Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My story

 So, I have been working on my about me section in my shop today, and I figured I would share it with you guys to.  It was a little painful to write, and to think about where I was ten years ago, but I think it is good to tell my story, because it may inspire others- what do you think?

I'm Cassi, and I have made over 8,000 garments out of my bathtub.  No kidding!  I want to tell you my story in hopes that it inspires you to follow your dreams.

I never knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up".  To be honest, I felt like my options were pretty limited.  The expense of college was not something my parents could undertake, so I graduated high school at 17 (a year early), and moved to the ghetto of OKC (the only place I could afford to live on my own), and worked at Kmart.  A few years later, Kmart closed, so I went to work for Walmart.  Even then, I knew that I did not want to be there forever- there had to be something better for me out there, and my life was not meant to be spent slaving away for a large corporation for crap pay.  It was like an endless cycle though- when you can barely afford to eat, how can you pull yourself out?

I have always had a creative soul- in fact, during those hard times, being creative and artistic was about the only thing I could do to find a break from the hard times around me.   I spent a lot of time painting- I would paint just about anything I could get my hands on.  The other thing that got me through those rough times was volunteering, and giving to others in anyway I could.  It made me feel like even if times were hard for me, I could still make a difference.

I got married young, and even though that was NOT a smart idea, I got the best gift I could ever ask for from that relationship- my son, Wes.  When I found out that I was pregnant, I started dabbling in tie dye- it was a fun way for me to make something really neat out of things that I already had around the house.  I didn't have anyone to teach me, so my creative personality kicked in, and I spent hours testing and trying new things- never in my life could I have imagined that I was giving myself an education for what would eventually become my career.

In 2007 I found myself a single mom of a one year old son.  As fate would have it, I ended up falling in love with a hot shot manager from Arkansas.  We had met when I was pregnant with Wes, and became fast friends.  He was my age, a bad boy, and NOT the kind of guy you would ever consider settling down with.  In a strange turn of events, we seemed to make each other better people just by being friends.  When we started dating, we were the oddest couple- no one who knew either of us would have ever put us together- we were complete opposites.

Chad saw the artist in me, and encouraged me to follow it.  "Why not?" he would tell me.  So, I went back to my tie dye adventures- spending every extra penny I had on supplies.  I begged anyone and everyone to look at my work, and to buy stuff from me.  I started trying new techniques that I thought MIGHT work- and refined, and practiced.

My sister had told me about this website called Etsy- as she described it- it was the most amazing thing ever- all handmade, and perfect for people like me.  Chad suggested that I try it- just to see what would happen.  I specifically remember saying, "No one who doesn't know me is going to buy my stuff."   When I got my first Etsy sale, I literally thought I had broke my computer, or something was wrong- where did this money come from?  When I realized that I had actually sold something- to a stranger, no less- I took the money I had made and invested it right back into my creations.  Thanks to word of mouth, my shop was getting steady sales, and with each new order, I got  better- I was determined to refine my technique, teach myself how to do new things, and to make my clothing something that people would love.  I wanted to break the barriers that tie dye held- I wanted to make clothes that were gorgeous, and unique. 

The hard work paid off- before I knew it, my shop was keeping me busy full time, and I was living the life that I was determined to get!  In turn, this gave me more time to fulfill my other passion- giving.  Life was good- people recognized me when we went places- specifically Walt Disney World.  We would get stopped, and people would ask me to sign their autograph books, and take pictures- it was an amazing feeling.

Now, you think this is my happy ending- but it is not.  You see, I made a stupid mistake when I opened up my first shop.  I was selling TONS of Mickey Mouse tie dye- everyone loved them.. well, everyone except for Disney.  I woke up one morning and found that my shop, and everything I had worked so hard for, had been shut down for copyright infringement.  This fueled my creative fire- instead of giving up- I started over and reinvented my line.  I thought my dream was over, but I refused to quit.  After a few VERY scary weeks, my new line caught on like wild fire, and that leaves us where I am today :)

If you have a dream- FOLLOW IT.  If you want to change your life- CHANGE IT.  It won't be easy, and it feels scary, but you will never know until you try!  You might just find your ONE  GREAT THING :)

To check out my current "good works" projects- check out http://www.cassiselby.com , or find me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/onegreatthing