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.
TiphaineMarch 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm
waou !!! You are so courageous !!! What a choice this must be…I I wish you good luck for this new path….this new journey.
It is not an end, it is the continuation of a life, your life.
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 10:55 am
Thank you so much for saying that! I feel the same way: this isn’t the end, it’s another way of looking at the whole. I’m excited about the new things on the horizon! 🙂
KatyMarch 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm
I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to get to the final ‘this is it’ point, but I wish you all the luck with all your other plans going forward 🙂
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 10:56 am
You know, it was hard and it wasn’t hard–I think when we dig in and hold on to something, we *make* it hard, but as soon as I did the math using the right starting point, the decision became very clear very quickly. I’m sad to see the shop go, but really feel good about where I’ll be spending my energy moving forward. Thanks so much for your good wishes!!
Karen ChattersMarch 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm
I’m trying to reach into the interwebs to give you a huge hug!
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 10:58 am
I’m the one who should be hugging you!! It has been a really wonderful three years, and I’m so proud of everything the shop has made possible–and excited about what comes next. It’s all good stuff, and I feel really privileged to watch everything evolve and know that I always have a home and family and friends at the foundation. Thank you for the virtual hug–will get a real one at the party! 🙂
Ash PMarch 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm
As a working mom, I hear you. I too have felt guilty for being away from home and not having enough time in the evenings to spend quality time with my son. I’m sure it was a hard decision but you’ve accomplished so much, and I’m sure your children will look at all your hard work and admire you for it. Best of luck in this new chapter of your life!
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 11:04 am
Thank you so much for the good wishes! It IS hard to balance everything, especially when you love what you do and feel that you’re making a contribution that really matters. I know that Whipstitch has really made an impact on a lot of people, and I am so grateful to have been permitted to do this work. I think pouring into my family is something that only I can do, though, and they only stay little once. I feel equally honored to devote this season to them knowing that I can still build Whipstitch and see what’s new around the bend!
Mary LubinMarch 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm
God bless you in the next season of your life. The whole sum of everything you have been is everything you are and you ARE an inspiration to many. Best of luck on the book, your classes, patterns and especially your family.
I have been to your shop a couple of times, only because I live in Erie, PA and that made it hard to visit, but I did when I came to Atlanta visit my son.
Sorry to see another quilt shop close.
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 11:05 am
What incredibly kind words–thank you so much for saying that! I wish you’d been able to visit more often–I would love to have met you. I’m sad to close the shop, but hope we’ll “see” one another through Whipstitch online!
BrookeMarch 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm
Good for you! I am sad for myself that you are closing but know you have made the right decision for your family! The balance of work and family is an ever-changing thing that I am just beginning to manipulate. Glad you’re not going away completely!
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 11:07 am
Thank you so much, Brooke! I worried so deeply that I was letting people down or disappointing them or not serving them as fully as I should, but I really did have to step back and evaluate who ought to get the biggest portion of my time and effort–I’m still learning how to strike the balance and be the mom & wife I want to be while also pursuing my own dreams and building a legacy that includes my family and goes beyond them. It’s way more complicated than anyone said it was going to be! I don’t think I *could* go away completely, because I love you all and Whipstitch too much, so I’m really excited to anticipate what’s around the corner. Only good things!
AgnesMarch 7, 2013 at 12:50 am
I’m sad that I never even got the chance to visit Whipstitch, but I’m excited for you on your new ventures and can’t wait to see what you share with us!
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 11:08 am
I’m sad, too! Meeting folks in person was always my favorite part, and I felt just tickled to know how many folks had loved Whipstitch online and wanted to travel to the shop to see it in person. I’m looking forward to lots of new, good things in this new chapter, and am so glad you all will be part of that! 🙂
EmilyMarch 7, 2013 at 1:52 am
Sending you lots of hugs. I’ve never been in the store, but have enjoyed your blog etc. Good luck in all you do! 🙂 Congrats on following your heart on this one!
DeborahMarch 7, 2013 at 11:10 am
Thank you so much for saying that! It means a lot to me to know how many others are out there who really get it and who understand all the different things each of us would like to achieve and the need to sort through those. I am hoping that I can do a few things really well rather than trying to do ALL the things and find that I’ve missed the mark. Here’s to great stuff in the future! 🙂
ElinMarch 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm
I heard the news and thought this must have been such a difficult decision for you. But, one can never question the decision to put family first. That’s your life.
I just want to say THANK YOU for everything that Whipstitch has been to me. I came upon your store in a time of great change and growth and learned so much. I haven’t been sewing nearly as much as I would like to lately, but I see a lot of it in my future. And that’s thanks to the Whipstitch store and staff – especially the great teachers!
I had these dreams of learning to sew pants with your in-person instruction…LOL, maybe that will still happen. 🙂 I’ll be watching for your new dreams to arise!
Best of luck!
JanimalMarch 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm
Cheers to you. Cheers for the wonderful store I so enjoyed visiting. Cheers for having a place my husband could shop for presents for me and always being me something beautiful home. Cheers for the time spent sewing in the back. Cheers for having your little L in the shop to coo over. Cheers for the vintage buttons, selection of books, gorgeous fabrics, and overall cheer of place. And especially cheers for your family and your commitment and love for them. All my best wishes.
Sewing PrincessMarch 20, 2013 at 7:46 am
Until reading this I didn’t realize you were actually closing down the store all together. Though I read the newsletters I was convinced you were carrying on with classes at the store. Though we never met and I was never able to go to Atlanta just to visit Whipstich (I couldn’t convince my partner to put Atlanta on our US west-coast tour last year…I wonder why!) the store has been my dream store since I found your blog. When many stores close down for lack of business you can say you did it for other reasons…that to me is a great achievement in the current economic climate! It’s great to know you have a lot on your plate even without the store! So…a toast to this new Whipstitch season! Know that I will be thinking of you on Friday!