DISCLAIMER: This is the Story of Let’s Just Treasure. There is talk of mental illness and being a single parent. I have done my best to glaze over anything that might be considered insulting. If you know, you know.
I can’t start this story at the beginning, because Let’s Just Treasure was a thought in my mind when I was 12, something of a whisper 5 years ago, and then in 2020 it became real.
I thought I was living my best life. A full time 40 hour PLUS a week job, raising 3 kids in an apartment. It was the first time in my adult life I felt like I was really working on myself. I was just scratching the surface.
Then the pandemic hit, and like everyone else I lost my job. My two youngest were 11 and 8 at the time so I was home schooling. I got the government assistance rent and electric paid, there were the food stamps, the unemployment checks, and the boosters, I took whatever help was available because I needed it, we needed it.
You could spend all day asking about what about babysitters, family, friends, neighbors to come watch your kids? So, you could go get a job? Let’s just say I have trust issues and the only one who knows my kids like I do…is me.
I couldn’t sit around and do nothing so like everyone else who could in the country, I started sewing masks. The thing is…everyone was sewing masks…I had to do something different something special. Let’s Just Treasure was born for real, and we started selling one-of-a-kind styles with unique and rare fabrics. We were one of the first ones to start hand painting and iron on decals. Every single piece was custom made. The thing is when this happens, there just isn’t enough time in the day for one person so I hired on a stay-at-home mom, working mom, teenager, and someone who was trapped at home with anxiety. We made it through the busiest season (Christmas) and they opted out, moved away, or got jobs. I thanked them for their work, came home, and had an anxiety attack.
After 21k in sales the orders stopped, cold turkey. I had what could be called a panic attack, but mine are in the form of OCD. Numbers were running over, and over, and over again. Changing prices by 5 cents, by 30 cents. Adding shipping, taking away shipping, using money hand over fist into advertisements. In all honestly the only problem I had was people didn’t care as much about “specialty” masks, overseas was making it cheaper, and I wasn’t going to sustain myself on an occasional sale of a $40 mask. I took some of my designs that were being put on masks and put them on shirts and stickers. That went…okay but didn’t stop the entire OCD numbers event.
That’s when my bipolar disorder kicked in (BPD). In the span of a day, I’d go from believing in myself, to locking myself in my room to keep my kids away from my sad. Then as an apology for being away from them for a day I’d spend a ton of money on eating out and toys and who knows what else to say I’m Sorry. There came a night that I just sort of cracked.
My meat grinder broke, and I was so obsessed with the idea of making fresh ground meatballs. I must have spent $50 dollars, 4 hours, and 5 hungry people trying to fix this thing, that I could have just ordered the $3.00 parts and moved on with my life. My kid’s bio father (we aren't together) started saying things that pushed my buttons and was laughing at me for getting upset. I thought I lost my mind that night, but something cracked, and I felt it that time. It was like seeing the first crack in a glass.
Something had to change. I had to change. It was a couple months later that I was taking a drive towards the Oregon coast to clear my head after another altercation with the ex when I made the decision to stop selling masks. It was driving me crazy, and I was hurting my family. That left with me selling stickers and shirts.
I set to work perfecting that. With BDP and OCD about perfection (not cleaning), I wasn’t making any more traction than before. This time it wasn’t a moment though. It was like something that was growing inside of me. With the unemployment checks stopped I needed to go back to work, the kids were 12, and 9 now. The 12-year-old went back to school, and the youngest was home with me.
My youngest was suspected to have ASD, ADHD, DCD, and without an IEP there was no way he was getting special services through the school until we could get him officially diagnosed and the wait list is awful. He is a lot to take on for anyone and sticking him with a babysitter wasn’t the right way to go and help is limited. His bio dad works. He has an ex-stepdad (aka ex-husband) who adores him, but works. My dad is sicks, my brother hates kids, and my mom is persona non grata. My boyfriend is fantastic, but you guessed it, he works. So its the kids and me.
I was in a place that it felt like I was twirling around in a circle, and nothing changed, but every crack was still there and getting bigger. It was just a matter of time before everything fell apart and I was going to lose everything. I picked up the phone and called for help…okay so I made an appointment for a therapist for the first time in my life. Because I wasn’t going to move forward or grown until I got help. I walk around saying, “I’m fine…I’ve got this…” no I don’t. I have duct tape and super glue. I have more masks (figuratively) then anyone I’ve ever seen, but they keep falling off and aren’t any good. I’ve got guilt I’ve got fear and I have no idea if people like me, love me, or hate my guts and if I deserve any of those. Fight, Flight, or freeze right? Fight for my kids, flee from myself, and freeze in fear. But that isn’t what they meant.
This brings me to last weekend October 2nd, 2021. I’m standing at my first real vending event with my daughter a child full of anxiety and fear, attachment issues up to here, but with the heart of a lion and I want so badly for us to succeed. I need her to see that it can be a done, but a single mom with BPD, anxiety, OCD, more trauma than you can hold but with love and passion. The first customer walks up and I can see them look at our tables and they are confused. We look like a mess. There are fandoms, there’s kawaii, there’s sketches, there a little bit of everything. Its serious and fun and weird, and confusing. I feel like I must explain it I feel like I have to say SOMETHING. It was there that Let’s Just Treasure’s Mission statement erupted from my mouth.
“Hello! We are Let’s Just Treasure and at Let’s Just Treasure We Treasure the unexpected the artist.” Children (There were two represented at the table), elderly (none yet), people with disabilities (I had two people in mind), neurodivergent (every artist on the table was neurodivergent), and single parents (another check…) We either take their art or their concepts and put them to paper so that they can get their personal message out there in the world. They do get profit they do get recognition. This helps to promote self confidence and get the message out in the world. “ And then I waited to see what would happen.
Sometimes their eyes would light up and sometimes they would do that tight lip thing and move on. We made money, we did well. The next day I added in “We are taking applications soon for more people.” Two people asked for information and told me about a 7-year-old nephew and a 16-year-old brother.
The thing is I meant every word of it. For the last 18 months I’ve been giving birth to this idea of a place where people can take their talents and grow them from people who have real life skills and have been striving to do something with themselves. Woodworkers who have been doing it for 50 years quietly in their garage and are better then any “professional”, stay at home mom artists who have been painting quietly on their bed with paint in their hair just to share with their kids. People afraid to leave their house so they crochet/knit/sew amazing one-of-a-kind pieces but then stick them in a drawer, because "no one will really like them". Not only that but I want to be able to take those without permanent homes (because I've lived in a bookstore before-story for another time) show them where and how they can get their hair cut, free clothes, showers, therapy, get clean and more. Because a lot of it is about taking people by the hand until they can walk alone. “Footprints in the sand poem” go look at it. Then I want to find out who they are and their skills and help them with a resume and get them a job and get them housing and have a team of people that can be there for people. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but maybe just maybe I’ll make life a little easier along the way.
I’m not trying to change the world, I’m not trying to save everyone, I can’t. I can be support and I can show you what I know, but you must reach out your hand, you must ask for help.
If you like what I had to say, if you like where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to do. If you believe in Let’s Just Treasure and our message. Support us, share, buy, bring us an artist, write us an article, do a video, put our materials in your stores, offer to help in some way. We are not a non-profit, but that doesn’t make my desire to share what others can do with the world any less, or the fact I JUST might be able to help.