"When I first moved to Alaska, it was for a job that kept me really busy. By the time my second daughter was born, the summer seasons were so busy that there were days I left for work before my girls were up, and got home just in time to put them to bed for the night. Not only did I not find much time to make things with my hands, I did not have much time to be a mother. My children are by far the most beautiful thing I have ever brought into this world, and I needed to be with them more often, to enjoy the beauty of who they are. My unhappiness about not leading the sort of life with my children that I had envisioned, along with some life changes, led my husband and I to decide that I should leave my job. I needed to be at home with my children, whatever that meant."
"It is important for me to put things into the world that are beautiful to me. I try to spend part of every day creating something. It does not always matter what: a simple thank you card, a dress, a fall garland, or even a sketch on a napkin. It is in the process of creating that I find joy.
I believe that community is often as important as family, they are kind of the same for us. I am constantly humbled and amazed by the community of support that I have. When I was first at home with the girls, trying to figure out what was next, I started kicking around the idea of doing some sewing for income. The support that came from so many people, in so many forms was overwhelming. I do my best now to show my gratitude, and give back to my community.
Being “the boss” gives me the freedom to drop what I am doing and take the girls for a walk when we just can’t ignore the sunshine, or to scoot the work aside for a project that they want to do. It also allows me to involve my children in the process where that is possible. Not only do they appreciate what handmade really means, but my six year old can run a sewing machine, my 4 year old can open and close a safety pin to put a tag on a skirt. And I am learning as much from them as they are from me. It is a real gift for all of us. It is also incredibly satisfying to me to be able to adjust what I do based on feedback, both from my children, and from other people who are involved in the process. When something is not working, I have the freedom to immediately change it.
Although I am still just getting started, and my business is not a dependable source of income yet, I have already felt the satisfaction of being able to give time and resources that I have when and where they are needed. To give an example: When the first tsunami hit Japan, I was awakened early in the morning by a phone call from a concerned family member, and a possible evacuation scare. In the end, our island was in no real danger, but I could not go back to sleep. I lay there thinking about the people who were affected, who were not able to just go back to bed that morning. I could not go about my day just pretending nothing had happened. So I dug out a stash of beautiful scraps of fabric imported from Japan that I had been saving, and started making items to list in my Etsy shop, donating 100% of the money to tsunami relief. It was a small thing, but it was something. And when I donated that money, it felt so wonderful to be able to take some sort of action rather than just feel helpless, or become complacent."
"As bodhi handmade continues to grow, I am hopeful and excited. I know that we will always be finding new ways to “give back” and integrate what we value into how we make our living. And for now, I am doing what I love with the people who I love most."
Learn more about Sarah Jane's products, business and life in Ketchikan, Alaska on her blog.