a more complete me. Leslie & Co. has recently dived into another creative avenue – recycling and painting furniture, and incorporating paints with fabrics and home décor to the pillow line. Things such as banners and vintage wallpaper art are all part of a whole vision

What would you like to share with dreamers like you? What one piece of advice would you say pushed you the furthest in your dream?

I read once that a true entrepreneur keeps moving toward a goal no matter how large or minimal it may seem to others. If your passion is real, the fruits of your labor will present themselves in a positive way for all the universe to enjoy.

 

 

 

Gone Loopy: A Stamp of Approval

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I hope you are enjoying our Featured Vendor Series as much as I am. Everyone has a story and unless you ask, it’s usually the case that we never know all we could know about a person. I just love getting to know more about our Dream Team members.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Bridget Hoerner, our very own “Gone Loopy” Jewelry vendor!

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What I love most about Bridget and her story is her incredible and genuine kindness. She is one of the strongest women I know. Her story is incredible and her faith is amazing. Her love and devotion to family is wider than any ocean and taller than any mountain. This love sets her apart for me, in addition to her huge talent. She is so gifted!

Just like the other vendors we have featured so far, Bridget sums up what we are all learning through these interviews: Perseverance, or never giving up is the key to achieving one’s dreams. Take a look at how one woman set her dream in motion, and opened a store!

Bridget shares this quote as one that has meaning to her. I couldn’t agree more.

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Let’s find out more. Below is Bridget, in her own words. Enjoy her story!

Living the Dream,

Lynne

Even though you express yourself through your work, our readers want to know:

How did you get started? “What’s your story?”

 For the first seven years of my childhood, I was abused in every way imaginable by my stepfather.  It is important for me to share that so that you all will understand the true lady behind Gone Loopy.  I learned that I was to never, ever, show emotion.  I had no way of expressing myself without brutally paying for it, no matter whether I was sad, happy, or, you name it.

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My mom, sister and I moved to Virginia, from Washington State, when I was seven with my grandparents, right after my stepfather was incarcerated.  My grandpa had just retired and they decided to move back “home,” which is right here in Virginia.

Once we were back in Virginia, it was like I stepped into a whole new world.
I was able to stay outside and enjoy beauty all around me…God’s artwork.  My mom started making crafts here and there and I started becoming interested in them and would help her on occasion.  When I was in elementary school, my teachers started taking interest in my artistic abilities and entered me in contests.  I won several and it helped to boost my confidence in myself. These contests helped me to feel like I really did have a purpose, even though up until that time I very much had low self-esteem.  Creating became a catharsis for me. I soon learned that I could express myself and completely forget about the outside world, and that people appreciated what I did.

In high school, I had an art teacher who called my mom and told her she thought I was special and that I had hidden talent that she wanted to see blossom. She wanted to award me a grant to go study with adults in a fused glass jewelry class.  Other than embroidery floss friendship bracelets, this was the only jewelry I had made up to this point.  I continued for many years making crafts for family members and with my children.

While I was in college, I decided to make a bracelet for a very good friend of mine.  I found it to be very therapeutic.  The reaction from everyone that saw it was very encouraging, so I began making lots of jewelry, even though I didn’t wear any.

 

Eventually my jewelry making evolved into metal stamping on silverware.  This, I decided, was the most perfect thing in the world.  I always loved words and quotes, especially those of encouragement.  So being able to create something beautiful and being able to stamp a word or phrase that could touch someone sent me over the moon.  I’ve been addicted ever since.

 

Tell us about your family.

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I met my husband, Brandon, or “Mr. Gone Loopy” as some call him, when I was seventeen and married him fresh out of high school at eighteen years of age.  I look back now and think, “What were we thinking and how on Earth did we think we could survive?”  Shortly after, we had our oldest child, Sebrina, and then ten and a half months later, our son, Dalton, was born.

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A few years later I was told that it was good I already had children, because there was no medically possible way I could have more, due to being eaten up with endometriosis.  Many, many surgeries, lots of complications, and problems ensued.  We had not planned on any more children, but somehow being told you are unable to have children made me feel broken.  When Sebrina was six, I gave birth to our third child, Kaitlyn.  She was a complete surprise to us as well as to my doctors.  God knew we would need her to complete our family.

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Now, Sebrina is twenty-two years old, and she has just married her best friend. They have given us the greatest gift, a granddaughter. She is such a blessing.  Dalton is now twenty-one, and Kaitlyn is sixteen.  Brandon and I have been married for twenty-three years.

Is Gone Loopy a full time job? When did you make it full time? Were there days when you regretted your decision? Would you ever “go back?”

Yes, Gone Loopy is very much a full time job.  Not only do I run my store each day, but Brandon and I also work every night and each morning creating our handmade silverware items.

