Friday, October 5, 2012

Back To The Beginning: Why I Really Started Selling Transferware




Two weeks ago today I had an amazing conversation with an Emmy and Peabody award winning  film maker who asked me how and why I began selling transferware.




I answered the question truthfully but later thought about the fact that right here, on my blog, I have intentionally avoided sharing with you all exactly what it was that lead me to dealing in English transferware.  It has bothered me ever since my first blog post and is something that I have constantly battled with inwardly: whether or not I wanted to share this part of my life.  I have told myself that my blog would be the one thing that I would always maintain as a positive in my life.  But the reality of life is that all of life is not positive.   The plain jane truth is that I've been afraid to let it all out because I am afraid of what you will think.  Perhaps a due result of my quietness in demeanor, my shyness in nature or my unfortunate lack of self confidence I have let my fear of "what people will think of me" keep me from doing so many things in life that I really want to do.   For goodness sake, it took me almost two years to work up the nerve to author a blog, and frankly I'd never have considered it at all had it not been for my sister-n-law, Monica, who writes professionally btw, make the suggestion to me.
Hmm, I just realized I can blame her if this all goes wrong.



I consider myself to be fairly creative and can only say, from my own feelings and experiences, that as a creative person there are times when I am confronted with an uncontrollable need to create...whether it be writing, decorating, cooking, tablescaping, etc.  Creating is something that I feel is innately instilled in me and it is a way in which I express myself without really having to say a word.   I have gone through times in my life where I literally  wake up in the wee hours of the night and know that I could not return to sleep but rather I had to write down what I was feeling or thinking or get up and begin a project.  I had to get out of me what was trapped inside of me, even if only to jot it down on paper never to be seen or shared anywhere, anytime.  That same feeling is what has been nudging me inwardly since my first blog post, regarding sharing my 'real' story here, so much so that I can't seem to shake the compelling urge to write this. 


In my very first blog post, nearly 3 years ago, I told you about how I started selling transferware and how I had made my first online purchase ever, which was a transferware piece, on Ebay.   I wrote that, by coincidence, the seller I bought from lived only a few miles away so I decided to pick up my purchase in person.  As soon as I saw her wonderful collection of Mason's Vista I didn't even want the piece I'd come for.  I wanted a collection that would rival hers.  
What I chose not to mention in that post was the fact that at the time I bought that piece I had absolutely no business at all buying anything for myself.  Shawn and I were in the midst of losing our home to foreclosure and selling everything of material value we had to just to make ends meet.  We lived in a lovely English Tudor style home on a private road that was right off a major thoroughfare and were holding weekly garage sales selling things we could in order to try and stay in our home.   Though you all know Shawn mostly as a chef (how that came to be is another story), he was actually an incredibly successful entrepreneur with several business who had become a millionaire by the time he was 30 (that's also another story in itself!).  


 Ultimately we wound up losing my husbands businesses , our homes to foreclosure (ah ha you say... now you understand why we why we have lived in 7 different places in 10 years: foreclosure = bad credit = no home loan = rent a house), our cars, leaving the home we'd worked so hard to create and uprooting our kids not only from that home but from the private school we thought they would each attend from kindergarten to graduation.  Most of our 'friends' were parents of the kids our kids went to school with and when money was not to be had neither were friends.  They quit calling, and in turn quit inviting our kids over to play with their kids.  It was so difficult for me to lose my home, but seeing my kids lose their home and their friends was almost unbearable.  We became invisible to a lot of people real fast and learned that we didn't really have many friends at all.  We lost everything,  materially speaking, that we had and the past 10 years have been in much part spent living in recovery mode.  



The day I bought and picked up that transferware piece I'd purchased online I went home and began assessing what pieces I had in my small collection, including the one I'd just acquired, and started listing those pieces for sale online.  As they sold, I'd use the proceeds to either buy a piece of Vista that I wanted for myself, or moreover, to buy other pieces that I could turn around and sell for a small profit.  I was making bits of money here and there and was able to contribute a little to our families expenses.  I kept buying transferware and the more of it I bought and sold...well...the more of it I bought and sold.   That's when transferware became much more to me than a passion for collecting and decorating, it became a viable source of income for our family.  And...how fortunate that it was something I could do from home and be something that I was totally, totally into.  Seriously...how lucky am I to be able to say I LOVE my job???   My transferware business was completely unplanned, it has been a long and slow evolving process that just 'became'. It is a small business, but one that turned into our sole source of income for nearly two years. 

