I sent out a newsletter announcement on Friday, and clicking “Send” was harder than I thought. In fact, I walked away and came back after picking the kids up from school, because I needed it to sit for a minute before I sent it out. I was letting thousands–literally–of people know that I am closing the Whipstitch bricks-and-mortar shop in Atlanta as of the end of this month.
Just to reassure everyone: the blog is continuing. The online classes will continue. I will teach in person. I might even write another book. But the physical shop is closing and won’t re-open.
This was, I’m sure you know, a super difficult decision to make. And there is no way I can tell you that it was entirely due to one factor or another–there were a lot of issues at play and they all formed a part in me choosing to close the shop. There were also a lot of factors that made me hesitate and delay closing, and I struggled with those two opposing forces for weeks and weeks and weeks. In the end, it took an epiphany for me to finally know for certain that it was time to let the shop go.
I love the store. I love what it represents and I love what it makes possible. I have been un-endingly grateful for the freedom to invite some of my dear friends from all over the country to come and visit and teach and promote their own businesses. I have loved the 1000+ individuals who have walked through the store and taken classes with us, and who send me emails and leave me comments telling me how sewing has impacted their life and that Whipstitch was a part of that. I feel humbled and honored to know that something that I feel passionately about has affected others so deeply that they feel moved to take time from their day to thank me. It is almost overwhelming to know that something I would do for fun can have that kind of impact on others, and I have felt so strongly and so deeply that teaching sewing and sharing it with others is my vocation in the truest sense of the word: a calling, an irresistible impulse to reach outside myself and draw others in. I still believe that, and still find such joy in writing about sewing, in teaching sewing, in creating things with needle and thread, in watching others learn this thing that has meant so much to me for longer than I was really aware.
Here’s the thing: I am the only mother my children will ever have. I am the only wife my husband has. And while I have owned the store, I have felt a pulling between the two. I don’t sense that pull with the other parts of Whipstitch. Not from writing books. Not from writing the blog. Not from designing patterns. I feel it from owning a store, which called me to be away physically to tend to it, or mentally and emotionally to keep the wheels turning. In the end, it meant I was giving everyone a little and no one a lot, and while I get plenty of emails asking me how I “do it all,” in fact, I wasn’t doing it all. I was doing it partly, and when it came to my family, I was doing less than I wanted. Too many times asking my children to wait, not enough of saying, “Yes, we can do that RIGHT NOW.”
Our lives have seasons. When it comes to the season of my life in which I have owned a bricks-and-mortar shop, I have no regrets–I have made more meaningful friendships and met more people who I value deeply during this season of my life than nearly any other since my childhood. These three years have made such an enormous impact on me that I sit here with tears on my cheeks thinking of all that I have learned and felt and hoped and experienced as a direct result of owning this store. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on a single second of that, and I am grateful every day that I have been given the honor of being part of something so much bigger than I am. The big insight for me is that I recognize that I don’t want to miss out on my children, either, and I for sure don’t want to miss out on my marriage. This is not the season of my life for me to do both, and as deeply as I love the shop, I love my family more.
The shop has been a huge part of my every day for three years, and I will miss it. I’m excited about what closing the bricks-and-mortar will mean for Whipstitch moving forward, though–so many plans and ideas and sketches and lists that have been on the back burner, waiting until I had the time to bring them to life. My online classes, which continue to grow and develop; my patterns, which I have neglected but am already working to expand; another book, if they’ll let me write one, since I would dearly love to; and even some secret dreams and ideas that I’ve toyed with but knew I could never tackle with a shop open. It’s a new season, and while it’s scary to watch the old season pass, I’m excited to see what the new one will bring.
I hope you’ll join me in saying farewell to the West Atlanta location before we lock the doors one last time. I’m throwing a party on Friday, March 22 at 7 pm and I’d love to see you. If you live anywhere near the Atlanta area, please drive over and visit and wave to the tiny disco ball and give me the chance to hug you and thank you one last time for all that this shop has meant to me over the past three years. I want the chance to see as many faces as possible so that I can express to you in person exactly how huge this experience has been to me, how grateful I feel that I was given such a treasured opportunity, and how much I look forward to new chances for us to see one another and to be surprised and excited about what comes next.
What: Whipstitch of West Atlanta closing party
When: Friday, March 22 at 7 pm
Who: Anyone and everyone is invited! No RSVP necessary.