January 31, 2012, I met with the landlord of the building I am currently in and discussed rent, etc.  After talking with my husband when I got home, I decided to go for it. I was still teaching special education in the middle school setting at the time.  Brandon and Sebrina would take turns running the store, starting March 1, 2012, until I would get off from school each day.  I would then run it for a few hours and go home and make more product.

In May of that same year, my grandpa had his first stroke.  He needed full time, 24 hours a day care, and it was then that I decided that at the end of the school year I was going to resign and live my dream full time.

I do not regret resigning from teaching.  I have many special students that have kept in touch with me and they and their parents come to visit me often.  I am a true believer that things happen for a reason.  Right now, my purpose is to keep being the “Loopy Lady,” offering hope and encouragement through my own therapeutic artwork.

How did you come up with the name Gone Loopy?

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The name “Gone Loopy” came from a conversation I was had with my mother-in-law one day while we were in Pennsylvania visiting with her.  In order to help your readers understand the conversation with my mother-in- law, I will share a bit of background information.

I was going to college full time, raising my little family, substitute teaching, wearing many hats in my church, and going through some pretty scary times.  My grandfather had just suffered a massive heart attack and had been flown to UVA not too long before my visit with my mother in law. My youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, was having serious health problems and the doctors were even talking cancer at the time.  I was having trouble with anxiety in a major way and I was concerned that it was going to keep me from passing my classes and moving on in college.

I was sitting in my mother-in-law’s “beach room” as she called it, making jewelry.  She came in to talk to me and check up on me.  After asking about numerous test results for both my grandpa, and Kaity, my school work, and all the other things I had going on at the time, she asked, “Bridget, how on earth are you going to keep from going loopy?’  I chuckled and replied, “I’m doing it right now.” I then followed it up with, “Maybe someday I will open up my very own shop and call it just that.”  At the time, that idea felt far from any possible reality.

 

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Tell us about your store. You sell many things. What and where?

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 My store recently expanded this year. I was able to move into the front of the building, which is a much larger space.  We sell anything from clothing, and jewelry, to furniture, and antiques.  The move has given us room for Brandon to shine. He is a very talented carpenter and has not only built multimillion dollar homes, but has built some pretty amazing furniture.

You never know what you will find at Gone Loopy.  We have a few consignors that are local artists and we are constantly bringing in new inventory.

We are located in Churchville at 3816 Churchville Ave., Churchville, VA 24421.

Is there anything you want to do that for now you are prevented from doing? Did your dream get bigger or shrink over the years? Do you dream of branching out?

 Right now, with having a new grandbaby and getting through the planning of my daughter’s wedding, I am comfortable where we are.  I feel like I haven’t had a chance to really get used to our new space yet.

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A few years back before I opened my shop, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. I almost didn’t make it.  I had a video robotic thoracic surgery to remove my thymus gland, which ultimately ended up saving my life.  Myasthenia Gravis effects every muscle of my body. I had trouble breathing, swallowing, walking, talking-you name it.  I stopped making jewelry altogether.  I almost sold all of my jewelry making supplies, but Brandon had the wisdom to tell me to just put them away and not get rid of them.

Exactly a year prior to the day that I met my landlord, I had surgery.  The summer that I resigned, I went into full medical remission. I feel abundantly blessed to be here today and to be able to continue to do what I love.

I don’t have plans written in stone for the future, but I am excited to see what happens next.  My youngest daughter has stated that someday she wants her own Gone Loopy store and that her store will compete with the sales of my store.

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How did LTD 7 come into your work?

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Lynne contacted me through email and told me she had seen my work and that she thought it would fit well in her markets.  I signed up for my first Market with LTD7 and was blown away by the response from customers and my emptied booth.

Lynne then asked if I would be interested in being a consignor or vendor in her shop.  I was at the time afraid to become a vendor, because I had just taken a huge step in opening up my own shop.  It wasn’t until later when she asked me again that I decided it was time.  I shortly went from being a vendor in not one, but two, of her shops and I have not regretted one minute of it.  The Dream Team is very much family.  I am proud to be a part of LTD7 and the Dream Team.

What was the biggest obstacle to pursuing this dream of yours? Has that changed over the years? In what way?

My biggest obstacle was myself.  With my background, I had low self-esteem.  Plus, with getting married young and starting a family early, we weren’t exactly set up for taking risks starting businesses and such.

After making it through Myasthenia Gravis, it was like I had a whole new lease on life.  Life is very short.  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.  I decided I no longer wanted to be a “people pleaser,” desperately trying to live my life the way everyone thought my life should be lived.  I didn’t want to be an eighty-year-old lady, laying in my bed saying, “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”  Especially after I have told my children to never do that.

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My husband, children, friends, and customers have helped me realize that even though things come natural to me, I have talent that not everyone has and that I should have some confidence in myself.  I will always be modest, but the idea that I have talent is one I am learning to accept.

What is the strangest request you have ever received? What is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to you while working/selling? 