  As strange as it may sound, Transferware has been a true blessing in my life, and my families life in so many ways.  I am not able to secure a small business loan but  my plans are to continue to grow my business as I have been doing: slow and steady, all the while learning what I can about transferware.   Nearly three years ago I made a big move from selling on Ebay to selling solely on Etsy.  I began with approximately 300 pieces listed online and last Fall took that to about 1000.  Currently I am keeping my inventory at about 1100 unique items by almost daily listing items to my shop.  Etsy and blogging have been absolutely wonderful venues for me not only to sell the wares I offer but to pursue some of my creative interests, find like minded people (some of the most amazing people), and simply to share...share whatever it is on my mind or in my home... like I am so compelled to do today.


Now, all of this leads me to the big news I've been hinting at, and for those of you who were concerned that it was something bad...it is not.  It has to do with the phone call I mentioned in the first sentence, which was what really triggered in me the thoughts that I have kept placing on my minds back shelf for so long and which got the whole thought process going about where I came from before entering the blogosphere, the hardships my family has endured and about how my business has played a key role in where we are, where I am, who I am and who I still hope to become.


Tomorrow, I promise I'll finally share with you some details of my phone conversation with Beth Levison and my big news...exciting news!  It won't be a downer post, ok?


Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to read this, or any of my posts, and for giving me a voice.



~ Nancy


56 comments:

  1. Nancy - I loved this post. I think that is a very good reason to start a business. Can't wait to hear what your news is. I'm sure you've inspired many by this post as you have inspired me. I'm not at all where I thought I'd be 10 years ago. Sometimes you just have to get creative and see where things lead. My only regret is that I can't afford to buy any of your lovely transfer ware.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life that is really private. You give hope in this time of economic stress for many. My husband lost his job, but he is so happy now in what we do together. It has been a 'blessing in disguise' and has opened many doors we didn't even know were there. Keep you chin up and keep giving out hope.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you and your family.

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  4. Hi Nancy,
    I am glad you could share this post with us. I am sure many will be inspired by your story. Those "friends" you had were not really your friends, for true friends stick with you through thick or thin. They stand by you, encourage you, and love you no matter what!
    I'm so happy you have found a business selling something you truly love. I have looked at your merchandise many times and would love to order some pieces from you but unfortunately I live in Canada and to ship it here would be too expensive. Only for that, my dear, you would be hearing from me quite often. I adore red transferware and it is almost impossible to find here where I live.
    I am looking forward to your big news! Have a wonderful weekend.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  5. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you and your family.

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  6. Thank you for sharing. God is good all the time. Blessings to you and your family.

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  7. thank you- and many blessings. just looked at your etsy for the first time- holy smokes i'm in love!

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  8. What a marvelous post, and thank you for sharing. I'm sure there are many, many people reading it who have been through similar situations; how sad for 'friends' to turn away when they are needed most (I have faced this in an entirely different situation, some years ago). But what a wonderful, happy ending for you and your family. God always provides. I'm on the edge of my seat to see the post tomorrow!
    Nancy

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  9. Such an interesting story. I can't wait to read your exciting news tomorrow.

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  10. This is a post about courage to me, Nancy. I don't think there is anything you need to feel badly about. I think it shows the strength in you and Shawn {and your family} and how you persevere. I think it's a great story of how you came to sell transferware. It is obvious from your posts and your Etsy how much you love it!

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  11. Whe, i am wo glad you are ok....and i love your story. So much like how i grew up, much pain, but growth through that pain...blewwings dear lady...suek

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  12. Nancy~ what an inspiring story!! There are many women out there who have gone through or are currently going through something similar. We live in the day of the cottage industry saving families. I love reading stories of women succeeding through their own creativity. Good for you! I love your etsy shop. I have a few of your pieces and plan on more.
    Susie at Puddle Jumper Creations

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  13. What a touching and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing the tender part of your life. It will be a big help to the many, many people who stand in silent pain and are trying to find a way out just as you were with that first purchase of transferware. It may be in a different venue, but the strength of purpose and the inspiration of perseverance will be a beacon to those who feel lost in the journey. This makes me love transferware even more than I did before!

