I've never been much on the hard sell. This leads to some interesting questions when it comes to launching an eCommerce site, especially during the holidays.
The marketing experts tell me that I should tell you that you have a problem. That Whimsey Sky's products can solve it. That I should make you feel unsatisfied and the only way to fix it is to buy a mug from our store. And this time of year, that's pretty easy to do. It's so easy to believe that we're only being a good parent-partner-friend-etc. if we buy the perfect gift.
And, the truth is, If you have a coffee drinker in your life, a mug might be a great gift. Tempting.
The thing is, that's not the way I operate. I mean, I enjoy problem solving, and I definitely hope you enjoy our products enough to make a purchase. And, of course, I have gifting suggestions included in my product descriptions because if you happen upon Whimsey Sky in search of a gift, we may have what you're looking for.
But I also think that there are too many messages out there already to tell you that you're incomplete, unfulfilled, obligated, or otherwise not enough. And while I do delight in finding the perfect gift, I believe that means a gift that shows someone I get them, that plays on our connections to each other, and that may not come with a price tag. It may be a recipe for a dish I've made that they enjoyed, or a handmade ornament commemorating something special that happened that year.
I'm sure that as Whimsey Sky grows, and as we face more holidays together, I'll get more comfortable with inviting you to take a look at our offerings. In fact, I'm planning to share the story of the "Round Trip" paintings as we get closer to Valentine's Day, but that's because for me the artwork connects with both the joy of loving my partner and the emptiness of being without a partner. It's a chance to share something authentic about the art near a day that evokes the feelings I had when I painted it.
And this is how I operate. I care about building connections. My hope is that you connect with the art, or know someone who will, and that this will be the motivation for your purchase. Because you're not incomplete. You can live perfectly fulfilled without my mugs and notebooks. They're here for you if they can serve to remind you of that - of who you are, or of the magic that it is to simply be human in this complicated world. They may bring you joy, but they won't make you whole. That's something you do for yourself in the daily practice of being who you are.
So this is my holiday message, whatever the marketing experts may say, and whatever holiday you may be celebrating: I wish you connection with the people who matter and the knowledge that you are enough. You are the gift.
I love giving gifts that give back, especially when I find a present that supports a cause that matters to someone I love. Here are some of the organizations I've given or received from for several years. I hope they help you make your holidays feel a little more meaningful.
It all started with the notebooks.
Well, really, it started with the paintings.
Most of the artwork in Whimsey Sky’s opening line made me giggle as I painted. I thought I was painting for children’s décor, and that’s still coming, but the truth is I was painting to uncover my own sense of whimsey and wonder. The world was hard and getting harder, and I needed to cloister with joy and mystery and playfulness under the weight of it all.
That was in 2015, a year before the world went dark for my husband. Kidney failure followed shortly after his vision loss. My daughter spent her teen years with the uncertainty of terminal illness hanging over the house. A dear friend matched as a donor. In 2019, he saved my husband’s life. Exactly one year later, my dad would be taken off life support after developing sepsis and organ failure. All of this ushered me into a period of holding space for the grief of hundreds of my students who lost family members to the pandemic. Then, in 2021, I had brain surgery.
In the midst of all this, I let go of painting to attend to the urgent humanness of the moment.
But I kept telling stories.
I told stories on our private social media group to keep friends and family updated on my husband’s health, on a public social media page to rehome my parents’ dog Max, in fiction whenever I could sit down to it, and to myself when I had to make sense of it all.
And regardless where my stories end up, they almost always start in a notebook.
This is where I process the hard stuff, grow past the coping skills that don’t serve me anymore, develop ideas for novels and short pieces, brainstorm new curriculum for my students, and take notes when I have the chance to attend seminars and courses.
So, earlier this year, when the crack had widened enough for the light to come in, it had to be notebooks. I soft launched Whimsey Sky in July, 2022 with a line of 22 notebooks featuring art and words that soothe my soul.
Notebooks sit at the intersection of learning, artmaking, and storytelling, and I can’t think of a better place to begin Whimsey Sky’s journey than to offer you space to chronicle yours.