Thursday, September 30, 2010

Siren Song Stitchery

I guess I never mentioned owning my own yarn/needlework shop on here, so bear with my ramblings. It all began in the spring of 2001...

For the previous 6 years I had been working as a financial advisor with Edward Jones in my own branch office in Beaverton, Oregon. Moving to the Northwest to run that office was a huge leap from our Southwest roots at the time, having lived the previous 8 years in New Mexico. I had fallen in love with everything Oregon had to offer and we adapted to the rain pretty easily.

The mid to late 90's was an exciting, yet highly stressful time helping investors with all the stock craziness. I had managed to build a successful business (at the expense of time with my daughters, my health and any home life) but dreamed of giving it all up and moving to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. I made steps in that direction from putting up a poster-sized photo looking down the coast at CB right over my desk to buying a small weekend beach house in Seaside and a residential lot in Cannon Beach I someday hoped to build on.

In the late spring of 2001 we were spending the weekend in the Seaside house and wandering around Cannon Beach, when I spotted a "For Rent" sign in the window of a prime retail space on the main street where the tourists hung out. One thing led to another and I ended up leaving the investment world, moving to the coast with my middle daughter, Jade (ready to start high school that coming fall), and opening my own needlework shop. I've taken a lot of risks in my life, but that was the most difficult decision I ever made - I was terrified I had made a huge mistake. In addition, we accepted an offer on the Seaside house that was too good to pass up and I had to get a home built on the Cannon Beach lot so we had a place to live at the same time.

I called my shop "Siren Song Stitchery" with the tagline "DO WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVE WHAT YOU DO" and the original business model only involved cross-stitch, needlepoint and embroidery kits and supplies. I designed a mermaid logo, painted the space a beachy blue/green, filled it with fun merchandise and opened the doors on July 28, 2001, hoping the money I had socked away to cover the bills for the first year would hold out.

Less than 2 months later, 9/11 happened. After the initial shock, it became apparent that people were seeking solace in crafts and needlework and business was good. About that time, my mother noted that her knitter friends spent an awful lot of money on yarn and suggested I add knitting supplies to my inventory. I had never learned to knit or crochet and couldn't see how that would work when I was barely familiar with those crafts. How could I assist my customers buying supplies or give the advice/instruction necessary?

Nevertheless, I could see that was the right move, so added knitting and crocheting supplies to my shop. About that same time I took another giant leap of faith and finances and moved to a stand-alone building almost twice the size (and double the rent) of my original place. I poured everything I had into filling the new space and teaching myself to knit from a beginning knitting brochure and Debbie Stoller's first Stitch 'N Bitch book.

The business grew and prospered and the seeds of my knitting obsession were planted. I hired several employees to help and I spent my days working with other devoted knitters, gradually shifting to a yarn shop from a needlework shop. In the 9 months of rainy evenings I sat by the fire and knitted shop models and yarn samples as my knitting skills improved. I put out a shop newsletter and held classes and a weekly knitting group as the shop expanded and improved. We were totally riding the knitting/crocheting wave that followed 2001.

Several things happened simultaneously that led me away from beach life after six years. My husband still lived over in Portland with my youngest daughter (80 miles away) and my middle daughter had been off at college for a year. The lease was about to expire on the shop building, both our homes were worth ridiculous amounts (right as the real estate bubble was about to burst) and the isolation of the coast and never-ending stress of running the business was starting to wear on me. It was time for a change.

We ended up selling both homes, Siren Song Stitchery, my husband's business and relocating to east Texas. I sold the shop and it was renamed "Coastal Yarns". It still exists today in Cannon Beach near my first location on Hemlock Street. Meanwhile, we built our dream home, invested the real estate money and planned to semi-retire. I was going to while away the days designing knitting patterns but that was not to be.

To be continued...

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