As I write this, I still am in disbelief that I have owned Palmy Greetings for almost a year. I remember just last year, I was preparing my father's day collection for Zazzle. There was still so much to learn about the process of making greeting cards, and even shipping deadlines, but I had enough support to fuel me.
While I find many interconnections between my writing and my art-making, this work brings me peace for many reasons. One immediate thing that comes to mind is the more immediate gratification, of having someone see my design and enjoy it. I have enjoyed that satisfaction when people send me messages about their Palmy Packages, or they place custom orders and enjoy the finished product. This mother's day, in my effort to expand the business I experienced that gratification in ways that are more authentic to my own upbringing and memories with my mom. I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with friends in a special way to celebrate the mothers that are here with us today.
When my mom started her brick and mortar, you would think I was most excited to sit in her boutique, but truly I loved going to the artisan/craft markets. My first job(s) were selling fair trade, hand-made, or other pieces that sought to share their profits with a community. I loved the pieces at the events - the scarves that I sold, the bracelets I stacked on my arms, and the woven goodies that I would try and fill every surface of my closet with. I was raised in retail, and I loved how these outdoor, or church-fellowship-hall venues contrasted the malls where she usually worked. I don't think all of the attendees were averse to the mall, but the warm and generous people who came spoke about things that don't really fill the halls of your favorite fast-fashion chain. I loved greeting the people that came to our table, and I would shower them with stories of the women who made the pieces that I was trying to sell to them; further, our short conversations made me feel like we were collectively brainstorming, and even investing in ways to "make the world a better place".
Now that I am armed with a Sociology degree - and work informed by the theories of critical and brave postcolonial theorists - as my own business, of course I have a different perspective of some of the organizations that market their products as part of (resistance to????) global inequality. BUT that does not mean I don't still love these markets. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to attend a variety of awesome fresh food and craft markets, from Ypsilanti to Detroit (Eastern Market). Furthermore, as a longtime motown fan, I would be remiss if I did not learn more about the music scene in the region, so as a business owner I seek out these venues for personal enjoyment, and a little promotion!
This past Mother's Day I found myself vending at a music festival just outside of Detroit. The main event was of course cancelled due to COVID, but man I am so happy I was invited to vend my greeting cards at the pre-party. When I arrived, I was placed next to a mother with her two sons - they were selling "to go tacos" and other treats. It felt like a full-circle moment watching this mom model entrepreneurship - and the skills that go along with it - for her sons. As I engaged with new customers, and introduced some of awesome up-and-coming musicians to Palmy Greetings, I thought about how I was also prepared for this experience by my own mom, even in her physical absence.
I say this to say, I celebrated Mother's Day in an interesting way, with complete strangers. Since moving to Michigan, I realized that sometimes in the unfamiliar, are moments of deep clarity, about who you are, and the space you want to occupy in the world. I wish I could report that it was at that table I found my life's purpose, but I didn't. I just felt like I was going in the right direction, from the visual and verbal reminders of all the wonderful things my mom taught me.
This past Mother's Day, I knew I would enjoy it. It wasn't just because of the public event, but because my greetings this year were more personalized to the moms in my life. A dear friend who I refer to as my twin, had a beautiful, healthy, outgoing, baby boy. I designed a greeting card based on a picture with her sister and her son. I had been inspired by her sister's work coordinating a baby shower in the middle of the pandemic, and cultivating a special online community for my twin. I was so grateful they allowed me to print a card inspired by their relationship. This year, like last year, I wanted to honor the other-mothers' (like my twin's sister), the aunts, grandmothers, and caregivers with out titles who have cared for me and others. I was pleased to have this opportunity to reconnect with my twin, and honor the amazing work she does as a friend and mother with the recent Mother's Day Collection. Through it all, I learned the best way to celebrate mother's day, is to, like my own mother, fellowship with and uplift others.
Or, just #KeepitPG !