Thursday, January 19, 2012

Did That All REALLY Just Happen??!!

One of our new sets!  -This Thing Called Family

Thursday night of the Atlanta Market, Demdaco invited us to a meet and mingle event where we got to connect + express our gratitude to the business owners that carry our line.  We are so thankful to them all!!!  They have so many awesome products to choose from at market.  It's humbling that anybody ever picks ours.

Business owners "shop" TTCF + place their orders.  Sales reps use handheld devices to scan the products they choose.

We also had the privilege of meeting some other artists and designers - some of whom we've been fans of for a long time, others who are now our new favorites! Meeting these artists was a totally surreal experience.  These are successful women who have made a name for least in our little art world  :-)  - and they're all a few steps ahead of us in this journey.  These are people who we admire because of their creativity and passion.  They've worked hard and actively pursued their goals to make a success and a living at this whole art thing.  And then here we are, having stumbled our way into this licensing gig.  (Demdaco found us!  How often does THAT happen?!) We're just regular moms first, who are so very fortunate to be in a position where we can do what we love to do, as much or as little as we want, or as our time allows.  It's just our way of expressing ourselves and being a blessing to others. 

New! This Thing Called Family

Anyway, I was a little intimidated to meet this group of artists.  I thought I'd come away feeling like I'd rubbed elbows with the "rich and famous."  I'd put these women on a pedestal as these unachievably perfect, totally together, successful people who I could never be like.  I don't know why I thought this way - it wasn't anything they did or didn't do.  I guess it's just what you tend to do when you only know someone from facebook and blog world! 

New! This Thing Called Family

INSTEAD,  as I met and visited with these artists, I quickly realized something.  They're real people.  Genuine, honest-to-goodness, real, down-to-earth people!  And I don't say that to minimize any of their achievements because they STILL have our undying admiration and we're STILL big fans of their work.  But these gals are more like us than I ever thought they would be!  They get nervous doing stuff like this.  They have goofy senses of humor or are self-proclaimed dorks - just like us!  They are content to work on top of their washer and dryer - just like Green Girl works at her kitchen island - because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO: ya work with whatchya got.  They worry about how they'll manage to balance family and art too. They feel all the same pulls and don't always know what to do about it, don't always make the right choice, but they give themselves a little grace and they re-prioritize and somehow it all ends up OK.  They admire our artwork as much as we admire theirs.  They felt like instant friends.  There were no egos involved or competition.  Just authenticity and mutual admiration of kindred spirits.  I know it sounds cheesy.  But GOOD cheesy. That's really how it felt!  I know we've begun a connection from here on out that is more than hitting the "like" button on their latest status updates.  I'm already looking forward to future face to face visits and to rooting for them in all their artistic endeavors.      

The first artist we met by venturing out of the Demdaco showroom to her very own brand new space in the Darrah&Co. showroom.  Her name is Michelle Allen:

She's the artist behind Allen Designs.  We love her spirit!  You can visit her blog and website to see her playful, colorful art.  We're big fans of her owls, clocks and soap spitters!  She has her own little team of employees, develops products to be manufactured + ships from her warehouse/studio. It's been so interesting and a lot of fun to watch her journey.

Another high point: meeting artist Marjolein Bastin. From Holland to the US, her detailed nature artwork has connected with people all over the world through her partnerships with Demdaco and Hallmark. Plus our grandma, Mamma Winger's mom, has always been a huge fan. So this was a special moment for Connie! AND us girls grew up reading + loving Vera the Mouse, which she created! Thanks for sharing such special pieces of wisdom with us, Marjolein!

Connie (caught in a tearful moment) and Marjolein.

Here we are with our product developer at Demdaco - Kate (it's been a blast working with her - she's full of great ideas!) and Holly Christine the artist behind Colorful Devotions

Connie, Kate, Laura, Holly, Jill

Go check out Holly's website to find out more about her - she's super nice!  It felt like we already knew each other - just that indescribable 'somethin' - I'm pretty sure that's got something to do with Jesus. :-)  She sells many of her own products on her website, so we got to pick her brain about what that's like.  Sounds like a lot of work!
Holly's line, Colorful Devotions, was displayed in such a fun and colorful way in the Demdaco showroom!

Another artist that was a complete surprise to meet was Jessica Swift.  It's a good thing that we all had badges with our names on them.  We recognized her name right away. (We follow her blog and facebook page.)  My opening line was, "Hey!!! Where are your rainboots?!  You're not wearing any!"  I'm subtle like that.  But seriously, go check her out - she's a very talented surface designer and artist who has the greatest pattern and color sense. 
Holly, Connie, Jessica, Laura, Jill

We laughed our butts off with artist Cindy Wunsch of Studio Be.  We knew right away we were going to like her because she just tells it like it is.  And with her southern accent, she totally pulls it off!  She has a studio in Nashville where she teaches classes + invites other artists to come teach as well. She asked us if we'd ever be interested in teaching a class..... 