My grandpa decided to order alligator teeth from Louisiana after watching Swamp People.  He then gave me these teeth and expected me to make them into necklaces and sell them in my store.  They were very peculiar looking.  I used them and believe it or not, sold quite a lot of them in my shop.

The most unusual thing that has ever happened while working in my shop was the first Fall that I was open.  A lady came into my shop and I did my standard cheerful, “Hello, how are you?” She then asked, “Do you sell marijuana or pills up in here?”  I laughed at first because I thought she was joking.  She became very angry and started shouting, “I thought I hit the jackpot. I drove up through here and saw Gone Loopy on the sign and the other business sign that said, Out on a Limb and, “YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU DON’T HAVE PILLS OR MARIJUANA?”  I said “No ma’am,” very politely, and she said, “Well I’ve have never!” Then, she slammed the door and took off.  Brandon and I immediately looked at each other like, “Did that just happen?”

Do you have any long range plans? Such as to grow in a new or different direction?

Right now my long range plans are to keep doing what I do; to always be true to myself, and to my customers.  My business is constantly evolving because I am always coming up with fresh, new ideas.  I plan to continue to pass along my skills to my daughter, and maybe someday my granddaughter, so that Gone Loopy will live on, long after I am gone.

I have had an idea brewing in my mind for quite some time and just recently made a prototype.  I am creating blessing bracelets to randomly leave in places for someone who may need it. They can find it or pass it on to someone who does need it.  The bracelets will all have an encouraging word or phrase on them.  I’m hoping to be able to hear from some of the recipients to see how far they travel.  Encouragement is huge to me.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through or what you will go through, if you have encouragement and support, you can make it over your mountains a heck of a lot easier.

What would you like to share with dreamers like you? What one piece of advice would you say pushed you the furthest in your dream?


I would say never give up on yourself or your dreams.  Never live your life for someone else.  Live for you, and your dreams.  Don’t be that little old lady at the end of her life who is filled with regrets.  Don’t let an empty account dictate your dreams either.  Things have a way of working out.  I started with little to nothing and I’m still going strong.

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When I was deciding whether to open up my shop or not, my husband said, “Dear, it’s like this, if you don’t try, you will never know and you will always wonder.  If you try and it fails, at least you will know.  If you try and it is successful, then great!”  That has helped me over and over.  I constantly tell myself that I need to keep pushing or I will never know.

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The other thing that has pushed me is the naysayers.  Growing up I was constantly told I wouldn’t amount to anything or that I threw away everything by getting married and not going to college.  It has given me a determination to keep pressing forward, keep being myself and living my dream, and to keep dreaming bigger and bigger.  The sky is the limit! I guess you could say I live up to the meaning of my name: Bridget means a woman of resolute strength, marked by determination.

 

One Scent Sational Woman

Call her the Poo Lady, call her “Miss Sunshine”, call her  our “game for anything” gal, she is our beloved Wendi, a joy to behold, source of so many smiles, a talented and multi-faceted phenom-a- woman empire. Enjoy a special glimpse into the life of dear, Wendi B.True.  She has her own artistic bend, a special range of products and that mysterious & specialized scent we all know and love.

Today we feature a woman with a true heart of gold and one of LTD 7’s biggest team players: A vendor at both of our locations, Wendi B. True.

Enjoy!

Living the Dream,

Lynne

 

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Even though you express yourself through your work, our readers want to know:

How did you get started? “What’s your story?”

 My Dad loved photography.  For the first ten years of my life, there was always a Polaroid camera sitting on the china cabinet, loaded and ready so we wouldn’t miss “that moment.”  When Dad traveled, he would use his 35mm camera and shoot slides.  Upon his return home, I would sit down with him in the kitchen and watch him project each image on the dining room wall. He would tell me where each picture was taken and then he would critique his images.  I found the whole process fascinating!

I carried my Fisher Price camera with me everywhere.  My father passed away when I was 10 years old of a massive heart attack, but his love of photography quickly turned into my passion as I hit my high school years.  I joined the yearbook staff and took photo journalism.  I was living the dream! The school furnished me with an amazing camera, film, and I got to attend every event the school had and capture it on film.

“Santa” bought me my first 35mm camera, flash and zoom lenses my freshman year in high school.  The summer between my Sophomore and Junior year, Mr. Burdick, our Principal, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in learning how to operate a dark room.  Of course,  I said, “Yes!”  The school purchased all the needed supplies and allowed me access to the dark room that was already set up in the AG department.

I grew and learned so much those last two years in high school.  Being able to take my work from raw material to finished product was such an amazing feeling.  I went on to Blue Ridge Community College where I became a photographer for the SCA.  I photographed and sent to press the very first, “People and Places of BRCC,”  a calendar of students in a variety of places in and around the communities that serve the school.

