The Birth of an Idea

As I pondered what my first blog (EVER!) should be about, I realized that one of the things that I wanted to know from other shop owners was why they started their business in the first place. Sure, we all love the craft of needlework, but why make a business of it? So, I thought I would try to answer that question for you as to why Fire Poppies came into existence. And by the way, I really love to write, so I am giving you fair warning that this, and future blogs, have no hope of ever being short. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

First, let’s talk about why I decided to call it Fire Poppies. You might’ve noticed that there is no reference to stitching, needlework, or anything else in the name to let the casual observer know that this is a shop/website that sells needlework. That was intentional. I wanted to have the ability to use the name for other purposes down the road. I tried to address the current “what it is” in the tagline, “A Contemporary Needlework Boutique.”

The name was actually inspired by a cross stitch piece that I am currently working on called (drumroll please!) “Fire Poppies,” and was designed by MADART (Megan Duncanson). It is one of those pieces that I have a love/hate relationship with. The colors are amazing and the artwork is right up my alley – edgy, contemporary, imaginative, and bordering on the abstract. That is the LOVE part. The “hate” part (maybe that is too strong of a term?) is how slow this is to stitch. It has three distinct challenges that make it, well, quite the challenge. Side confession: I have an addiction to full coverage projects, so I have a pretty good idea of how long an average page in a full coverage piece will take - roughly 35-40 hours/page.

First, the chart is in COLOR and given that there are 100 colors, achieving that many differences in shading between symbols on the chart is nearly impossible. If you add in the constant color changes and the confetti stitches on steroids, my usual average of 35-40 hours/page has been thrown squarely out the window with a loud, resounding KERSPLAT! This pattern has 6 full pages and 2 partial pages. That means I should be able to complete it in approximately 264 hours. Nay, nay. I have completed 2 full pages and 1/3 of one of the partial pages to date, and that has taken 156.5 hours.

Let’s break it down shall we? The full pages actually took me 73 hours each and the time spent on the partial page so far is 10.5 hours. If we do the math, that works out to approximately 498 hours. At this rate, I don’t have a lot of faith that I will have this completed before the physical shop opens, but when it is done, it will hang in a place of honor in the shop for all to see. It will be a visual testament to the amount of work and dedication that is going into bringing Fire Poppies to life.

So now that you understand the name, what about the “why?” Well first, you need to understand a couple of things about me. I’ve always felt that the people I’ve met and the events in my life, no matter how small, were no coincidence. I could always look back to the past and see this perfect path that had brought me to where I was currently standing. I could see where I had wandered off the path on occasion, as I checked out what seemed to be an interesting side trail, but inevitably it would wind its way back to the main road.

As I grow and learn the lessons presented to me, the path gets less bumpy and the side trails seem less interesting, so I make better progress now. The pace is quicker and I don’t get mired down as often in the occasional muddy holes that might appear. I know how to walk around a lot of them now. I’m also better (and improving daily!) at understanding that something bigger than me is lovingly working to bring nothing but goodness and love into my life. The more I lean into that something and release my self-inflicted fear, the more beautiful life becomes.

Now, I prefer not to get caught up in semantics as there are a gazillion shades of green, and we all have our favorite shades for reasons that make perfect sense only to us. But in the end they are all composed of the same thing. So let’s get this out of the way now. You can call that something the Universe, the Quantum Field, The Field of Infinite Potentiality (or the FP as Pam Grout, one of my favorite authors, calls it), The Big Guy Upstairs/The Dude, the Magic Sauce, or God (insert your particular faith’s term here). Whatever makes you comfortable. They are all just words and as such we have all attached our own meanings to them, good, bad, or otherwise (remember those gazillion shades of green?). You will find that I will tend to use them interchangeably, sometimes in the same sentence. For me it is the idea the words convey, so I don’t get too hung up on the verbiage.

Second, I believe that we are all wonderfully, inextricably, and literally connected to each other. I have seen proof of this way too often to ignore it, and quantum mechanics is verifying it from the science aspect, for those of you that get a little itchy when someone mentions the words listed above.

So, let’s get back to the “why”, shall we? Opening a shop had always been one of those “wouldn’t it be great someday” thoughts that I kept carefully tucked into the back of my mind. It was safe there, and I could always bring it out when I wanted to play with the idea a little. Then I would file it away again. Several years ago, the only shop we had in Charleston closed. It was a sad day, but we all understood why our friend made her decision. So I took the idea out and played with it again for a bit, but then once more put it safely back in its place.

Earlier this year, my stitching buddies and I were bemoaning the fact that there was no place to see great fabrics, play with floss, and browse for the next perfect project to do (someday!), short of driving three and half hours to the Stitch and Frame in Rock Hill, which is an amazing shop. We also really wanted a place to hang out and stitch with others. After the other shop closed, we continued to meet on our traditional first Saturday of the month, taking over the big table at our local Panera Bread, but we all wanted a place of our own. So I dusted the idea off again. But this time I kept it out a little longer before tucking it back into bed.

Then, in early May I was chatting with Keith, a life coach friend of mine. He was talking about the successes of the businesses he was working with and how they were going at it from a spiritual, no-limits mindset. I laughed and said, “Well then, you can help me with my dream of opening a needlework shop.” And that’s when I set the idea free. This idea - of bringing a shop to Charleston that would allow stitchers of all ages and skill sets the chance to connect and learn, with dedicated spaces for casual stitching and a classroom, while offering a wide variety of fibers, fabrics, and charts from around the globe - was finally allowed to come out and play, with no fear of being shut away again.

And just like the flower in the name of the shop, this idea has been blossoming ever since. All I have to do is get out of the way and let it grow into what it’s meant to be. Keith has been a great business coach and friend, and he is very good at reminding me that the FP has way more resources than I am aware of, and that things will show up when they are supposed to. I also didn’t miss the fact that the FP and Fire Poppies have the same initials. I like when I get these little “nods” from the Universe. They keep me from wandering down an overgrown trail or two.

I have quite the grand vision for Fire Poppies and, since I wasn’t the lone South Carolinian that recently won the lottery with the largest jackpot in history (though it wasn’t for lack of trying), some of my ideas and plans will need to be phased in over time. But that’s a list that I’ll save for the next blog…