I was home in Birmingham and back at my job, baking and barista-ing. I was still spending a bit of time in Patrick’s shop here and there, and I’d become a member of a community print shop in Atlanta, as well. Additionally, I’d found a rural studio a couple hours west of Birmingham that permitted me use of their presses on occasion.
I started a greeting card project called “Calendartines,” and designed and printed a valentine for each month of the year. March featured a lion and a lamb walking across the calendar with a line of text that read, “Let’s March together.” September’s read, “I’m taking note of you,” with a pencil and sheet of notebook paper.
It was fun and silly, and a great way to continue learning. I began selling my cards at the coffee shop where I worked and in a few other shops around town. When I had built up a little confidence, I accepted my first wedding invitation.
The thought of taking someone’s money for my still-imperfect execution of printed goods was nothing short of terrifying. I remember my hands shaking as I stood in front of the press with just enough expensive paper to print the final quantity of invitations I needed with little room for error. The pressure was great.
Thankfully, the couple were friends and both supportive and understanding. Through gritted teeth and with heart racing, I completed the job in Gordo, Alabama in a six-hour-straight printing frenzy and drove home exhausted, but on fire.
I was doing it. It was scrappy and sporadic, but I was I was chasing this interest wherever it took me.
Over the next year, it was more of the same. I started taking more and more wedding work, and by the summer of the following year, I had built up a bit of a custom and card business. In addition to my friends, family, and church, I felt an incredible support from the creative community in Birmingham. Besides Patrick, I was really the only one doing letterpress, and it was still ‘new’ enough to be intriguing and I was happy to share what little I knew.
I garnered attention from designers, photographers, and business owners curious to learn more. Even as I was learning, I felt people come alongside me and root for me as I followed what fellow printer, Amos Printer, called “my bliss.” It was truly unbelievable how many times people trusted with me when I wasn’t even 100% sure I could do what they were asking me to do.
Everything was an experiment, and it never got less scary to say yes and take someone’s check.
In June of that year, I was turning 25. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I woke up to rain, and feeling such a weight upon me. I’d been alive a quarter of a century and what did I have to show for myself? I was making pennies at my job. I had an interest, but no real means to make anything of it, and no idea how to propel myself to the next level, whatever that meant.
Other friends of mine were well under way in their careers, building their savings, getting married and making adult decisions. And I felt like I was stuck behind the start line. Instead of celebrating the wins, and recounting God’s provision, I pouted and despaired and cried.
I had no idea that tides were already shifting.
I started applying for “real” jobs at that point. I had a journalism degree that I didn’t think should go to waste, and perhaps some earning potential that I wasn’t capitalizing on. When a friend mentioned a job opening back at Southern Progress (this time at Southern Living), I bit the bullet, put my business-girl pants back on, and went in for an interview.
I wasn’t entirely sure why I was doing it, but I knew I needed some financial security, health benefits, and a direction. Through a series of interviews, I was offered a job on the editorial travel team and I put in my notice at the coffee shop.
The switch back to office life was a rude awakening. I’d grown quite accustomed to my freedom and I missed the social component of my previous position. But, the new job was interesting and provided me with some unique opportunities to be creative in a different way.