Howdy My Dear Quilting Friends,
Let's see we have had the website up for over a year, and I am finally getting the nerve to write the "About Us" page. Wonders never cease!
I started quilting in 1998 because my heart was broken. I got remarried after being a single mom for 7 years raising and supporting 4 youngin's on my own.
So let's head back to 1992:
In July of that year my ex-husband walked out with his secretary leaving me with our children ages 2,3, 7 and 8 at the time.I was headed for surgery in 2 weeks. Not only was I devastated, ( I truly was in love with the "two timin, double dealin' mean mistreatin' lovin'" man I married back when I was 18 years old. ) my self esteem was on the floor, I was an at home wife with no education or way to make a living and I was left with all of the debt and no money. So I held my head as high as I could, loaded the kids up into the car and was the first in our line of people to go sign up for welfare. One of the most humbling days of my life.
A few years earlier in the marriage when the income we did have coming in was going to wine, women, and song, I started making curtains out of my home and was selling them to friends. Now as I sat in the shabby apartment (too bad Shabby Chic wasn't yet discovered back then) I had rented for me and my brood I was racking my brain as to how I was going to survive.
I took the first welfare check, bought some groceries to get us by, took the rest and went to Kinkos, printed up some small postcard flyers annoucing the opening of my new design company: Interiors by Johna'Lee. (Not only did I not have a college education, I really didn't even know what I was doing).
I jump in my junky old car and headed to the elite neighborhoods in the Bay Area surrounding San Francisco and start knocking on doors trying to convince people they needed my design services. Each door that slammed in my face I would tell myself my mantra "Well, they just don't know what they are missing out on!"
Finally a woman invited me in and told me she wanted shutters through out her house.
" Sure, we can do shutters!" I exclaimed happily (I didn't know anything about shutters) "I will have my installer out tomorrow." (I didn't have an installer but by the next day I did.)
I made $1200 for a days worth of work and from there built my design firm learning things as I went, ending up with clients not only all over San Francisco, but Texas, Colorado and Nevada as well.
Now it is 1998:
Exhausted, running a company by myself taking care of kids, having one kid almost committing suicide, I was falling apart. I started examinig my belief system of what I had been taught all of my life, that as long as I had a living husband I couldn't get remarried. If I did I would be considered an adulterer in God's eyes and would never make it to heaven. I was supposed to wait until the ex straightened up. (Yeah right!)
I truly thought I was having a nervous breakdown and went to the doctor who informed me that if I didn't make some major life changes immediately I wouldn't be alive in a year's time.
This is when ole Kenny Roy (the redhead whom you see in the shoppe and at shows with me) started pursuing me. We were swapping baby sitting at the time...my 4 to his 1! (Sucker!). And after praying all night desperately it was revealed so clear to me that I was to marry him. This is after night after night me trying to preach to him on the porch with my Bible open how I couldn't get remarried. And yet the whole time I was truly trying to convince myself as well as him. It was a belief that I had questioned even as a young child.
He shows up at his house that day, is opening up his mail out in his truck when my kids come running up to him and tell him. "Come on Ken, you are getting married today. You need to get dressed!"
"Oh I am?" He looks bewildered. Hours later, he had a ring on his finger. Nothing like living in Las Vegas. It does have its good points!
I never dreamed I would be ex-communicated from the only church I ever knew. And that a shunning would take place that would turn my world upside down. My best friend told me I was no longer welcome in her home, my mom and dad turned against me and all of my family (except for my dear brother, his wife and kids) and friends as well. Filled with pain I headed out to my design studio, and started ripping up all of my old fabric sample books and decided I was going to learn how to quilt.
I went down to the library and rented a video on how to make a quilt, not realizing it was a video from the 1960's. Nothing about good ole rotary cutters and mats. Only cardboard templates and marking on the lines. This is how I made my first quilt. It was a Churn Dash and I designed the pattern from scratch.
When I woke up in the middle of the night the first night after starting this quilt and had to head to the dining room table to keep working on it I was so excited, I knew I was hooked. There was a passion deep within me taking root and I could feel it. I couldn't remember when the last time was that I felt something so deep stirring in my soul. There was an excitement, a joy in my otherwise pain filled existence.
So, as I fought the church, the head leaders, writing letter after letter to no avail, pleading with my family and friends, I continued to piece away at my first quilt. Piecing that first quilt was my sanity, and took my mind away from my pain. I had no idea that being excommunicated was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me in all of my life. It caused me to read my Bible and pray like I had never prayed before. I learned to have a relationship with God. Not man, not man's ideas.
As I plugged away I had no intention of getting into the quilting business. But!!
