Friday, January 4, 2013

The Tale of a T-Shirt to an adorable little hat...

This little post has been written and re-written over and over in my head for the past few months.  It has been on my heart and in my head.  Before I get to deep into this tale, I would like to start by explaining that my intention of this post is not to sell.  Moreover my hope is to share with you the very personal journey that these little hats have taken me on in the past year, and share the beginnings of a new chapter, yet to be written for these little guys.
 
And so it began with the Tale of the little Ruffled Hat….
Imagine: an art teacher (who loves and is passionate about her job) has a family.  The family grows.  With baby number 3 comes the great desire to slow down the pace of life and focus on what is right in front of her, which she all too soon knows will pass, her young children.  She reignites an old passion while expecting baby number 3: sewing.  She tries all sorts of new patterns for baby girl Johnson.  Her outlet in the evening to relax after a busy day of mommy-ing and teaching is to sit and drool over patterns and fabric.  One night she comes across a pattern by Lilly Giggle….a little hat made from knits…darling!  She adds this to a list of patterns she would like to purchase and shares it with the home-ec. teacher at school who coincidental whips up one for Baby Girl Johnson one weekend.  Baby Girl gets tons of compliments on the hat, which ignites a little spark in the art teacher…could I make these and sell them?
So you guessed it, I’m the art teacher.  I bought the pattern.  I made the hat.  The very first one was a gift for a neighbor’s little girl on her first birthday.  The neighbor was totally thrilled and kept urging me to make them…still unconfident and unsure; I convinced myself I still needed more practice.  The second hat I made was for my soon-to-be niece, Julia.  My sister used it in her newborn photo shoot and the pictures turned out precious.  My sister too urged me…”These are darling!  You need to sell these!”  Soon, two more orders came in.  Then, in May, a special request from a fellow middle-school art teacher, “Jenny, if I give you a t-shirt that my class and I have tie-dyed school colors, could you make it into a hat for a student who is undergoing chemo for cancer?” 
Wow.  Speechless. 
So I made one more hat…and in that one hat I hoped that I sewed in enough love and healing that it’s new little model would wear it and feel like she was getting a hug each time she wore her hat.  It was at this point that very quietly, I could hear God whispering to me.  It was a pull that I knew I was supposed to follow.  I didn’t quite trust in the direction that I was being pulled.  Too risky, I kept telling myself.  Quit your full-time job?  Focus on your family.  Use God’s gifts, different gifts, in different ways than those around me expected me to.  I was so unsure and kept reassuring myself that I just could not do it.  I had no assurance it would work.
About that time I also made my daughter, Mary Kate, a hat…tea-stained like her cousin Julia’s and filled with eyelet from Grandma’s trim stash, laces from mom’s stash and scraps of torn fabric.  People would comment every time she wore it.  This winter we have pulled it back out and, I’m not kidding…every time she wears it people stop and ask where I got it and if they can have a business card.  At the neighborhood Holiday Open House I participated in early November I sold almost 15 hats!  Special Orders from friends and family have exploded. 
Well, to end the story…I did listen and quit my full time job.  I have been waiting tables this fall and working endless hours on the side to learn the business, keep up with orders from hats, and most importantly be present in the moment with my kids and husband.  I listened.  I closed my eyes and jumped….and….doors are slowly opening.  Over Christmas break, Kate, Grandma Charla and I stopped in a local boutique and the girl behind the counter asked about Kate’s little hat.  She wanted a business card.  Said the owner would “flip”!  She also asked if I had a line sheet?  And I thought “a what?”  A day later I received a phone call from the owner that she is very interested in selling my little hats in her shop, would I be able to drop off some samples and pricing?  Ummmmm…YES!
So last weekend…two days after Christmas when I swore to my family I wouldn’t be dragging out the sewing machine again…I did.  And I learned on the fly all sorts of new things about design (thank goodness for the art background!)…a look-book? Check.  A line sheet?  Check.  Samples?  Check. Check. Check.
 Tea-Stained Look Book and Line Sheet
 
I don’t know where this will all lead….but I have a very, very good feeling.  Doors are opening.  Slowly.  I am listening.  And most importantly, it makes me over the moon happy.  Happy to be using a gift, that I wasn’t so sure about, to make something that makes other’s happy.  Happy that God is allowing me to be a mommy first while still utilizing gifts he gave to me.
I have completely updated the ETSY store.  If you are interested in checking T-Hats out, or other new items, I offer them as custom orders through my ETSY Store by clicking on the screenshot below.  You may also shop by clicking on the right side mini-etsy store you see on this page. 
Ruffle T-shirt Hats are made from 100% up-cycled cotton t-shirts.  A lot of people can’t believe these are made from a t-shirt, but they are!   I am pretty picky about using only new or nearly new shirts.  Tea-stained or colored options are available.  T-hat are available in every size from newborn to adult.  I can supply the T’s or you may provide me with a sentimental or specific T if you wish.
Each ruffled band is shirred on elastic thread so that hats are quite stretchy and fit the head comfortably.  Each hat bears the Two Bees and a Belle label and is finished with a t-flower on the front.
Donation nearly new T’s welcome…I’m many folks new “Salvation Army”.  If you are like my husband, he has tons of these that have been given to him through school and sports that have only been worn a time or two.
If you have already purchased a T-Hat…Thank You!  I would love to use pictures of your little ones sporting their ruffle-y goodness in future advertisements!
And to close off this lengthy post, I would like to give away a hat!  If you stuck with it and read this whole super long post you deserve a gift! 
 
There are three ways to enter the giveaway:
1.  leave a comment below with your email contact (so I can contact you if you win!)  Some have indicated that they don't have a Google Account so they aren't sure how to leave a comment...it's super simple...click on the arrow on the box that says COMMENT AS....
 
See at the bottom where it says ANONYMOUS?  Click that.  You should now be able to leave a comment.  Just be sure to leave contact info. or I don't know how to find you...email is great!
 
2 .  Go to Facebook and LIKE Two Bees and Belle's Facebook Page.  Now enter another comment on this page that says "I liked you on Facebook"....be sure to leave an e-mail contact!
 
3.  Now click "SHARE" on the Facebook about this post.  Enter another comment on this page that says "I shared this!"...be sure to leave an e-mail contact. 
 
That's  it!  Three ways to win a hat all for you.  You can choose size, color, etc.  Winner will be announced Monday at 9:00 PM CST.
 
Thanks so much everyone and good luck!
 
Jenny