From there, I went on to work at Clemmer Photography, running the dark room, and assisting on photo shoots and weddings. I learned to frame and cut mats. Then I went to Gitchell’s, F-Stop, and eventually I opened my own business.  In my prime, I photographed over 40 weddings in one year, photographed more sports teams than I can remember, took photos for UVA alumni weekend formals, Spinsters, and all of the individual class photos for Mary Baldwin College’s yearbook, and did the photography for one of Dr. Fox’s huge capital campaigns. I also photographed her Christmas card for three seasons. The list goes on and on… Staunton has been very good to me.

 Is this a full time job? Do you think some day it will be?

 This is not my full time job.  At one time it was, but the timing was wrong.  I was a single Mom, with two small children and it only took 3 years to realize that owning my own business was not the best option for my family.  I do not see it becoming full time again until I can retire from my current Marketing profession.

You are an animal lover. How did you become so attached/interested in animals? I understand you have a service animal. That is a special bond. Please explain.

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 I have always loved being around animals. To this day, I still want a Monkey.  Growing up, I had a Persian cat, named Sam.  He lived to be 19 years old.  I had fish, lizards, hamsters, hermit crabs, and a couple of dogs.

I have a service dog named Artemis.  It is very hard to describe the amazing bond she and I have.  I adopted her when she was 4 months old.  We started training together and once she completed her intermediate training, she began spending every moment with me….and  I mean-every moment. She went to the bathroom with me, went to work, shopping, sleeping-you name it-she was there.  She “learned” me, basically.

After a lot of training and “together” time, she learned to detect if my heart rate was too high or too low or if my blood pressure was too high or too low and she can also detect my blood sugar levels.  I recently got a pacemaker and she was in the hospital bed with until they wheeled me into the procedure room. She was waiting to get back in bed with me as soon as I was wheeled out.  We are a team.  I look after her and she takes care of me. 

What else do you do? Why license plate art? That sounds interesting. Is there a plate you don’t have and want? Where do you get them?

License plate art just kinda happened.  I started by purchasing a few plates at local yard sales, then it grew into bulk ebay purchases, because the demand became far greater than what was available locally.  I make key chains and signs on old barn wood. I have also offered license plate coozies and bracelets.  Some letters are much harder to find than others and you really have to search to find them. I get creative sometimes: a “7” turned upside down can be an “L,” in a pinch.

 Tell us about your letter photography? That is very specialized. What made you become interested in that genre?

Lynne Breeden inspired my letter photography.  She called me one day and said, “Hey, what do you think of this?” and told me about the idea.  I said, “Let me try.”  Then the bug bit me! I loved it!  It was not uncommon for me to head downtown or to a college campus and get lost for hours looking at the architecture and roaming around to find “letters” hidden in the most bizarre places.  I can easily say that not one week goes by that I don’t add letters to my collection.  Even my kids love finding them and telling me about them.  The best was when my daughter was a freshman in college; one morning, I get a text from her with an attachment and a note saying” “Hey Mom, my waffle looked like a great ‘E’ this morning. Thought you could use it.”  I did use it and I still do.

 How did LTD 7 come into your work?

 I met Lynne through The MaDee Project and we became friends.  She knew my work ethic and my drive in the entreprenurial world.  She called me one day and asked if I was interested in being part of a new adventure she was about to embark on. Without hesitation or even knowing what she was going to do, I said, “Yes!”

Do you ever encounter resistance from the public, taking pictures, or with your animals?

The biggest resistance I encounter with taking photos is that people in general hate to have their photo taken. I try to explain to them that it only takes a second and if they keep throwing their hand in front of their face it only prolongs the inevitable and gives me a challenge to get their photograph. Landscapes and still life photos are much easier.

I have a million stories I could tell you about Artemis and me in public.  People just go bonkers when they see an animal in a store or a restaurant.  Ok, I know it is out of the norm, but we have all seen dogs before, so why do most folks act as though it is their first time ever seeing a four legged creature?  One of the best stories I guess is when the greeter at Applebee’s in Suffolk asked me if I needed a Braille menu.  There are a lot of misconception about service dogs.  They do much more than help the blind.

What is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to you while working?

The most unusual thing that has ever happened to me while working happened during a wedding, many years ago.  We had just arrived at the reception after a beautiful ceremony at a nearby church.  Everyone was milling about, getting their seats and such.  The bride and groom came in, were announced, and things were going well.  But then, one of the guests comes up to the groom and states, very jolly and bright, that this wedding was “…much better than the groom’s first and he hopes this one is his last.”  Well, guess what?  The bride did not know her husband had ever been married before!  A huge upset happened and the bride and groom left and the reception was ended.  No cake, no nothing.  That is still the craziest thing I have witnessed on a job, to date.

You have a nickname…the poo lady. Can you tell us about that?

I am the POO lady.  Funny though.  Until, I became the POO lady, I frowned upon folks talking about their bathroom #2 escapades and especially jokes of such nature.  Then I saw a Poo Pourri ad.  I thought, “How fantastic!”

Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know.

What a great jingle! What a wonderful way to “cut” down on all of those #2 smell jokes. Our customers loved it!  Then I became obsessed with POO.  I have carried note pads, made from elephant poo; and sold elf poo, snowman poo, and reindeer poo mints at the holidays. Lynne has had to veto quite a few of my POO items.  She has had to be the voice of reason or I would have the most bazaar poo items that are at best, “tacky.”  (Thanks, Lynne, for keeping me in check.)  But fear not, I am always on the look out for the best POO items.  

What would you like to share with dreamers like you? What one piece of advice would you say pushed you the furthest in this dream?

To all of my dreamer friends out there:  Stay focused and never loose sight of your dreams.  Strive everyday to do one thing, be it 1 minute or most of the day, toward your passion and dreams.  Surround yourself with like-minded people and get rid of the ‘Negative Nellies’ in your life; there is no place for them on your path to success.

The one idea and inspiration that has stuck in my mind the longest, came from an older man, over 25 years ago, and I don’t even know his name. He said to me, “I barely know you, but I know that whatever you decide to do in life, you will be successful. Follow your dreams.”  I found it odd at the time, but as the years pass, I find myself remembering his words and thinking, “I can do it.”

Other items carried by Wendi: Locally made dog treats(Augusta), gourmet dog bakery (Augusta) treats, Corkcicle (Rowe) and Swell bottles (both locations) Snow-to-go

 

 

 

The Tale of the Shamrock

 

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Today’s featured vendor is a very special lady, a talent extraordinaire, and a wonderful person, both inside and out. Anyone would be pleased to call her “friend.” Her work never ceases to amaze me and is always inspiring.  I am so pleased to feature, Ms. Demetra Turner. Enjoy her story!

Living the Dream,

Lynne

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Even though you express yourself through your art, our readers would love to know more about you.

  1. Tell us where you are from, if you are married, any children, grandchildren.

I was born in Salem, Virginia. I now reside in Waynesboro. I am divorced and I have two wonderful grown boys that live in Dallas, Texas.
I also have a special little 6 year old in my life. His name is Sean, and I’m his “Mimi” and he is my heart!

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  1. What is your special dream business and how did you get started in it? What’s your “story?” When did you first know that you had a special gift?

 From the age of 3 I was interested in art. I used to draw family members on my chalkboard that my family raved about, so I quickly became “the artist in the family.” My mom was very good at sketching, although she never took it seriously, but whenever we had to wait at the bus station or in a doctor’s office she would give me a pad and pencil and we would sketch together, to keep me occupied.
At the age of five or six, I loved watching “The Jon Gnagy Show,” on our black and white TV. I watched it every time it came on. I was enthralled with the drawings he did, so that year my parents surprised me with my very own Jon Gnagy drawing set! I also loved “I Dream of Jeanie,” so I drew her a lot!

When I was in high school, my classmates would get me to draw their pets or their boyfriends or girlfriends and sometimes ask me to illustrate a story from class. I charged $5.00 each for those drawings. My first sales!

When I got married and started a family my art went on the back burner until 1989 when a friend and I were asked to hand paint some sweatshirts and canvas bags for The Belle Grae Inn’s gift shop. We divided them up and started painting, but my friend couldn’t finish hers and went to bed, so I stayed up all night long and finished all of them! I was tired, but I was driven! We delivered them on time the next day and got a nice check in return! I think that was my first realization that people might actually pay money for my art! It was a good feeling!

 2.Tell us about the variety of products you work with and what is your favorite.

 After the family drawings and high school portraits, I continued painting canvas bags and shirts, and I sold them all. But then, I discovered gourds! I bought some at a yard sale. They were moldy but I thought I would clean them up and set them around the house for decoration. After they sat on my porch for six months, I decided to paint on one and I hated it. I didn’t like the way the paint felt on it at all so I left them alone again for another six months. Eventually, I tried again and this time it was magic!

I painted everything from farm scenes to Santas and I decided to take them to my friend’s workplace. The ladies in the office went crazy over them and I sold $165 worth that day alone!

I painted gourds exclusively for a few years and then added slate into the mix. I especially liked the irregular nature of slate. It was like I could see what needed to be painted on it, from it’s shape alone.

For five years, in the mid 90’s, I hosted a Christmas Open House at my home in Middlebrook. We lived in the old Shamrock Farm home, up on a hill. I sent out 95 invitations the first year and by the 5th year the list had grown to over 500 people! People came from far and wide to enjoy the ambiance, eat the delicious food that my friend, Sheila Ishee, catered and buy my artwork!

  1. This is not a full time job for you. Do you think some day it will be? Why or why not? What is the biggest obstacle/hurdle you have to pursuing this special dream of yours?

