Fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS!
This little business of ours has been fifteen years in the making. So far.
*Just a note for everyone reading, especially those who may be new to our business and/or blog. All the photos shared in this post are screenshots from way back when… most are close to 15 years old. Our products have changed a lot since then, so be sure to check us out on our facebook page and join us as we celebrate 15 years in business! www.facebook.com/homesteademporium
On the one hand it feels like only yesterday that I began this journey. On the other, as I’ve been reminiscing while going through all these photos and screenshots of our humble beginnings, it feels like a lifetime ago.
In many ways, it’s five life times ago. All five of our children have grown up since!
When I first began making cloth pads at home to share with others, our twins were just four years old. Now, they will be 20 years old just next month!
This business has spanned almost their entire lives. Our youngest three likely don’t remember me before I was behind a sewing machine most of my days.
Likely, our eldest two don’t either. They were 12 and 10 when I began this business, but I had spent many years sewing before then! I used to sew all hours into the night to get outfits made for both of them, costumes, bathing suits, bags… oh the bags I made for my kids… maybe they miss those days when I sewed more for all of them than for anyone else?
Fifteen years ago this was the very first ‘banner’ I ever had. I was SO excited and SO proud of this banner. It ROTATED information! Perhaps some of you remember when that was really amazing?!?! lol
The internet has come a long way since then too…
My very first ‘official’ site. It all began as Homemade Mama. I’ve actually missed that title ever since I first gave it up. I truly feel like Homemade Mama.
But, we wanted a name that would fit the whole family, a name that would suit a ‘family’ business, and allow our kids (and even hubby if he was ever so inclined- I actually haven’t given up hope on that one yet) to create anything and everything they could ever want to create and share with the world alongside of me. So we said goodbye to Homemade Mama, and hello to the official family business, Homestead Emporium.
I love to look back on the early days though.
Boy, I felt so ‘grown up’! Ha!
I laugh at that now. A happy laugh though, because I still remember those feelings of excitement in those early days,
Truth be told, I STILL get those same feelings of excitement over this business. I truly understand what a blessing that is.
To do what you love, and to love what you do.
Take a look at that Ultimate Pad (now called the UltiMax- and looking a little different).
I actually still have it’s twin here, the very first one. I’ve kept it all these years. One day I’ll likely make a ‘shadow box’ of it for my sewing space.
It was my first step into really going the extra ‘mile’ so to speak, in my creating. From that first Ultimate pad came a whole lot of other pads that were all very unique back then.
Fifteen years of creating. Fifteen years of getting to be ME, in all that I do! Fifteen years of sharing a part of me in all of my work.
With each new look, I felt more and more grown up!
My products became more polished. My excitement only grew. That excitement never wavered. I think that’s quite amazing.
All these photos of my kids when they were little. Some of you will remember these. Some of you and your children have grown up alongside us! How amazing is that?!
Look at that sweet face!! How I miss those years of my kids being littles. Working alongside me every day, whether helping me in whatever way they wanted, or simply doing their own thing right there next to me.
We still have a little of that going on around here, but not much anymore. Alesia has long since moved out of the family home, she’s 28 years old and living far away in British Columbia. Joshua is 26 now. Has had his own little acreage just 12 minutes from us for about the past 4.5 years. Elsa is away at college this year, so we only see her the odd weekend, and during breaks. And Shaylah and Julia, the only two children who were more than happy to always oblige in photos and thus show up on just about every old HomemadeMama/HomesteadEmporium page you’ll ever find. Both of them, almost 20 years old now, and both working as Care Aids with disabled adults and working towards more schooling. For now, both are still living at home, but we know it’s just a matter of time now.
Bittersweet. All this growing up.
And look at these other screenshots I found on the wayback machine!
Jewelry that Alesia made. I still remember those pieces! She would have been about 13 or 14 at the time she made these.
And look what else I found!
More twin photos, and look, there’s Joshua! I wouldn’t be surprised if he still has that tool apron somewhere!
The other day I posted a photo of him on facebook for his birthday. He was about 5 or 6 years old holding his favourite stuffed dog.
He sent me back a photo of him now, with that same stuffed dog. lol It was too funny!
I made toys back in the day!
I wonder if any of them are still out there. I know we’ve got a few of them here. That little bunny foo foo was a favourite of mine. One day when I have grandchildren I know I’ll be itching to get creating toys again! Likely not for the shop though, but definitely for my grandkids. 🙂
But let’s not forget THE PADS!
Through all these past 15 years I’ve created many different things but one thing has always remained, and that is THE PADS!
No matter how hard I tried to get my customers to love something, anything, better than my homemade cloth pads, it just wasn’t happening. I had to come to the realization that I would forever be that pad woman.
Again I say “Ha!” lol
I will admit to being somewhat embarrassed by my business in those beginning years. Not online mind you, but definitely in person.
People would always ask me, “So what do you do?” And my answer would always be, “I create cloth products that we ship worldwide,”
Then inevitably the next question would always be…. “what kind of cloth products?’ to which my HUSBAND of all people, would always unabashedly reply, “Homemade Cloth Menstrual Pads!”
Yes, my kids have been by my side all these 15 years in business, but it’s my husband who has always been my greatest supporter. He has never considered me crazy, even when “I” was pretty sure that I was. lol
He’s taken thousands upon thousands of packages to the post office for me over all these years. Thousands. He’s spent HOURS sitting on the bench outside of my favourite fabric shops. He’s likely brought home thousands of packages of fabrics, snaps, thread, etc. etc. etc. home for me too. Never once complaining. Always knowing these packages that came in the door would be transformed from fabrics, to beautiful reusable products that he would then be taking to the post office to ship everywhere from Canada and the USA to Japan, Saudi Arabia, China, the Netherlands, Finland, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Malaysia, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Africa, and so many more and more and more places all around the world that I just can’t even think of them all right now!
At one time my husband even helped with snaps! He didn’t love it, I’ll admit to that, but he did it! Him and Joshua would do all the snaps together when things got much too big for me to do everything myself. Joshua quickly learned how to do them by himself though, and from that point on for many years Joshua did all the snaps. He was very very happy to hand over the reign of snapper to Julia though, about a year after he moved out. Very happy. lol Julia has been doing the snaps ever since.
Then there was another time that they both helped me sew the tab style wings onto the pads. Oh that was a riot! I still get a good chuckle out of that time in history. lol My husband does NOT share my love of sewing.
But he did it. Why? Because he supports me. I hope my children remember that as they prepare their futures, with spouses. I hope they will always support their spouses as my husband has supported me. And I hope my girls will always hold out for someone who will be there for them just as much as my husband has been here for me over these past years. Has our marriage always been perfect? No. Far from it, especially the early years! But we’ve grown, we’ve learned, we’ve matured. Just like this business.
I hope we’ve been a good example to our children. In marriage, and in work/business. I hope our children all get to do what they love, and love what they do!
And with that… I’ve rambled long enough in this journey through time. We’ve grown from Homemade Mama to Homestead Emporium, and now, after many years of working towards it, 7 years ago we finally also became The Willard Homestead with the Emporium just being a part of it all.
This isn’t the end. In some ways it is just the beginning. More about that in another post… I’ll try not to wait so long next time.