After seeing the little e line at the Atlanta Market this weekend, I may have to change my name to Big E Studio due to the size of my head. Creative Co-op made me feel like a total rock star. From the display, to the reps, to the customers, to the owners, to the details.
I had never been to market before this weekend. This was a grand introduction, for sure. I really didn’t grasp the enormity of this opportunity until I walked into that 12,000 square foot bright and bustling showroom and saw little e me staring back at me from wall after wall.
My friend Tawnya who owns C’est Moi, the store where my work was discovered by the owner of Creative Co-op, met me in the lobby of Building 2 to walk me in for the first time. Before we walked in, she stopped and looked me in the eye and tried to explain what a big deal this licensing agreement is, how distinctive this company is, how sought after their products are, how impressive their showroom is, how wide their reach. I am so glad she did that because it allowed me to take a minute to try to wrap my pea brain about what I was about to see. But nothing can really fully prepare you. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And I’m so glad I had no idea because fear and lack of confidence might have prevented me from experiencing this:
That’s me, weepy and dazed, upon first arriving in the showroom.
That’s one wall of my line. Buckets, travel mugs, trays, wall decor.
One of twelve best sellers that were in my line.
Prior to walking into this showroom, I had only seen fuzzy cellphone pictures and thumbnails. The only person from Creative Co-op that I had met in person was Sandy, the rep for my area. Let me just sum it all up by saying I wept all weekend. Every single time I walked into that showroom, I was overcome. Each display was bright and colorful. Each piece they created was a perfect collaboration between my images and their vision. Their complete belief in my work and in me. Their welcome embrace and encouragement. The owners, the reps, the staff. All just as excited about me as I was about them. They loved my story and I loved that they were willing to give a complete unknown a shot at what thousands of working artists can only dream about. I do not take this for granted. I came back energized and inspired and grateful and eager. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
A few highlights:
My wonderful husband and Tawnya from C’est Moi, the whole reason I got this deal. We were a little excited. I can never say thanks enough. I am so glad I made that wrong turn last summer.
These two metal pieces were fantastic. Embossed, rusted, textured. A best seller.
Heart trays and travel mugs, another best selling item.
Tin Prayer Box. I adored this piece. One of my top three.
Coasters. Another top three for me. Just fabulous in person.
This enormous distressed, embossed, textured tin wall hanging was stunning in person.
We cannot wait to get this mirror! And the birdcage dish is my absolute favorite.
These frames were ingenious. They are magnetic so you can easily change the pictures.
My Daisy, Daisy painting and set of hearts…another best seller!
Another opportunity for tears. Creative Co-op featured my hearts in a full page ad in Home Accents Today. My heart just burst when I saw this!
Here it is up close. Little ol’ little e me. Sniff.
See what I mean? They made me feel like a rock star. This write up is the perfect description of my aesthetic. When I saw this, I wept. Again.
How cute are these bucket/hooks. They will soon be hanging in my baby’s bathroom!
This was the first piece I saw for approval. Can you even imagine? I send images off and I get a picture a few months later with this!!! I almost died. This piece fills me with such joy. It makes me happy!
View of three crosses on wall, pillows and metal crosses on mirror. All best sellers.
This man. Amazing. My biggest fan. My faithful encourager.
This was the last picture we took of me in my booth. I am a drippy mess. I am so glad this picture was blurry because I was puffy and delirious.
So what does all this mean? I have no idea. I truly don’t. When I sell 30 paintings at an art show, I am doing cartwheels. I cannot fathom the volume of this company. When I say that something is a best seller, it means that out of the thousands of items in this 12,000 foot showroom, I have twelve items in my product line that are in the top 200 sellers for the whole company up to this point. Heart palpitations. Welling eyes. Racing thoughts. Boundless thanks.
I am not boasting. I boast in nothing. I did not do this. I am not being humble either. I did not do this. I quit my job. I made a wrong turn. I ended up here. Thank goodness God can do more than we can ask or imagine because I would not have known to ask or imagine this turn of events.
And thank goodness He can also turn mourning into dancing. Last year at this exact weekend, I was not preparing for market. I was preparing to bury my best friend who died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, on July 15. No one would have been more genuinely excited for me about this crazy art business. Design-wise, she was my inspiration. My guru. My go-to. If she liked it, I knew I would like it. At one point we even had the exact same furniture. I remember calling her from the furniture store after agonizing over fabric for hours to see if I could just get what she had. Of course her purity of heart and generosity of spirit had no issue with us copying her. And I remember painting a bedroom a taupey-gold color and bringing the paint swatch over to her house to see what she thought. She had been painting, too. Spent the whole day hand mixing and tinting her paint to get just the right shade of taupey-gold. I promise I do not exaggerate when I say my swatch and her wall were identical. One year we decided to take our design sensibility and get a booth at the flea market together for the weekend. We spent hours sanding Cheech and Chong’s decoupaged faces off a cute side table we had nabbed from the trash for our booth, but the 24 hour lipstick and ceramic animals at the vendor across the way were bigger hits that weekend. Even now, I have her kitchen chairs, her rug, her sofa, her coffee table, her end tables, and her paint choices all over my house. Even now, every painting begins with the shade of brown she picked for her condo remodel. To be in this career without her eye and opinion is so very strange.
Oh. I love her. I miss her. I’m weepy again.
But God granted me mercy this weekend. He blessed me with sweet remembrance and joy in the moment.
And here’s the thing. I know He’s not done.
Look for little e in a store near you. Especially in Iowa. I hear I’m HUGE in Iowa.
From the bottom of my heart…