I continued painting and did several local shows for a time and then went through some personal valleys and didn’t paint much at all for about eight years. Fast forward to several years ago, I decided to get serious about my work. I had started making jewelry and was now doing mixed media incorporating fabric and paper into my paintings. I was doing some shows again. Lynne Breeden contacted me after seeing my art on Etsy and asked me to be a vendor at The MaDee Project benefit! I said “YES!”

I eventually came on board with LTD 7.

 My mission on this earthly journey is to take this gift I’ve been given and use it to the best of my ability. My desire is that I will, one day, be able to do this full time. In my mind it already is full time, because I’m constantly thinking and creating. It never stops.

  1. Where does your inspiration come from?

I get inspiration from everything…everywhere! I can get lost for days on Pinterest!

  1. Is there a spiritual reference in your artwork?

 Many people don’t know this; I get asked frequently about the shamrock that I always put beside my name on my paintings. When all of this started with the gourds I was looking for a recognizable symbol that I could use, that would have a special meaning and would be easy to paint. I knew that the shamrock had been used in times past to explain the Trinity.  I wanted to give God the glory for blessing me, so every piece of art bears a tiny shamrock. It’s my way of recognizing His hand in all of this.


7. 
Tell us a story about the one item that a customer may have purchased or ordered that touched you in a way no other has.

There have been so many special moments with my products over the years! People come up to me all the time and tell me that they still hang my ornaments out each year or tell me a story where something I painted or created meant so much to them.

Just recently Anne Whitehouse, the manager at LTD 7.2, told me about a lady that came into the Rowe store and was looking a long time at one of my small mixed media paintings that had a quote on it. She told Anne that she had just come from burying her sister and with tears in her eyes said that quote reminded her of her sister so she bought the painting.  It’s moments like that that I’m most grateful for, knowing that the Lord is using this gift He’s given me to touch others lives. 

 8. How do you get your artwork out to various outlets? Do you have an agent, do you recommend another artist getting one and why?

 I think having an agent is certainly helpful for things like licensing but it’s not something that happens overnight and it’s not a “get rich quick” process, for sure! I think the exposure I get from having my work in LTD 7 and now, both locations of Absolutely Outer Banks in Nagshead, and Duck, North Carolina  makes me happy.

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My story of getting an agent goes like this: Mainline Art and Design, saw my art on Etsy, and they wanted to be my agent! Does this happen for real? I couldn’t believe it! I always thought this was something I had to pursue! I thought it was a hoax at first.

After I came down off my cloud and four long years later, I finally got a call from an international art licensing agency about a painting I had done of three witches around a cauldron. (I make canvas prints of it and have cards available at LTD 7). They wanted to mass produce that image and I was over the moon with excitement!

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They needed it to be a certain size and for some odd reason I could not send it to them in the size they needed! My agent tried, also unsuccessfully, and I even enlisted the help of a fellow vendor and her expertise-all to no avail.  I was beside myself. To make a very long story short, it didn’t work out and I was devastated. I had waited four long years for this and then nothing!

After I recovered from licking my wounds, I gave it all to the Lord. I realized that I had put way too much emphasis on that milestone and if it was going to happen, it would, when it was time. And wouldn’t you  know…the very next week my Frosty Friends snowman painting was licensed and was put on small and large garden flags and sold nationwide through Toland Home and Garden!

I learned a big lesson in that whole fiasco, and that was to keep my focus on what I’m supposed to be doing-creating-and the Lord will take care of the rest!

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I’ve since had another painting licensed by Manual Woodworkers and that image, Colorful Costa, was put on bedding, rugs and shower curtains.

 9. What is your favorite store for supplies?

 I’m always gathering supplies from Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Dick Blick, Etsy and even yard sales.

  1. What advice would you like to share with dreamers like you? What piece of wisdom or lesson learned would you say pushed you the furthest in your dream?

People tell me all the time that I’m so talented and they they don’t have any talent at all. I disagree! I believe the Lord gives all of us gifts. Your gift may not be artistic, but whatever it is,  it’s still a gift that’s just for you. If you have a passion in your heart for something, just do it! Even if it’s small or seems insignificant, just take that first step and don’t ever ever give up! Taking that step may just open up a world of possibility!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s see it “Once Again”

Continuing with our Featured Vendor Series this week, I’d like to introduce you to Carolyn Snell, Owner of “Once Again” and our very own LTD 7 distributor for Paint Couture products.  Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 3.27.12 PM ~ Aug-14
What I love most about Carolyn and her story is her hard working spirit, her faith and her great love of family. Take a look at how circumstances-being in the right place at the right time- played a role in her digging deeper into her passion. (Pictured below is Carolyn volunteering her time on a mission trip this year)

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Moreover, just like Mic of Mugshots Squared, last week’s featured artist, the funny thing about a passion and a dream, and the common thread, is that sometimes (most times) our passions and dreams follow us pretty much all of our lives. Conditions might not be ideal for a full time pursuit of our dream, but Carolyn is another wonderful example of the power of our passions and how the light inside us never dims, but instead compels us to be true to our heart’s passion and “live the dream.”

