Seriously, a grief product company? Yes it is. Oh, yeah, and resilience stuff too!
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Why are we selling stuff?
In an age where minimalism reigns supreme and across the board trends are moving towards everything being digital, why would I want to launch a brand of actual "stuff"? When Sawyer died we were shocked, to put it mildly. Never in my wildest nightmares did I consider my active, vibrant, extreme sports enthusiast child, would remain unconscious after a seizure started in his 6th grade history class and ultimately die from a ruptured AVM on the brain. Never. But it happened.
When it did, we were inconsolable. Looking back, I found that some of the things that helped me through my darkest moments were just that, "things." Things people gave me. A pocket sized bronze angel. A wooden plaque with the phrase "Our family is a circle of love and strength." A bracelet with the word "fearless" on it (a word that was the theme of Sawyer's Celebration of Life). A wonder woman necklace. Cards sent by people I love and strangers I had never met before. Tokens. Physical tokens that shared the sentiment, "I am grieving with you. You are not alone. Remember that even though I am not there, I am holding space for you. I am so sorry and words cannot convey my love." Reminders that I was not alone in my grief.
Enter, my passion for paper
I think people thought I had lost my mind when I said I wanted to sell cards made from actual paper.
Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I have always wanted to own my own business. Oprah says "Do what you are passionate about." So for years I would converse with friends about what business I should start. "Soups and Scoops," my imaginary ice cream and soup shop. My short lived "Trendy 10," a mobile boutique of ten trendy items a month for under $10. Even after Sawyer died I got the license for "Sawyer's Spot," my would be candy store/community gathering place. My passion was a passion to start a business, but you can't start a business without a business to start.
Turns out I had another passion that I never thought could feed a business. I love paper. All sorts of paper. Cards, wrapping paper, notepads, all of it. I can remember vividly as a child visiting my mom after school at her job in the mall selling non-alcoholic wines (yes, that was a real store) and spending hours at the sticker shop next door. As an adult, my favorite gifts are the ones packaged well, no matter the content. Thick shiny wrapping paper with a bow. Card with a weight or beautiful pattern. I love it all.
Mother's day 2019. I don't celebrate Mother's day anymore. Immediately after Sawyer died we didn't celebrate anything. As we slowly started accepting celebrations into our life (we still had three kids at home after all) we did so without vim or vigor. We were passive in our celebrations, often doing all we could to distance ourselves from the celebration while still allowing it to pass our doorstep. We hired someone to decorate our Christmas tree. We farmed out trick-or-treating to family at church. But Mother's day? It is technically "my" holiday so since it impacts no one else, I decided I didn't want to celebrate it. What I did want to do was to acknowledge it with the community of mourners I have met who also have had a child die. I went to the store and everything was all sunshine and unicorns. In a couple of more progressive stores there were a couple of "thinking of you" cards that sort of could work, but it made me mad. I wanted cards that said, "This sucks," or something that touched on the more genuinely soul sucking part of grief.
Cue the ah-ha moment. We had been sharing our grief journey with friends and other grievers using the hashtag #heartbrokenbutnotbroken. It became a family motto that we clung to when the waves of sadness were trying to drown us. It was based on a moment we shared as a family in the hospital as Sawyer was dying. When we spoke at a public event for organ donation we shared our message and it resonated with many people. Our family motto meshed with my lack of access to products I couldn't find and then I got the idea to launch a brand. Thoughtful products designed to acknowledge grief and honor resilience. My life motto was my lifeline, my passion. And my now, my business.