When I was in high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to help someone. Be an advocate for those whose voices were virtually non existent. Fight the good fight as they say! In college I began my studies in pre-law which morphed into political science which morphed even further into public administration. I'm not exactly sure when I decided becoming an attorney wasn't right for me, but at some point I did. It was a gradual process that ended with me joining the ranks of "Corporate America". The truth is I never truly felt satisfied with either choice. I enjoyed creating things, making things, reinventing things. The heart of artist and maker lay hidden behind suits and a computer.
Enter adulthood... marriage, work, our first home, a career, moving, building a house... and the ache to become parents. It was an insane roller coaster ride with extraordinary highs and heartbreaking lows. The ache to become a mom grew with every passing year. The reality is infertility can sink you if you aren't careful. You have to fight with yourself for yourself on a daily basis. You constantly tell yourself you are more than a flawed body incapable of procreation. Some days you win. Other days you question who you are and if you will ever be worthy. Failure weighs heavy on your heart and slowly you change. Arts and crafts became a life line for me, something cathartic to funnel my hopes and dreams along with the heavy yoke of anger and disappointment.
AND just when I least expected it, the thing I (we) wanted most in the world happened. We got a phone call, but not just any phone call. It was THE phone call asking if you wanted to be parents. We adopted a precious little boy and part of my soul was restored! PARENTS! I still pinch myself because it feels so surreal... a dream I am sure I will wake from. There is one thing I am absolutely certain of, I would not trade the heartache for anything. I would re-live it a thousand times over for my child.
I gladly traded corporate attire for mommy attire, and we became Howard, party of three. With the shedding of the suit my artistic heart quickened. It was free! When my son started school I gave into the voices in my head. I traded the corporate high heels for flip flops and business contacts for glitter, glue, and crafts! I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled across Etsy, but when I did I knew I had found a home.
In 2012 I opened my shop with a whopping 6 wreaths. Every single time I sold something I would almost burst with joy. Someone liked something I made enough to actually buy it!!! My husband became a bottomless well of encouragement. He let me drag him to craft stores. He sat patiently as I bounced one design idea after another off him. Six wreaths turned into 30 which turned into a 100 which turned into... I'm not really sure. More than ever I dreamed I could do. (To all my past and future costumers, thank you!! You guys are the best!!)
It's been a wild ride since opening DyJo Designs. I've met some phenomenal people and made some incredible friends. I've also had a few dreams come true. In 2014, A set of Christmas wreaths and matching garlands I designed were featured on the cover of the 2014 Rejuvenation Christmas catalog. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 my designs were displayed in the Vice President of the United States official residence. In 2014 several sugared fruit wreaths and topiaries adorned the dining room. In 2015 an apple wreath I designed was displayed in the living room and pine cone topiaries and kissing balls could be found on the front porch. In 2016 sugared plum topiaries were in the foyer and a fun, bejeweled square wreath hung at a "jaunty" angle over the fire place in the dining room. These design elements could also be seen on HGTV's annual "White House Christmas" television tours each year. In October of 2016, one of my Halloween wreaths was featured in Better Homes and Gardens Tricks and Treats magazine. In March 2018 my hand dyed Easter eggs were featured in Country Living Magazine.
The truth is I love what I do. It's rarely easy, it can be a little insane around holidays, and I seem to always have glitter on my face or in my hair. BUT it's fun and it soothes my soul. I hope those emotions can be seen in every single thing I make.