Let’s find out more. Below is Carolyn, in her own words. Enjoy her story!

Living the Dream,
Lynne

 1. Even though you express yourself through your work, our readers would love to know more about you. Tell us where you are from, if you are married, any children, grandchildren.

I am from the Lyndhurst area. I am married and have two wonderful boys and two grandbabies, Jackson and Madelyn. My youngest son will be married next year and then I will have two more grandchildren, Chloe and Ayden.

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  1. What is your special dream business and how did you get started in it? What’s your “story?”

Ever since I took a class in high school, I have enjoyed “refurbishing” furniture in one way or another. I was introduced to painting furniture when I took a class entitled “Paint Your Own Piece.” Then, about two years ago, I met Lynne when my son and his girlfriend took a class with her, using Paint Couture.

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  1. This is not a full time job for you. Do you think some day it will be? Why or why not?

I hope that someday my business will be at a level where it would be my only job. I have just taken a BIG leap of faith and will be switching to part-time in my 30 year career as a licensed optician to care for my mother more and allow me more time to chase my dream make it a full time reality. 

  1. You are the distributor for Paint Couture. What makes this paint special to you? Won’t just any furniture paint do? Why or why not?

 I love Paint Couture because of the diverse finishes that can be achieved. It is a very beautiful paint that, once dry, is extremely durable. I like the fact that it is a “system of products” designed to work together to achieve the finish you desire. You can go “primitive,” “elegant,” or “shabby chic.” I also like the fact that you don’t have to strip off the previous finish. All you have to do is clean it well and then you can begin!

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  1. What would you most like to get your hands on for renovation/painting?

I think right now I would love to transform an entire kitchen-cabinets and walls!

  1. What is the biggest obstacle/hurdle you have to pursuing this special dream of yours full time?

Money and Time!

 

  1. Where does your inspiration come from?

Paint Couture has a Distributor Page and I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from there. I also get ideas and inspiration from my favorite magazine, Southern Living.

 

  1. What advice would you like to share with dreamers like you? What one piece of wisdom or lesson that you learned would you say pushed you the furthest in this dream?

 I would say: Never Give Up! I am still not there yet, but I am closer than when I started. There has been so much to learn, but in two years, I feel I have come a long way.

What has pushed me the furthest is my belief that God gave me the dream and He opened the door for me when I met Lynne at LTD 7. My faith assures me that God will be alongside me to guide and direst my path. With Him, all things are possible!

 

 

A Person of Interest – Mugshots Squared

Today, I want to feature a man we have all come to know and love. As a local to Staunton, he can be found, around town, sometimes on a Harley. He’s a landscaper by profession. And a wonderful human being by design.

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Many of you may remember him from Lee High class of 1981 or with his Bride and high school Sweetheart, Angie.

This man has a heart of gold, his family is his pride and joy,  his God is his guiding light. and he has an eye for our amazing landscape too. Not just any landscape, mind you, but the kind that captures your attention in the way that he sees it. His name is Mic Whitesell, and he is known and loved by all of us here at LTD 7 as the eye behind the camera of Mugshots Squared and the only male member of The Dream Team. Mic not only takes wonderful photos, but he has a way of with photo names as well. He captures our world in such a beautiful, fun, lighthearted way!  You can find many pictures framed and for sale in our downtown location of LTD 7 but please take the time to join his Instagram, his photos are amazing and far to many to feature at LTD 7. Any item you find can be framed or purchased. Contact LTD 7, Downtown.  Mic’s Instagram:

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Mic’s First baby Shower FullSizeRender

December is his busy time of year! 10539183_889233974444250_8121803981696963175_o

His beautiful Daughter6723_562111873898577_6668879911979023366_n

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Enjoy my interview with Mic.

Living the Dream,

Lynne

 

  1. How did you get started? “What’s your story?”

I have always taken pictures. I probably started shooting around the age of ten.  My brother and I had a bathroom that was turned into a darkroom when we were young. I used a 35mm camera until the camera phone evolved.

I have worked outside all of my life. I think my relationship with nature influenced my “like” of subject matter. Some of you may or may not know that my real occupation is a landscape gardener. I have been self-employed for many years, but now work for a major healthcare organization doing pretty much the same.

A few years back, I was persuaded to join and use social media as an outlet for my hobby. I was reluctant at first, but soon, I was hooked. By popular demand, and with the encouragement of LTD 7, I started Mugshots2. All of my pictures are taken with my camera phone.

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“Downtown Drops”

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  1. Is this a full time gig? Do you think some day it will be?

Yes and no. I take photos all the time. Some days the totals for photos shot can reach in the hundreds. Maybe I will go full time, someday… anything is possible.

  1. You use an iPhone? Are you telling people that you support Apple phones for this kind of endeavor? Will any camera phone work?

