‘Meet the Maker’ Mini Bio
Today is the day.
The day I’ve procrastinated about for the best part of the year; writing about myself.
It is easy to hide behind a screen & a click of the mousepad. Likewise, it is easy to forget that when you’re ordering handmade creations, that they come from a real person. They’re not mass produced & they may not be flawless but one thing that you can be certain of, is that a lot of time & love has gone into each piece made especially for you.
I recently posted about ‘Meet the Maker’ & I was taken aback by the number of questions that had been asked & by both how little you knew about me, which shouldn’t be of any surprise to me & how much you wanted to get to know me. For that, I thank you.
So, here is a piece of my story.
My name is Andrea & I am the creator, administrator & dreamer of ‘Shabby & Sweet.’
I’m a Mum of two Rainbow Babies; a now nearly 4yo boy & an 18mo girl. My husband is my number one champion. He encourages me to see things through & as cliché as it may sound, to follow my dreams.
Since a very young age, I’ve had a passion for learning & the arts in all its glorious forms; music, dance, art & craft. For years as a child, I watched & occasionally assisted, some might say ‘ruined,’ my beautiful Mum’s projects. She was an accomplished hobby seamstress & crafter. While working fulltime in the medical profession, she created the most stunning padded fabric shadow & scenery boxes along with anything else that she felt the urge to make, a dance costume, a wedding gown, hair accessories; you name it, she could make it.
I remember one very cold winter’s night in the early 90’s tuning in to watch ‘A Country Practice’ at 7.30pm while creating my first piece of clothing. My Barbie doll was cold too! So, I knitted her a winter tunic. I then went onto create my own dance costumes including the Ballroom & Latin type with thousands of hand beaded sequins & develop a love for cross stitch & crochet.
Over the years I worked hard & studied even harder & reached my goals which were continually evolving as I fell in love with the next field that I’d learnt. I called myself a ‘professional student.’ I worked both fulltime while studying fulltime. I now look back after two children wondering how I’d ever found the time or had the energy. I finally settled on Allied Health where I built my own business from the ground up. For over a decade, it thrived & I had grand plans for future growth & development. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Four years ago I lost my Mum to Metastatic Breast Cancer. Prior to her passing, I was tested for the gene BRCA1 & BRCA2. I returned a 98.7% chance of Breast Cancer & 91.2% chance of Cervical & Ovarian Cancer within my lifetime.
For 6 years I’ve undertaken a variety of Fertility Treatments, with my husband by my side, after it was discovered that at 24 years, I was perimenopausal. We were gifted with 9 pregnancies between the first & second trimester but over the years, took home 2 beautiful babies, both born prematurely.
I was 7 weeks pregnant with my Son, our first born, when my Mum passed away. My daughter was born via emergency Caesarean as a result of a life-threatening cord prolapse. While in theatre, an unexpected large mass was removed from my ovary. Who would have thought that one tiny little human’s life-threatening condition could save someone from another?
I’d promised my Mum that I’d keep my life Cancer-free. To keep my word, 3 months after the birth of my daughter & less than 2 weeks until my 30th Birthday, I had a Total Hysterectomy & Reconstruction. After years of fertility hormones, injections, medications, procedures & now HRT, my active lifestyle dramatically changed & I closed my business.
During this period, I started to create again, with no other purpose than therapy & to pass the long nights fighting Insomnia. I created bookends & fabric floor rugs for the nursery, floral décor, dainty tiebacks & floral crowns for babies. Little did I know that this was “a thing” or that there was a market for handmade items like these. They were purely sentimental to me, with one word & a wish in common ‘baby.’ A then photographer friend visiting saw my creations taking over the kitchen table, the lounge room coffee table, the nursery & the spare bedroom. My Husband, bless his cotton socks, didn’t once say a word about my creative mess. She suggested, that I sell my “props” & asked if I would make some custom orders for her. I was more than happy too as it gave me something else to focus on. At that very kitchen table, ‘Shabby & Sweet’ was born.
At first, it was a hobby; I created when requested but slowly more orders came in & from people I didn’t know & 15 months later, I decided to turn ‘Shabby & Sweet’ into a small business.
In October, 2017 I launched the ‘Shabby & Sweet’ online store, where you are currently reading my blog post, “Hello! Thank you for being here,” which showcases my love for all things fun, floral, delicate, vintage, shabby & handmade.
The store had 3 wonderful functioning months before January 2018 caught up with me. At which point in time, again, only days from my 31st Birthday, I had treatment & a Bilateral (Double) Mastectomy & Reconstruction with a Sentinel Lymph node & Axillary Node removal. Now, 13 ½ weeks Post Op, I’m more excited than ever to continue creating & to grow my small business & any future endeavours to their fullest potential.
My business story & life story cross paths creating a mini bio. Some questions however, can’t be answered in the midst of a long story. So, here’s some of the questions that you’ve asked that I’m yet to answer.
Thank you Blossoms for your support & love for my handmade creations. xx
“What is your favourite piece or collection so far?”
Each time I create something new, it almost always, becomes my new favourite. However, while I love all things feminine, floral & delicate, I was recently blown away by the response & my love for S&S’s first boy inspired line ‘Feather & Leather’ Boho. I enjoyed every moment of designing & creating the line & I’m really looking forward to the next Boy & Unisex release.
“Do you ever get “blocked” like Writer’s Block? And if you do, do you ever turn to Google?”
More often than not, I find I have too many ideas circling in my head. It can become very distracting at times so I have a few notebooks where I keep my ideas, details & designs to clear my mind for creating. I’ve not had a block as such but distraction can become overwhelming & require a coffee break or three. I also don’t drink coffee.
To answer the second part of your question, no I don’t turn to Google. I hold onto my designs like they are part of me. By gathering inspiration from other handmaidens, Google & social media platforms, I personally feel that it stunts my creativity & individualism. While there’s such thing as reinventing items, like a floral crown that are readily available, none are created in the same way, as each handmaiden has their unique style. I love supporting other small businesses, especially handmade but try to scroll as quickly as I can past any posts that resemble items that I create to maintain the uniqueness of both handmaidens.
“What inspires you to create?”
While it’s easy to see in my story that my family are my number one inspiration, I find that I’m also inspired by nature & my dreams. More often than not, if I’m having a design issue or I’m not entirely happy with a design that I’ve drawn, I will dream about it overnight & the problem is solved come the morning. I also love that nature has so much to offer in the way of inspiration; colour, flow, function & seasons to name a few.
Thank you again & have a fabulous day! xx
** Photo credit – Art Photography by Melainne Kelly **
– NB: Original image modified –