I started designing Meet Me In Paris, when at Quilt Night one night with my newfound girlfriends in town there was a knock on the door. I was served papers. My child was being taken away from me, and my ex was accusing me of child abuse. This the darling man who not only ran out on us but owed me over $100,000 in back child support. And the suicidal child? It was over unmentionable things he had done to her when she was a child. And 'I was being sued for Child Abuse?? This was almost more than I could take.
You know how quilters are girls, they rallied around me as I sat there and cried. Finally I had to start packing up all of my stuff and head home. I was humiliated beyond belief.
Ken and I were making it on his salary alone at this time, I had shut my interior design business down and was trying to heal myself after we had married. We had no money for lawyers, so I prepare a 92 page document on my own and drove down to Palm Springs to represent myself, only to be told by the judge that my papers were not acceptable.
To make a long story short, Ken empties the account hires a lawyer and we start down the long drawn out affair of trying to prove my innocence. All the while I am working on this quilt not yet named Meet Me In Paris, the working title instead was "Quilt of Sorrows" not knowing if I was going to be put into jail.
At one point when I was finished with the center portion of the quilt, I folded it up and put it in a closet and was determined it was a lost cause. A few days later though I pulled it out and with determination realized that it was the one thing that I could control in my life in the midst of all of the other uncontollable chaos.
Several terrifying months later the court case gets dropped when the ex's dirty laundry starts getting aired and I head home with my youngest who is in tears and who clings to me and sings to me Celine Dion's song that she wrote for her own mother. We are quite the picture, driving down I-15 hugging each other dripping with tears and yet smiling and laughing all at the same time. ("Mommy I am so glad to be home!! I would sit in my room and cry and cry for you. I would scream at my dad and tell him I wanted to go home but he wouldn't even let me talk to you." )The funny thing was, his child support had been upped 2 1/2 times, so after 12 years of not being there for his kids, he decided he wanted to take on trying to be a dad. Go figure.
While in court I must add: Before it was all thrown out my attorney came up to me and told me if I would just promise not to spank my kids ever again the whole thing would be dropped. I adamently refused much to Ken's chagrin and said that I would go to jail before I would bow to man and man's way of thinking and turn against God and God's word. And I sincerely believe that it is God who blessed us with this Meet Me In Paris Quilt. I never could have imagined how that one quilt was going to be the lifeline to our business and how it would bless us. In fact I even have a hard time taking credit for it, I feel like it is "God's" quilt. And of course when we decided to make it into a pattern for others to be able to make, I knew the name "Quilt of Sorrows" wasn't going to work. The title of the fabrics used was called Paris Flea Market and the whole time I was working on it I would have loved nothing better than to be as far across the continent as possible. Being a Francophile, "Meet Me In Paris" seemed the perfect fit.
After the dust settles, Ken and I started attending quilt shows on his days off. Packing up our wares. The few fabrics we started the business out with and my first two patterns. We turned my 10 X 12 Tuff Shed which was my design studio into my first humble beginnings of a quilt shoppe.
(To this day we have literally sold thousands of Meet Me In Paris patterns and Quilt Kits. And they continue to sell. The quilt has taken on a life of its own. And show after show, my dear customers come up and tell me their wonderful stories and what the Meet Me In Paris Quilt has done for them. )
HOW WE ENDED UP IN PANGUITCH UTAH:
Ashley and I went to Panguitch 3 years ago to do a show there. It was only $35 to get in, and we almost didn't go, I was so afraid we might not make our expenses. I had never even heard of the town before. But I never like to go back on my word, so we piled the Rodeo up, and headed out. In 3 days we made over $7,000 and upon hearing the story of the Quilt Walk (Go to the Panguitch Quilt Walk Link on the website to read the story), I came home and exclaimed to Ken, "Hon, this town's history is based on quilting, and they don't even have a quilt shoppe. We need to move!!"
Within a couple of days, my daughter Brooke got a realtor out and listed not only our property , but her and her husband's and my son and his wife listed their property as well. We sold our house in 3 days, the kids were soon to follow in selling theirs, and we all moved to Panguitch.
We bought the darling little house on Main Street, and here it is that our little quilt story continues to play out. Ken quit his job to go in the business full time with me, reminding me often that he didn't quit working for the 'other' man to go to work for the 'other' woman. But I sweetly remind him that I am the ONLY woman. He continues his quest for a good marriage counselor.
And in closing, it is you, our customers who have made our quilting journey the sweet journey it is. Life if very hectic behind the scenes trying to keep all the balls up in the air. But it is when you walk into the shoppe or come into our booth at the quilt shows with your big smiles, your stories and your passionate quest to learn more about quilting that makes our life complete. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our business what it is today.
Now you see why it took me so long to write our "About Us" page!
With Quilting Love and Affection,