Why I said No to Opening a Store Front | Simple Life

Four years ago I left the Navy when my eldest’s father suddenly died. I lived on the Island of Guam, at my highest paying position ever. When he died I had to make a lot of decisions that I wasn’t ready for. Especially choosing someone for my daughter to live with while I went out to sea, or I had to choose to leave the island. None of my family lived on Guam nor did I know anyone I trusted enough to take my child. So, I chose the latter of the two and was quickly forced to move off island and back to the United States.

I was sent back home to San Diego, and my pay was cut to 2/3 of what I was making. My fiancé was left back on the Island of Guam until his orders were up five months later. It was all very sudden and traumatic. So many life changes all at once, that were completely our of my control. When I got back to the states I was given the opportunity to leave the Navy or stay in. I again chose the latter. The idea of being separated from my daughter at this time was unbearable.

I aspired to opening a store front in San Diego carrying handmade items created by local mothers. After months of research and the return of my finance we decided it wasn’t the right time, or the right place for our family. We planned to marry and have another child, so online seemed like the better option for our family.

The summer of 2017 I rebranded, and officially became Salt Hippy. At the same time we moved to the Outer Banks in hopes of living a simpler and more fulfilling life. It was the best decision we’ve ever made for our family. Our life has slowed, and our hearts have filled with so much love as we try and embraced each moment with our beautiful daughters. We wanted our children to have both parents at home as much as possible. We wanted them to be able to ask us for last minute cupcakes for school, or enjoy extra curricular activities with us being present in their lives. We want to say “yes, I will be there for you” in all of the important moment as they grow up.

But when I was recently was asked to open a store front I was blind side with excitement. Literally for 24 hours I thought I was going to explode! I could picture the store; my driftwood dreamcatchers floating at the entrance window and the light dancing on the walls gleaming off shimmering crystals. I saw the happy customers participating in art classes, the smiles as customers reached for they’re new bag of Salt Hippy treasures. In that instant I totally forgot why I had moved to the Outer Banks in the first place.

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I day dreamed about the magical store that would be Salt Hippy. There was even a moment where I thought a store front wasn’t going to work. Then, I opened an email that said, “Are you ready to give up? Everything you’ve done so far is the foundation for where you are going next Sophie.” REALLY??!! Ok, that was totally a sign!

As the day went on all the daily chores seemed more daunting. Who’s going to do my laundry and keep my house clean when I am not home? Who’s going to take my kids to school, their extra curricular activities, and doctors appointments? Sure, my husband will be there to help, but he works too with an unpredictable schedule.

I started to get sentimental as we baked cupcakes for the school, a goal that I had planned earlier in the school year. I’m definitely not the baking type, but I wanted to at least make the effort this year. I wondered, “Am I going to have time for this again?” Of course the next nine months getting the store ready would be pure chaos. But after the first initial year things would settle down and I would have my own shop. But at what price?

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As I started to lean towards the idea of refusing the offer I was a little sad. Opening a store was something that has always been in the back of my mind. But the moments that surrounded my children seem so much more precious with the idea that this time may become less frequent. Instead our time would be filled with so much rushing around, jam packed schedules, completely the opposite of what we truly wanted. A store front isn’t a one in a life time deal, but the moments with my girls are. They are sacred and I want to be here for them, fully present.

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I am not a fancy girl. I enjoy simple things, and sometimes going back to the city can be overwhelming now. But this is the life we chose. A life with our girls, a simple life by the sea that every day we can be surrounded with each other with less distractions.

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Thanks so much for reading along.

Live simply, so you can really live.

Love Sophie & The Fam

– Salt Hippy

 

Photo Credit: all photos taken of my family are by Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

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Words to My Younger Self | Living With PMDD

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A few months ago I began writing an article to submit to the PMDD Warrior Blog. The website collects guest blog posts from women all over the world suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It took me an entire month to complete the article because I cried every single time I tried to add to it. I finally got to the point where I needed to finish it. The words just keep floating around in my head. I wanted to share this deep part of my past with other women suffering from PMDD. The blog post was shared on the PMDD Warrior Blog a few weeks ago, however I have been hesitant to share it on my own blog. The idea of sharing it here makes me feel exposed. On the PMDD Warrior blog I know who will read it, women like me. On my own blog I am exposed to others who don’t know what it is or may not understand PMDD. I’m sharing a moment of my past where I was in so much pain I wanted to die. I can still feel that hollow space in  my chest when I think about those days.

Another reason I find it so hard to share about my experience with PMDD is that I don’t feel it has anything to do with my business. So when I share about it on social media it seems so out of place. But PMDD consumes my life. It is the reason why I eat what I eat, exercise to ease my anxiety, need constant naps, which I have to schedule around my work. Wether I want to share or not, PMDD is part of every aspect in my life. I hope with sharing that in some way I can help another person understand that they are not alone in this struggle, just like those other woman who shared with me a year ago, helping me begin on my path to healing.

