I just got back from Columbus, Ohio with my friend Beth where we attended the 5th Annual Country Living Fair. It was an event filled with top of the line artisans, antique dealers, cooking demonstrations, and decorating seminars. We had bought the early bird tickets, allowing us into the event 1.5 hours prior to general admission and boy was it worth it! We never quite understood why everyone didn't come early....there are one of a kind gifts and goodies for sale that sell very quickly. At one of our favorite booths, Findings, we heard that the majority of their bracelet inventory was gone by mid morning. Between Beth and I, we bought 6 bracelets there within the first 20 minutes....they were to die for and the price was right.
Beth and I have gone to Brimfield together for the past 14 years. We know exactly where our favorite vendors are, where the great food stands can be found, and how to work around the crowds. With this fair, we had no idea what we were in for and had never met anyone that went before. We walked in dazed, confused, and woefully unprepared. Ladies were literally high tailing it down the main street, yet there was a village of booths to the left. We didn't know which way to go or what we might be missing when we made our decision. Beth stopped and said "Okay, we just need to think for a minute. Let's just look around and get our bearings." As we strolled through the first few booths, it was clear this was like nothing we had been to before. It was like Brimfield and an art show combined on steroids. Everywhere we looked there was amazing stuff created mainly by women entrepenaurs trying to make their mark on the world. We instantly went into an ADD frenzy, running from booth to booth. We heard a group of ladies say in their southern accent, "Oh my word, we only have a half hour before the doors open." My upper lip immediately grew a sweat mustache and as my daughter would say, my pits got "wet". We decided to hit the booths we knew would be swarmed when the main doors opened and we started buying like crazy. By noontime I think I had gone through almost half of the money I brought with me and if pressed, I don't think I could have named half of the items I had bought.
After refueling with lunch, we headed back out to conquer the rest of the fair. This is when I saw it. From across a courtyard, a main street, and hoards of people, I saw a pink and green booth...it was like coming home. I should mention I was rocking a super cute hot pink a-line skirt with my kelly green polo (collar up of course), my pearls (again, of course), and my Lilly Pulitzer pink and green oilcloth recyle bag. I looked just like me. I walked like a magnet to metal until I was in front of the booth. As I was taking it all in, the owner of the Tickled Pink booth came up to me and said "Oh my God, you belong here!" I know, I thought, as I got a little misty eyed. And I just have to mention that the owner was ADORABLE! She was a beautiful older lady with a twinkle in her eye...collar up, adorable outfit, and in pink and green herself. She had the same bag as me she said, we complimented each other on every bit of our outfits, and then she invited me to look around. She was an extremely creative lady, with one of a kind creations, and Beth pretty much had to pull me away.
I think it was at this point that I really began to shift my focus from the items for sale to looking around at the people at the fair. It was filled with very creative people who were bubbling with energy. There were so many cute outfits at this place! One girl had a grey silk halter top on...something you would wear with a dressy outfit...but it was paired with a white t-shirt underneath, cropped jeans with big cuffs, and adorable silver ballet flats. There was the woman with an ivory chemise on, worn over skinny jeans and a white t-shirt, topped by a cardigan with a big silk flower on it. I wished I had thought to be so creative and daring with my clothes.
Beth and I found an artist that we loved there named Jennifer Lanne www.jenniferlanne.com. Her paintings were beautiful and we made the mistake of deciding to go back later in the afternoon when we had more time to really look through her paintings. Unfortunately, when we went back, the ones we wanted had already sold. We quickly became enamored with Jenn and it took us awhile to figure out why. She was wearing an adorable summer dress over cropped jeans with a big cuff. She had paired black trouser socks with two toned high-heeled mary janes, and the trouser socks were scrunched down like bobby socks. She had an adorable yellow bow in hair and funky, big earrings. I am one who appreciates an adorable outfit, but I realized what I was feeling went beyond the outfit. Jenn felt free to be herself and show her confidence. She was clearly a risk taker and it made me want to take more risks and be more like the person I dreamed about. If I wore a dress over my jeans, I would look like I was trying too hard. And if I paired scrunched up trouser socks with high heeled shoes I would look like a crazy bag lady who only wore those two things together because it was the only pair of socks and shoes she had.
I began to wonder why some people can carry it off and others can't. First of all, and I'm being completely honest, you have to be skinny for these looks. (Note: I will soon be writing a post on how I don't want to be pudgy anymore). Beyond that though, you have to be comfortable with who you are and willing to put yourself out there. I have always been a creative person but as responsibilities grew and took up my time, I just buried my creative thoughts until I couldn't see them anymore. I was telling Beth that lately I just want to stay up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have so many creative ideas that come to me that I want to try and fit it all in before I don't have time for it anymore. And Beth is an incredible artist, it was even her major in college. But marriage, kids, and the need to have a steady income, have prevailed over being creative and taking risks.
We decided right then that we would start being more creative again and take more risks. The confidence and outfits will surely come as a result. When decided if we found ourself wondering if a certain outfit looked good or if we should take a particular risk we would ask ourselves "What would Jenn do?" We even went back to her booth to take a picture of her outfit so we could send it to each other, when needed, and ask "What would Jenn do?" Well, I'll just be honest...taking her picture became weird. We loitered for a bit to wait for the right moment to snap a quick pic when she wasn't looking but then it felt like we were stalking her. Beth came up with the bright idea to pretend to take my picture and then snapped it just when Jenn came into view. By the way, Jennifer, if you ever read this, we really aren't creepy weirdos...although re-reading what I just wrote, is making me feel a little bit like one.
On day two, we didn't think we would have anything left to buy. We had seen it all, knew the vendors inside and out, but really went back because we wanted to attend a seminar at 11. Surprisingly, we bought more on the second day than the first! It seemed we had more time to really look in depth at the booths, and we saw so many things we hadn't seen the first day. We even ended up shipping stuff home. I came across a booth that we had passed several times on day one and didn't bother to go in. On day two, I decided to just take a closer look inside. I came across a vintage hair clip that I couldn't live without. I thought to myself, "What would Jenn do?" and I knew that it was something a creative, fun loving, confident person would wear. Sold!
As we were leaving, I stopped in to see my pink and green Tickled Pink friend. I disappointed her by wearing navy and light blue instead of pink and green....and she let me know how she felt about that. But we chatted for a good 10 minutes and Beth got a great picture of us. I'll post it once she sends along. Talk about someone exuding confidence and truly living the life she was meant to. She definitely took a risk with her creations and was so happy putting herself out there. Someday when I find the thing I was meant to do, I know what it will feel like because I saw it firsthand.
When we got back into the car, I immediately put my hair clip in and loved it. It was so unlike me....I'm not twelve so hair clips don't come easy to me...but I really liked how it made me feel. Beth would have told me if I looked like an ass but instead she told me how cute it looked, and so off we went, windows down, wind blowing in our hair, with my hair clip looking super cute.
There are so many elements of this trip that I need to comment on that it will come in several posts. But Lesson One for me is to stop being so afraid and start taking risks. They don't have to be big risks, just start small. What have you got to lose? All those women who are now doing what they had dreamed of had to start someplace, they had to take risks, and they all had failures along the way. I don't think it's the failure we fear most, but rather the fear of not knowing where to start. When you find yourself wondering if you should take a risk, whether it is with what you are wearing or even what decision you should make, just ask yourself, "What would Jenn do?"