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  14. Oh honey, I'm so glad it wasn't health related or something with any member of your family...the rest, well, there you go, you're doing so well with your beautiful transferware business that I can relate transferware with you, like Cinderellas shoe! We too, four years ago had to sell our ceramic factory, where we made dishes and many other things, as business wasn't what it was twenty years ago. Thank you again for sharing your soft side and let it out with us, we are here for that too, not just to post and see pretty posts. I can't wait to hear the news you have! People that turn their backs on you, were not your friends, so who cares, right? They may have a turn in their lives, one never know! Lots of hugs, pretty Nancy.
    FABBY

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  15. Nancy this is certainly not a downer post! This is post about success in dealing with real life circumstances. You found something to not only help you heal emotionally from your circumstances but financially as well. I loved that your shared your story as I find it very encouraging for others as well!

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  16. Nancy, Living in Michigan we were one of the first area in the country to be hit by the economic turn down. Many families here have lost their homes and or business also . Your story is truly an inspiration on how to overcome adversity with grace and courage. I wish you nothing but the best for you and your family. Thanks you for sharing your story, Laura

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  17. I love it when people tell us about their life. For we all know life is not all wine and roses. This was an inspiring post, and I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Those people who left; they were not your friends. Friends are the ones who are there when life is falling apart. I've had a lot going on in my life too. Fell and broke and dislocated my ankle in early July and had a difficult surgery. Still recovering. Just started physical therapy today. Going to be a rather long haul. Hope to meet you soon. Course I can't drive for some time. But we'll catch up at some point.
    Brenda

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  18. Nancy, far from being a 'downer' post it is very inspiring.
    Looking forward to reading about your news>
    Rose H

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  19. Nancy, Many people are going through the same thing in this economy that you and your family did. I applaud you for your courage and I hope there are many wonderful things coming your way.

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  20. Nancy..through your transferware and conversations on Etsy I've learned to love what you do and the person you are. This sole post make me feel like I've known you forever and have a real connection human to human beyond what the cyber world allows people around the world to have. A good writer is able to do that, to involve the reader in their world a good person makes you part of their life through thick and thin always with dignity, honesty and a smile on her face even when tears are shed in the inside! You deserve all the happiness and goodness this world has to offer! Enjoy it! and Thank You so much for this lovely and touching post! Lizy...P.S...I'm still waiting to hear from that "transferware chicken" for my animal collection, lol =0)

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  21. This is an absolutely beautiful and touching post. My husband and I have been through some hard financial times as well, and we are planning on going into the antique/collectible business in a small way to help our income. So I can relate to everything you have said, and appreciate your honesty and baring your heart and soul.

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  22. Here's the dilly-yo, Nancy (sorry...I've been tooling around on that Urban Slang website!): "I'm sorry you have been sitting on this for so long. This kind of stuff can eat you from the inside out, girl! So glad you finally felt comfortable enough to share with all of us. Feels kinda good, doesn't it? Bottom line is that we all have something crazy embarrassing that has happened to us. While I didn't write a specific post about it, I opened up to many blogger friends and have mentioned on various posts about the nightmare my husband and I endured in Savannah, GA last year. It was without question one of the worst things that has ever happened to us as a couple barring family deaths and his child custody proceedings after his divorce. Like you, when we returned to Lee's Summit with (through no fault of our own except being WAY too trusting!) our tails between our legs and broke as the 10 Commandments, we found out who our real friends were. Our neighbors rallied and made sure we didn't feel like odd man out. Our families bolstered our strength to bounce back. Our TRUE friends gave us their assurance through their actions that they would be our rock for as long as we needed it. When I opened up to various blog friends and explained what had happened to us, there was no judgment. What there was was patience, understanding, comfort and support. I have no doubt in my mind that is all you will receive from this admission. Heck, you were simply in the same boat without a paddle as countless other Americans who have been treading these treacherous financial waters the last several years. My husband and I were probably in the boat right behind you, paddling like crazy! :-) I'm not trying to get all holy on you or anything, but I really honestly feel that God takes care of those who believe in Him and work with Him to pull themselves out of crazy crap with their head on straight and their dignity intact. I have a feeling that phone call was an end to your crazy crap. Get ready for all the future blessings. God bless ya, gal!