So grab a tissue, my first PMDD blog post is going to be an emotional one. Below is the original blog post written for the PMDD Warrior Blog or you can see it here on their site.

She is You, She is Me

PMDD, another acronym, another diagnosis, another confusing list of symptoms to describe to another doctor who has no clue what’s wrong with you…

“If only I knew what I know now,” isn’t that what we often tell ourselves? Unfortunately, the knowledge I know now can’t help my younger-self, but maybe it can help you. Help you understand that you aren’t alone in the way you feel mentally or physically. Maybe it’ll help me heal from all the pain that still sits hidden inside of me from all my years of struggling with PMDD.

There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self, but the thing that stands out most in my mind are the memories of me as a young teenager crying in my room every month. I can remember one time looking at a calendar and thinking “This happened to me last month.” I wish I could call out to you. “Yes! You are right!” But I forgot, because that’s what PMDD does to you. Week to week you’re almost a different person. The way your hormones change your brain and your emotions. So much is forgotten and replaced with the most negative and untrue perspective of your surroundings during these “hell weeks.”

If only I could hold you and just tell you you’re not alone. Every month when you sat in the darkness of my room crying with that empty feeling aching in your heart, I’d tell you that it’s normal to feel that way, because your body is different. The sad poems. The feelings of rejection cutting just a little bit deeper on those dark days. The need for isolation. The looming anxiety, feeling like you have multiple personalities. It’s all part of one complex health problem. All exasperated by a birth control dose too high for your body, an ultimatum given to you by your boyfriend’s mother, left undiscussed with your parents. These things are not you, nor are they the life you must continue. You can choose to shed it all and heal your heavy heart.

 

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I would whisper to you that your home, though it looks normal and clean contains chemicals and products that will prevent your endocrine system from functioning properly. Every product you are using on your body will seep in causing more imbalances. Tampons, shampoos, makeup, lotion, hand soap, toothpaste, deodorant, all contain chemicals that we don’t even consider to be harmful. The dairy, sugar, caffeine, water in plastic cups, and other processed foods you are consuming are another huge part of the problem in your body intensifying PMDD symptoms.

Everything you have learned in these umpteen years must be unlearned. You must listen to your body carefully. It is the key that will tell you that something is wrong. Don’t worry if they think you’re crazy because you can only drink coffee two weeks of the month. Fill your life up with nature inside and out because it will heal you.

One thing you taught me in those dark lonely days was to keep pushing forward and never give up. If you, my teenage self, were able to live through the complete heartbreak each month, plus gut-wrenching cramps that knocked me off my feet, then I, as a woman, can do so much more.

Not everything I would say to you would be a warning. I would pick you up in my lap and tell you “Thank you for fighting and never giving into the feelings that swallowed you up. Your strength gave me a beautiful life.” Just to hold you so you could collapse in my arms, take away just one cycle so you could rest your mind, body, and heart. I wish I could hug you and tell you I’m sorry for all the sadness. I’m sorry you’re alone writing sad poems, crying in bed because you feel ugly, inadequate because your memory is erratic and it feels like the world hates you. But one day all this suffering will help others find their way out of the same darkness. You are a light, shine it, and you will find your way out of this darkness too.

 

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Thanks so much for reading my first PMDD blog post. I hope that this will help at least one person understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in the way you feel. There are so any people out there that suffer, even if its not from PMDD. Knowing you are not alone can really make a difference, which can give you that hope to keep pushing forward.

Live simply, so you can really live.

Love Sophie & The Fam

– Salt Hippy

Messages of Inspiration | Monthly Wrap Up

Each month I come to this place to share my favorite creations with you. When I think back of what I’ve accomplished this month I seem to forget so much. As I scroll through the photos captured of my favorite creations I realize that time has a funny way of erasing so many memories. Memories of late nights, memories of all the lovely beach finds slipped into my sandy pockets, and even the feelings when my soul was hit with a burst of inspiration.

Luckily going through these photos bring them all back. So much has happened this month in a blink of an eye. Like my first class! I was so nervous, and I think everyone else was too. But in the end we all enjoyed ourselves. Plus, it was an amazing feeling to be able to meet some of my Instagram family in person!

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In my first class, I showed a group of amazing women how to make these beach dreamcatchers.

I experimented a lot this month. It slowed me down when it came to the quantity of dreamcatchers I made, which is ok. Experimentation is good. It feeds the soul and helps it blossom.

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I carved a few selenite palm stones with waves and the moon. This is my favorite one!

I also added new matte postcards to the shop that have the most beautiful earthy eggshell feel to them! One of which I watercolor painted years ago but never got around to doing anything with it until now.