Connie, Cindy, Laura, Jill

Cindy's line is brand new this year and the showroom staging for it was wonderful - she even got one of the window displays!

Studio Be

It was a long time dream to meet Kelly Rae Roberts.  The success of her collection with Demdaco paved the way for other original mixed media artists and sent Demdaco soaring into a new, pioneering, creative direction.  Now they are working with all kinds of mixed media artists with unique stories to tell.  We're just excited to be a teeny tiny part of it and to witness and root for the journeys of other artists.  We just knew that our paths would cross someday and it finally happened! 

Here's just a small portion of the stunning KRR vignettes in the showroom:

More and more of us artists began coming together to visit  (I think we have some kind of creative force field) until finally THIS happened:

There are 5 ladies in this picture above that I have not mentioned yet.  And although we only got to meet them briefly, we're just as big of fans of their work!

In the back left hand corner is Lori Siebert.  She is the designer of the very successful glassware line Sylvestri Glass Fusion.  

Next to her in the back is Megan Halsey who created the line Farm Fresh - a line of giftware with a Farmer's Market/Organic theme.   

In the front left hand corner is Caroline Simas.  She is so sweet!  Her new line, Multiple Blessings, debuted at this market and it's so fun and colorful!    

Next to Caroline is Sharon Feldstein.  She is the creator of Story Squares - a colorful collection of toppers and squares that you can mix and match to tell your own story with art.

Last in the picture, but certainly not least, is Leigh Standley, over in the back, right hand corner.  She is THE Curly Girl!  This gal has a great sense of humor + a unique voice that shines through in her work.  She owns a shop in the Boston area called Marmalade.  We were so excited when she told us that she carries some of TTCF in her shop!!!

If you take time to visit all of these ladies sites, you'll quickly see that they've ALL got a LOT more going on than the lines I mentioned - they're busy doing all kinds of amazing things all over the place!  
 What a lot of talent and accomplishments all squished together into one photograph!  It's amazing that my camera didn't catch on fire!

One final highlight to mention was meeting Susan Lordi earlier in the day, but somehow we forgot to get a picture!!!  She is the creator of Willow Tree and was one of the first artists to begin creating for Demdaco in 1999.  She helped shape it into one of the top companies in the gift industry today. She shared a bit about her philosophy and process behind creating each sculpture. Each piece is personal + conveys a feeling or emotion. She hand-carves each original, then a mold is taken from her original. It was a pleasure to meet Susan! Here's a picture of part of the Willow Tree display in the Atlanta showroom:

That night, after meeting all of these gorgeous people, we laid in our hotel beds (Mamma Winger and I ended up sharing the king and Green Girl got the roll-away because she's a major blanket hog who won't share - I know you were all wondering who ended up where.....And did you know that the Four Seasons only has rooms with either 2 twin - yes - TWIN beds, or 1 king?  There are no rooms with 2 doubles! Weird, huh?)  Anyway, we laid in our king bed and our roll-away and we said to each other, "Did that all REALLY just happen???!!!"  

New! This Thing Called Family

We are so, so, SO grateful to be a part of this Demdaco family!

New! This Thing Called Family

*Special big thanks to Jonathan, Cultural Conversation Leader at Demdaco, who asked us what we'd like to get out of being in Atlanta and when we said 'meet some other artists,' went out of his way to introduce us to several people we wouldn't have otherwise met! 



  1. What an amazing time you gals had. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

  2. How exicting! I only found your blog yesterday, and am so glad I did. I'm glad you didn't mind me sharing your list on my blog. I thought it was just beautiful. Thank you for coming over to visit and say Hello. I'm currently doing an e-course that features Kelly Rae Roberts (Build a Blog You Love led by Liv Lane). I love the connections I make with creative people through blogging. Em x

  3. Everything about this post made me SMILE!!! I loved every word. And I LOVE Kelly Rae Robert's stuff! So fun!

  4. i LOVE this post and i LOVED meeting you girls! i think you're right on about the Jesus thing;)

  5. Loved this post too and agree, it was such fun being able to meet everyone and celebrate with each other. Aren't we blessed to do what we love? Demdaco certainly knows how to make us feel like a creative family. Stay in touch! xo Caroline

  6. you guys are just too awesome! you bring a smile to my face just thinking about you. LOVE that piece that you just did the contest for!

  7. Thanks so much for posting all this! It was wonderful meeting your family, and now when I see you here in Atlanta again I'll feel like we're ALL family.

  8. What a blessing! Looks like fun discovering and using the gifts God has blessed you with---especially with other sisters in the Lord!
    With Jesus' Compassion 4 America! (& the world!!)
    Love, Soteria (& Jesus!!)