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  23. Nancy, thank you so much for sharing this, I can't even begin to tell you how closely our stories parallel each other. I so need to hear that there can be a happy ending, and I'm waiting on pins and needles to hear your good news. I wish you health, happiness, love, prosperity and Many Blessings, Hugs and hope, Shannon

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  24. And just one more thing: BRAVA, BRAVA, BRAVA!!!
    Nancy

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  25. Nancy:

    I feel so bad for you, not that all this happened, but that you have had it inside of you and haven't felt comfortable with sharing it. You are who you are, and as you yourself said, you found out who your true friends were. And...that there is nothing like family. It's terrible to have to endure what you've been through, but don't keep it pent up inside. It's a part of who you are. Blog land is a pretty cool place. Maybe the distance that is between each of allows us to be more reasonable, to be more understanding, and not judge. You've fallen on hard times. That's nothing to be embarrassed about.The most amazing and wonderful thing is how your love of dishes has been able to help your family through it all. Who would have thought? Clearly you are blessed.

    I'm anxious to hear your wonderful news tomorrow. Keep on going. You're clearly one strong lady.

    - Alma, The Tablescaper

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  26. Whew....that wasn't so bad after all!!! I was so worried!!! Thank you for sharing....so many of us have a similar story to tell and understand your struggles. Sometimes I'm in a boat without a paddle, sometimes a good breeze pushes me along and other times I just float!!! I'm holding those garage sales right now....

    You are a gifted writer and I've always loved your stories and poetry....can't believe you are shy or lack self confidence.....hooray for your courage, drive, creativity and oh my, look how you've held your family together!!!

    Friends don't turn their backs on you when the going gets tough, be done with them......you have real friends now. Can't wait to hear this exciting news, wishing you many blessings, hugs...cleo

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  27. Well i am thrilled for you Nancy! We have shared more than a few private conversations so this is not news to me, and I applaud you and your family for sticking together and fighting to get your life squared up. Sometimes we get challenged, and I think you have done an outstanding job! I am so happy for any good news, and you certainly deserve all that and more. xo

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  28. Nancy. I am totally blown away by you, your candid and honest poignant post and mostly your success. I love how you were able to take being in dire straits and turn it into something that you love, something that has meaning to you and obviously something you are incredibly passionate about. Sometimes its those very hardships where we think we cannot possibly take another step that empower us in the end to do things that we never thought possible. I can imagine how devastating that time of your life was.....and like you said to see the kids suffer is the ultimate pain for any parent. But it sounds like you are forging ahead and good things are coming your way again and that there is indeed a bright light at the end of the tunnel. You deserve all the good that is coming your way, I look forward to hearing the good news and will keep you in my prayers.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  29. Hi Nancy. I just recently started to follow your blog because of my love of china and dish ware. I had no idea about your life story but am grateful that you could share it here with us. You are an amazing woman who has made the best of the worst parts of your life. So I thank you for sharing your heart and life here and look forward to your exciting news in your next post. Blessings to you! Pamela

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  30. Nancy, you are not alone! Been in a similar situation after selling our home and purchasing a historic building in hopes of opening an artsy coffee house, right when the economy crashed. We lost everything and are just now back on our feet 4 years later. Junkin and finding beautiful things for pennies is what has kept me sane, and made our new house a home despite losing so much. There are few people who understand how junk and antiques are blessings in our lives and not just idle hobbies. Thank you for your honesty!

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  31. Hello Nancy
    Your story is so touching. Thank you for sharing with all of us... Take care and be proud of what you & your Family have come through. I am off to check out your Etsy items.

    Wanda

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  32. Nancy, you and Shawn have a beautiful family. Together you have faced difficulties and no doubt become stronger individuals because of it. I admire you! And now even more so!!! You are a talented lady, generous of spirit and beautiful inside and out. I'm can hardly wait to hear the exciting news........Hugs ~ Sarah

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  33. Just one word for you from a reader. BRAVO!!

