I’ve always been interested in sewing and how fabric works. When I was nine I asked my parents for a Barbie. I didn’t want to send her on a date with Ken, I wanted to make clothes for her. They politely explained that was a toy for girls, and bought me a G.I. Joe instead. He was an astronaut, so I took his parachute and cut a hole in the middle to make a skirt for him. When they saw me twirling him to watch the fabric swish, I had a Barbie within a week. I took her to the family Christmas at my grandparent’s farm, and my Grandmother gave me some quilt scraps to sew with. As I tucked and stitched on tiny garments I heard my grandmother tell my mother “Marie, someday he’s going to do something with that talent.” Things haven’t changed much. The dressforms around me are life-size Barbies and I have a stash of fabric my Grandmother would be proud of.
I claim that I taught myself to sew, but realistically, many talented people influenced me over the years- I spent twenty years as a Costume Designer in professional Regional Theatre, and eventually opened my own business, “Cast of Thousands Costume Studio” in Little Rock. In Theatre I learned to “figure it out fast and cheap”, not to mention the amount of sewing I did in a day, every day, gave me incredible speed. What I learned by the age of thirty-five was that Theatre was hard work, long hours, and not much money. I asked myself what kind of setting I wanted to be in by age fifty, and the answer was “out of the city, and into the country”. I left Little Rock for what I thought would just be the Summer of ’97 and headed for the mountains of Northwest Arkansas.
I met a sweet woman who managed a boutique in Fayetteville, and she persuaded me to design a line of clothing for mature women that she would carry in her store. She taught me that clothing should be simple in design, timeless, with one great detail. I decided I would use nothing but natural fabrics, and concentrate on my love of linen. I still remember the excitement of establishing a “line” of basic garments, searching out great colors, ordering labels, and the rush I got when someone actually purchased something. Once Amy phoned me from the store yelling “I just sold eleven garments to the same woman!” When she left town and the boutique closed, I turned my shared studio space into a boutique and was in business for myself (again) for five years right on the town square.
I’m still not sure how I got from Fayetteville to Eureka Springs- the transition involved a relationship and purchasing a run-down farm, and in my memory was like a gay version of “Green Acres”. I still plan to write the book when I retire.
Like most everyone here in this quirky little town, I came many years ago as a tourist and vowed I would move here someday to live among the gorgeous mountain scenery and the interesting people who all came for the same reason. The first thing I learned was that the normal rules of business do not apply here in a town that has customers seven or eight months of the year. I tried several locations, all demanding that I be “Mr Retailer/ Tour Guide” until just this year, when my latest incarnation landed me in a lovely studio on White street, known for being a district of artists working in homes and studios all the way up the block- selling their products in galleries, online, or the annual “White Street Art Walk” in May. My studio is next door to my home, where my precious dog, plotting cats and wonderful partner (also an established artist) are always patiently waiting for me to put down the scissors and come home.
I am very fortunate to be able to support myself with what I see as my passion and my talent. I have a serious love of all things of beauty, particularly those in nature, and I bring that to my designs. Living in the Ozarks, I see beauty everywhere I look. I suppose I could pursue fame and fortune, but now that I’m well past fifty, I choose to focus on what’s really important in life- A simple, beautiful existence.
Thank-you for reading, and I hope you feel special in your Regalia.