 My first camera phone was a Samsung Galaxy. I was satisfied with the results, but due to a mishap (H2O) it had to be replaced. My new phone just happened to be an iPhone 4. I became comfortable with it. Since then, I have upgraded to an iPhone 6s. Is it any better? I don’t know; they all have advantages and disadvantages. I feel you should use whatever you have and make the most out of it.

  1. Where would you most like to shoot?

I take pictures of anything-anywhere. In January, my family and I visited Hawaii for a couple of weeks. The abundance of subject matter there was unbelievable. I took over 6,500 photos!

Mostly, I enjoy exploring our area right here at home, photographing what I term “overlooked subject matter.”

“Around downtown”

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5. What is the biggest obstacle to pursuing this dream of yours?

 In one word: Money.

6. Do you ever encounter resistance from the public?

Not really. I just use common sense. And I always ask permission.

  1. What is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to you while shooting? G Rated, of course.

I stopped to take photographs of some rusty cars on my way home from work one evening, only to find a couple months later I was a “Person of Interest” in a robbery case on the same property. I was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.( Thus the name of his company)

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Wherever he travels, he takes LTD 7 with him🙂

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  1. What would you like to share with dreamers like you? What one piece of advice would you say pushed you the furthest in this dream?

 I would say, just “Do It!” If what you want makes you happy…then be happy. Don’t procrastinate. Even if your dream doesn’t turn in your favor, at least you tried. You can learn from your mistakes and be better.

The name, “LTD 7” says it all. “Living the Dream”

Thank you Mic!

Mic Whitesell iphone Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fool me once…

 

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A couple of months ago, you may have seen an ad on Facebook for Ray Ban sunglasses for $19.99! Now we all know that Ray Bans are never marked down to $19.99. That is 88% off retail cost. What was even better was that you could have your choice of styles and they had a lot of styles to pick from. The site looked legit, using images and logos from Ray Ban and even better, shipping was free! All you had to do was pay $19.99 and you would have a brand new pair of expensive sunglasses for a song!

So you decide to order…….Three weeks later, still no Ray Bans.  You go back to your order and investigate,  hoping to find a telephone number to call, or a website to contact. That’s when you discover that you ordered from a company a very long way from home, across oceans and continents. You also find out that there is no way to contact the place you had ordered from. All you can do, at this point, is wait, hoping to get your sunglasses.

A week or so later, you get your new sunglasses! They come in a Ray Ban box from China. The packaging is tattered and torn. The box is smashed in sections. Still, you are hopeful as you open your box.

What you found inside was a pair of supposed Ray Bans, but not the style you ordered. The logo is missing and the glasses are obviously poor knockoffs.…. Disappointment reigns.

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Do you send them back? Noooooo. Shipping to China is more than the glasses cost. Trying to deal with a company overseas, that had no contact information, would mean that you had no recourse should you not get your money back. The time and trouble so far is not worth it!  So you chalk up your losses to falling for a “too good to be true” ad and throw the glasses in the trash bin.

Sound Familiar? Facebook is littered with too good to be true ads for clothing and accessories that somehow, through some algorithm and “cookies,” follows your likes and interests and teases you with unbelievably great prices and goods.   Usually you know in your heart of hearts nothing could ever be sold that cheaply here in the good ole USA.

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These foreign countries borrow images from Instagram and magazines, like Harper’s Bazar. Appearances and good photography draw us in. If we then see that a few of our Facebook friends have “liked” the page, we click on it and the social media net is thrown. These companies have the money to pay huge advertising costs. Their outreach on Social media is huge! But some questions remain that must be asked when contemplating a purchase form a foreign entity:

How is their customer service? Is it nonexistent?

Is the company reachable in the case of a return or an issue with a purchase?

Do they offer you an incentive to repurchase from them?

How many complaints against them have been filed with the Better Business Bureau?

Personally, I don’t want to go to these extremes when I am shopping.

Shoppers are faced with so many options these days. At LTD 7 and Grandma’s Bait we pride ourselves on great customer service and quality goods. Not so true with the overseas vendors. We have integrity and we want you back as a repeat customer. We know that you may not give us a second chance, with so many options, so we bend over backwards to please you the first time, and every time thereafter. We do not pay for wide reaching ads on Social Media. We depend on you, and word of mouth to widen our customer base.

Your opinions and needs and your experience with us is our number one priority. We are a reputable group of women and men who understand that your repeat business is paramount to our success. We have integrity, which is something that many fly-by-night overseas companies do not have.

We know that quality goods and great service will keep you loyal. That is exactly what you will get at our stores: quality goods, reasonable prices and human customer service, from the moment you step into one of our stores.

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Stop in this week to any of our stores, LTD 7, LTD 7.2 or Grandma’s Bait to experience our pride of ownership and our devotion to you, the customer. You won’t be disappointed.

Living the Dream,
Lynne