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My glass beaded wind chimes made it to the list again this month. I worked on a few new color combinations that will be added to the shop soon. I can’t decide which is my favorite: the pink, brown, and orange combination or the yellow and aqua. But, I am certain that they look amazing grouped together like this. Can I please string these across every window in my house?!

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The last pieces that have really moved my heart this month are these precious dreamcatchers containing tiny messages in a bottle. I recently asked my Instagram followers to share some of their favorite quotes so that they can be added to these dreamcatchers. You all sure came through with some super inspirational words! I just love these dream catchers! When you scroll through the photos you can glimpse a word in some of the bottles. It’s powerful, like this triangular one below with the word “she”.

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Do you have a quote you’d like to see added to a dream catcher? Tell me below in the comments, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks so much for reading along for this month’s creative wrap up. I hope you enjoyed seeing all my favorites and learning a little about them.

Live simply, so you can really live.

Love Sophie & The Fam

– Salt Hippy

 

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The Birth of Salt Hippy | Chasing Dreams

 

When I started my entrepreneurial path my plan was completely different. My intention was to open a brick and mortar filled with local handmade goods from mothers called Matriart (mother – art). As soon as I left the Navy I spent weeks researching how to start a business, open a store, real estate costs, social media, anything that I could get my hands on. My brain literally hurt with the amount of information I took in. After months and some advice from a mentor I started setting up at farmer’s markets. I spent $3000 on local merchandise from San Diego mothers and craft show supplies. Soon I realized that a brick and mortar would cost way more than I was comfortable loosing if things didn’t work out. Plus, the time it would take me away from my family wasn’t worth it. This completely defeated the purpose of leaving the military.

I kept the name Matriart and started the online business journey selling bohemian dreamcatchers. All the research told me to attract your target market by having a brand that reflected what your target audience wanted. Well, I couldn’t do that without actually being bohemian. As I tried to fit into that label I realized its not me and I couldn’t pretend to be bohemian to attract customers.

Two weeks after my youngest was born she started having issues with colic. Over 5 months she cried each night for 5-6 hours and nothing would console her. We were completed sleep deprived, and leaving the house was difficult because she would scream in the car with such ferocity I would literally burst into tears. Those months we felt so helpless and trapped. Nothing we tried help her.

At the same time I was having allergic reactions to food and pollen in my neighborhood that cause painful rashes all over my arms. My sanity was hanging on by a thread and I needed something to help me before I broke.

 

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One day I headed to the beach with baby in carrier. We walked for hours and it was the most peaceful time I had in months. She would sleep and the salt air eased my painful skin. Several times a week I would head back to the ocean. As it became routine I started embracing the sea back into my life. I had taken a long break from the beach after our move form Guam where my eldest’s father passed away.

I continued my business realizing I wasn’t bohemian, or a SoCal crunchy mama, or even a typical stay at home mom. It kind of drove me nuts trying to fit into a label. It didn’t feel right. Not even in high school did I ever fit into any social groups. So when it came to my business I decided to make my own name and my own style.

The ocean literally flows through my veins. My legs are always covered in salt and my bare feet in sand. Flip flops are my dress shoes, bikinis are my everyday wear. I feel the most confident when my feet are covered in sand. I feel normal. I feel at home. I realized as I fell deeply in love with the peace of the ocean that I can be who I wanted to be. I didn’t need to be accepted by any cliches on Instagram. I didn’t need my business to look like anyone else’s. I can do what I truly deeply love and connect with people who feel the same. Those were the people I wanted in my life. I broke free from what I should be and made my own label. The name Salt Hippy just came to me after I embraced my salty soul. But I didn’t change my business name until a year later. 

 

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Be you, even if you’re the only one that looks that way.

 

As I began to let go of labels and the desire to fit into categories on Instagram lessened, my business began to flourish. I held on to the name Salt Hippy for an entire year to make sure it wasn’t an emotional impulse (because that’s how I roll). A few months before our move to The Outer Banks I hired Salt and Cove to do my rebranding. It felt like is was destined. Her name had salt in it, she was actually vacationing to the Outer Banks at that time too, I couldn’t resist! I knew she was the one and that I was finally on the right path!

It was so wonderful to finally share that story with you! Do you have a similar story where embracing who you truly are has changed your life’s path? Please share it below, I’d love to hear it!

Live simply, so you can really live.

Love Sophie & The Fam

– Salt Hippy

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Our Story | Chasing Dreams

Shell obsessed, salty mama of two mermaids + our 2 GSDs, married to my twin flame. We asked “why not?” and two years later made our dream to live by the beach a reality. But every happy ending needs a dreary beginning, right?

The Storm That Led to the Sunshine

All my life I’ve been a creator and a dreamer. So, when I joined the Navy my friends and family were shocked. Shoot, so was I! Always a trouble maker, the thought of conforming to military life was never an aspiration. I’m sure my family thought this was just the thing I needed to save me from myself. Honestly, it just happened as a way to get out of my sleepy beach town, where I had made a mess of things.