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  34. Nancy, This took courage to share what has clearly been a not-so-pefect part of your life. But you have taken a negative and turned it into a positive. You didn't give up! You forged on..that takes one strong lady! Pat yourself on your back...I can't wait to hear you big news!

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  35. What a brave post. I {heart} you! and now I'm off to read the news... but I wanted to read this first. Marcy

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  36. There is nothing negative about such an honest and inspiring post! You have given a voice to many who don't have one and a face to all those who have struggled through hard times. That you were able to pick yourself up and turn your passion into income, gives hope to so many who need it. ~ Maureen

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  37. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. Truly inspiring!

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  38. What an incredible story, and now I now I have a bit more insight into your kind comment on my blog post on being content with my wee little house. I love real and honest blogs. Thanks so much.

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  39. Dear Nancy, I was very moved by your words (and your courage) and can only say that while I know things have been difficult, it's been clear from your posts over the year I've been reading them that your family is what's really important to you. And the fact that you've weathered this difficult phase in your life together is no doubt a huge source of strength and a testament to your love for one another. It's so wonderful that you've been able to take something you enjoy so much (and are so good at and knowledgeable!) and use it to contribute to your family's well being and economic recovery. As for those friends.... they weren't really your friends and you are well rid of fair-weather types who don't truly care about YOU as a person. Take good care. I'm looking forward to reading your good news now! *hugging*

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  40. Nancy,

    Thank you so much for your story. I admire your honesty and know how hard it is to be honest when things like those terrible things that have happened to you (and me) have happened. I love your blog and am also a big transferware collector. I started collecting over 25 years ago when I was really young. Once I got married and started my career, which was very successful for quite awhile, I was traveling to England annually to buy more pieces and to sight see there - like the Spode factory tour that I really enjoed and recommend. But once this recession hit, my career stalled (I am in commercial real estate) and we have been in jeopardy of losing our home twice already since 2008 and since I was part of a reduction in force from Bank of America in March 2012, we are in trouble again. I have modified our mortgage twice already and hope I will land a new position soon, so I can do it again because we don't want to lose our home. We have one son in third grade, in private school, and we have let a lot of things go to keep him there because he is so smart and the school is fantastic. We have also started selling our things on Ebay and Craig's List to raise money and it is not fun. We have lost firends and had friends stop making play dates with our son. We spent almost everything on medical treatments over 10 years to have our son and so we have little to fall back on now. So I just wanted you to know I love your blog and you are not alone. Have faith in the value of your work and your blog and keep up the great work. I just try to keep looking forward and keep my faith in God and my belief in good fortune for good work. I hope the same for you. Thank you for your work on this wonderful blog.

    Leslie

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  41. Hi Nancy!

    I visit you often but do not always leave a comment. I have just read about your wonderful news and backtracked to read this post as I was curious to why you started selling transferware.

    While reading this post I saw the link to your very first post. I see that I was the second one to leave a comment. I want to share this comment again:


    "Bunny Jean's Decor... and More!March 20, 2010 10:22 AM
    I want to thank you for visiting me and giving me the opportunity to find YOU!

    I was up very late last night browsing your Etsy site and reading many of your posts.

    I am a follower and will be placing your button on my sidebar!

    Talk to you soon ;)
    Bunny Jean"


    Please know that I am still as much of a fan as I was in the very beginning!

    Congratulations to you and I am so appreciative that you have shared more of your personal story.

    xoxo Bunny Jean

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  42. Nancy - thank you for being brave enough to open up and write about your journey. I'm sure it was very hard to admit "to the world" about how you lost everything you had. How awful that your so-called friends abandoned you, especially in your time of need! You didn't say, but I'm hoping you had family or TRUE friends that kept you in their lives? Maybe somehow helped you and your family? Are you guys back on your feet now?

    BTW, I found you through Brenda's link on Cozy Little House. God bless you as you go forward with your transferware business!

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  43. Nancy, I just read about this through Cozy Little House. This post is so inspirational and a blessing to me. Thank you for sharing with us. We are going through some rough times and you have just made my day. Thank you again for your honesty, integrity and your wonderfully huge heart in sharing with us.

