Saturday, October 16, 2010

Too Poor to Get in the Door

When I was 19, my son was born. Having a baby at a young age has many benefits but it also had many challenges. The most prominent challenge in my mind was poverty. Once I transitioned out of poverty I think I may have been considered a "low income" family. I am in my 30's now, transitioning out of poverty was a long, long process.

December 1998
Through those years, every time the holiday season rolled around the joy I felt as a little kid for Christmas was replaced by anxiety and guilt. My shopping list was short-mainly whatever my son requested and waited all year to receive. I saved up points on my customer loyalty cards for a drugstore and department store and cashed them in to beef up my son's stocking and skipped a bill payment or two in favor of getting him that bicycle or Playstation 2 or that exciting "big ticket" item.
Proud co-creator of gingerbread house!

I put myself through college and university and eventually landed a full-time job at a great non-profit agency with nice benefits and a salary that was reasonably competitive. Finally, I could afford "luxuries". Luxuries like knitting.

My love for knitting and yarn craft led me to knitting for profit and knitting for profit led me into this new world of artsy craftsy types-those who make and buy and appreciate the handmade. Many times I had been asked if I have been to the One of a Kind Show and Sale at Christmas and I always replied with a reluctant "no". I understood that this was something I had to do. The reputation of this show is so huge and a big favorite of those that patronize the handmade. After some time I started to feel guilty that I had never been to the OOAK Show and Sale. I always heard "it's soooo expensive" and there is a cost just to get in the door.

So fast forward to today. I am going to my FIRST SHOW this year. 2010. I think I have paid the most I have ever paid to get into any show, because I am participating as a vendor. I wish I had been able to go to the OOAK Show at least once over the years. I see it advertised every time and it always piqued my curiosity, but with the holidays not much has changed for me. It is just about making my son happy. This year I still won't be able to afford to shop there, but at least I am in the door!

Decorating dollar store frames and adding
pics of us-a nice hand made gift for every
member of the family!
How accessible is art for you? Has it been accessible to you over the years? Do you see it as a necessity or a luxury? Should art be a necessity?


  1. The following comments are from

    What a handsome young fellow you have there. You seem like a very smart sound minded young woman who has made her way to the big times and I am proud of you and all your hard work and determination. I think you should walk in that door with your head held high and see all the wonderful stuff there and know that you are as good as they are because your stuff is on display for sale just like theirs. Good luck, much success, know your will make a great impression on them.
    Penny Sypherd on Oct, 16 at 4:56 PM

  2. Melissa~ Thank you for sharing your story and how you became the wonderful person that you are today! You've come a long way. My step daughter and my own sister struggle every day similar to the way you started, but the difference is your spirit wanted more and the universe gave you a gift! Now you can share your gift with others in that really cool show! Congratulations! I think you'll make your money back and then some.
    Michelle Rhoades on Oct, 16 at 5:00 PM

  3. Melissa, thank you for writing. Your writing and story is compelling. I am absolutely THRILLED for you that you will be in the OOAK show. If you need some help I would be happy to offer my services -- I know the hours are very LOOOONG.

    I hope Queen Melissa features this post because you have a lot to say and a lot to share.

    I have always believed that the Arts are a necessity and should be available to everyone. It is NOT a luxury and its powers and benefits has been documented many times over.

    I was very fortunate as a child that my mother loved the Arts (Opera,dance,theatre,painting...) and introduced me to crafts at a very early age. It had a profound effect on me; developing and creating the person I was to become.

    Robi Cohen on Oct, 16 at 5:41 PM

  4. Melissa, thank you for sharing your story. Your little boy is just the cutest!!! I see you have never given up, but just continued to perservere. I'm glad you were able to be a vendor at the knitting show and I hope you do very well there. You are laying a good foundation for your son, and I can see from his smiling face he gets a lot of love from you. Keep us posted as to how you do at the show. CONGRATS!!!

    Carla Alford on Oct, 16 at 8:41 PM

  5. Wow. Thank you for sharing! I can't even imagine how hard you must have worked to raise a child, work and go to school. I hope your show goes amazingly!

    To answer your question, fiscally speaking, I've been very lucky my whole life. Even when I was "poor," I always had a safety net, in the form of a credit card that my mom paid. Of course, I tried not to use it...but even when I was at that point in my life, I always spent money on my crafting (sometimes more than I had!) Even when I was totally broke, I'd buy the huge 1 lb. spools of Red Heart yarn and just make whatever, making it last as long as I could. I also loved buying art. One of my first conventions, my entire budget for art was $20, and I'm still so proud of how I stretched that to enable me to buy 2 original drawings and a print. More than a good meal, more than a new books, more than any of the other amazing things I could have bought, that was what I wanted with my only $20. So I would say, for me, both crafting supplies and art are essential. I don't think I can picture a state of poverty where I wouldn't figure out some way to scrap together a few cents to get something to make (I'd just switch around my choices - for $20 I can get a cross stitch that'll keep my hands busy for 2 months... :) )

    Once again, best of luck at your show! Do tell us how it goes!! :)

    Claire Houck on Oct, 17 at 5:03 AM

  6. What a cutie he is. Sorry for all your struggles. Hope you have a blast at the show, and good luck with selling your items.
    Sandy Holladay on Oct, 18 at 6:25 AM |



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