An incredibly hard 8 year journey began where I had the opportunity to work with my hands welding on U.S. Naval Ships. I grew the thickest skin and sharp wits learning to maneuver working in a man’s world.

I traveled the world. I gained experience, courage, and skills as a leader. I learned that there is so much more in this world than what you see right in front of your eyes. I learned that people are amazing, and cruel, and sad, and inspiring. I learned that culture is beautiful, and art is amazing. I found a love for color and textures while traveling overseas.

When my husband tragically died while we were stationed in Guam, I made the decision that it was time to leave the Navy. I wanted to focus on what was the most important thing in my life, my daughter. I was so scared to leave. How would I pay my bills, where would I live, how would I take care of my 3 year old alone? It was the most challenging period in my life to overcome; death, moving overseas, changing careers, single parenthood. I broke. Utterly and completely. Over and over again.

Looking into my daughter’s eyes, I knew that I had to be strong for her. So I did, and we moved forward with our lives the best we could.

After my daughter’s father died she began to have nightmares. I felt horrible that I couldn’t console her. Creating had always been a way for me to release my emotions, so we made her a dreamcatcher using vintage doilies and lace. We enjoyed it so much that we continued to make them for friends and family.

Some time later, I married the most amazing and supportive man that I could ever wish for. He loved my daughter like his own. He healed our broken hearts and taught me how to love myself. He challenged me to chase my dreams.

I wanted to open my own brick and mortar shop carrying only handmade items from local mothers. I read books, researched small businesses and reached out to local artist. I purchased $3000 worth of local handmade goods and vendor supplies as a trial run at craft events and farmer’s markets. It was a total failure.

Except for my dreamcatchers. And the experience.

My biggest fan, my husband, urged me to go off on my own and sell my dream catchers. With the help of my little 4 year old entrepreneur we began creating bohemian dreamcatchers to fill up my shop.

As my journey continued in the entrepreneurial world, and mother hood with my second child, I felt lost. I had not fully grounded myself from the years of pain from my past. I reconnected with my first love, the ocean, driving an hour to just to walk in her salty elegance. As I spent more time connecting with mama ocean I felt more like myself. That was the turning point when Salt Hippy was born.

At times I am soaring in pure bliss at how far we’ve come. Other times juggling two kids, pets, household duties and trying to run a small business from home can be overwhelming. But when my little girls tell me, “mama, I want to sell things when I grow up,” I know I am on the right track.

Our family has grown from two people to four, plus our two fur babies. From Guam, to California, and now with roots grounded in our dream home in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Our little business continues to grow and transform into something I could have never dreamed of. We pride ourselves in ethically hand-collecting our shells, and drift wood with the help of my two girls, and my husband (who lets us fill his pockets with sea glass and shells, thanks babe :).

We collect only empty shells, every beach trip is an opportunity for a beach clean up and honoring this healing gift, the ocean. We hope to share our love for the ocean with you and spread the word of ways to help save her before she is too far gone. 

We thank you for coming on long with us on our journey and we hope that we can inspire others to follow theirs.

Live simply, so you can really live.

Love Sophie & The Fam

– Salt Hippy

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Slowing Down as We Warm Up | Monthly Wrap Up

This month we broke free from the everlasting grasp of winter. At the same time I’ve quieted my mine from the need to make everything all at once. Creatives, you know what I mean: when your mind is buzzing with ideas and you have a million projects going all at once. Creative chaos, everywhere – kitchen counters, dining table, living room floor, your office. Instead, I’ve slowed my pace and let my heart lead the way. Creating from a place of absolute silence. Silence in my surroundings and stillness in my mind. The stillness has been powerful. It has allowed me to channel my connection with each element in my work. It such a joyful peace to create from.

Have you ever heard that saying, “just let it be”? It’s something often I find hard to do when working on a project. Sometimes I try to perfect my work to the point of perfecting it to oblivion. I will literally adjust it until I break it.

It’s been very important to me to find the right balance between my artwork, the business aspect of Salt Hippy, and my family. I’ve noticed a direct connection to how much time I spend trying to run my business and my children’s happiness (& behavior). I’ve learned to accept that I can’t work a normal 40 hour structured work week like a normal job. Instead of becoming frustrated when my children interrupt me while I work I try to to be more available to them. Often I am told they will only be this age once, so I really do try to cherish these moments with them.

Its also so wonderful to talk to them about what I am doing. I like to show the reasons why I choose each piece. Then they can learn to see the beauty of the tiny things around us that make the large big picture.

So here are a few of my favorite creations from this month. I am utterly in love with the stormy dreamcatcher. Can you guess which one that is? Which piece is your favorite?

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