    I am following you now as I can't wait to hear your next announcement ;-)

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  44. This is truly and encouraging post. I loved reading it. I just started an etsy shop. I'm really 'wet behind the ears', so to speak...and am wanting it to take off. I love reading encouraging accounts such as yours. I can't wait to read the rest of it. I came here tonight from Brenda @ Cozy Little House...
    and I'm off to see if you've posted part 2 of your incredible story!
    So nice to meet you, Pat

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  45. Wow Nancy! How exciting!!! It couldn't have happened to a nice person. Thank you for sharing your story about how you got started in the business. I know a lot of people have been through tough times, and they can relate. I think the thing that upset me the most was how your friends turned their backs on you. Shameful! Well anyway, wishing you all the best!

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  46. What an amazing post. I have been following you for almost two years and must say what courage you and your family have. Pat on the back for starting your own small business and its continuous success. Only good day ahead my friend. Hugs, Diane

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  47. What a wonderful post, and very inspiring. I'm sorry you have had to go through such turmoil, but your grit and determination are the qualities that make this country great! I hope you have continued and even greater success!

    Patty

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  48. Although I've been a follower of your post, this one I initially missed. So glad to find it now. You and I have traveled very similar paths...mine initiated a number of years earlier. So many things are swirling through my head after reading. I love the teaching that sometimes God calms the hurricane and sometimes God calms His child in the midst of a hurricane. I see that in you. I know from our experiences that those who abandoned your family and you were never really your friends to begin with...they were social acquaintances, and I've learned that it's really valuable to recognize the difference. I know that our true friends are really gifts from God...treasures for which I am eternally thankful. Billy Graham said one time (and I'm paraphrasing)..."Isn't it interesting how the greatest, most poignant and valuable witnessness come not from people's triumphs, but from their times of weakness, their failures, their moments of greatest pain." I've perused your comments here, and I see that you are living proof of the scripture "God will comfort you and in turn use you to comfort others."...such a magnificent gift and opportunity. Today, I've observed that you are 'good clay." Well done and thank you. Cherry Kay

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  49. Thanks for sharing your story! Tough times don't last forever, do they! Glad that you found a passion and that it has turned into such a lovely business.

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  50. Nancy, I knew you were an incredible lady, and you are proof that good things can happen when your soul leads you.

    Thank you for sharing, my sweet friend.♥ I am happy that you have this in your life.

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  51. What a wonderful story ! Very inspiring! :)

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  52. Nancy, thank you for sharing your life. Many of us have experienced similar events. (especially with a recession) It is hard to lose a home--but it is just somewhere to live. You are so fortunate to know what is really important: 1)married to the love of your life (and still have him), 2)have a lovely family-- full of children to share holidays and events (I know as a mother of 4 sons--joy & heartache). 3)Turn an interest or expertise into a business-self fulfillment. Bless you for being an inspiration to others. I have purchased from you on ETSY and love reading your blog. I look forward to following you!

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  53. I am very affected by your personal history, you deserve to make a success of your company, and to have a lot of happiness in your life; I wish it to you of any heart!
    People who like the others for it they possess are not interesting, and do not know the real value of the life, those whom you lost were not thus friends!
    I wish you the best, and to your family; good continuation!

    Beautiful day

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  54. Dear Nancy, it is through adversity that we find our true selves. Your resilience and ingenuity are just part of what makes you special. I don't get to your blog as often as I would like to lately, but just knowing that you're there (and still so close to my house in Tulsa!) is a pleasant comfort. I wish you much success and hope to contact you soon as I need a wall arrangement for my dining room.
    As for those fools who abandoned you and your family in your time of need, I can't help but think of the saying that life is all about mind over matter. Those who matter, don't mind and those who mind, don't matter. Have faith!

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  55. You GO girl!!!! I am so proud of you and really glad to have been a client here and there.
    I know it broke your heart about the kids, but they are amazingly resourceful varmints, and it probably didn't hurt them as much as it did you!!! I have three that lived through very similar circumstances, and they are great adults because of the trials and tribulations and the things they learned!
    Blessings to all of you,
    J

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  56. You GO girl!!!! I am so proud of you and really glad to have been a client here and there.
    I know it broke your heart about the kids, but they are amazingly resourceful varmints, and it probably didn't hurt them as much as it did you!!! I have three that lived through very similar circumstances, and they are great adults because of the trials and tribulations and the things they learned!
    Blessings to all of you,
    J

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