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The Birth of Swag

A pile of vintage dresses were strewn across the bed. Trippy psychedelic prints, lace, ruffles and shimmery metallics jumbled together in a kaleidoscope of textures and colors.

“I think this is the one,” Jess said.

“Absolutely,” I agreed. “It looks like it was made for you.” She had chosen a soft watercolor floral 70s maxi dress with a ruffled neckline that hugged her figure perfectly.

Jess had been a dear friend of mine for the last 10 years or so. She had come over to find a dress to wear to another friend’s upcoming wedding, and me being a vintage clothing dealer - well, she had come to the right place. We had met in a women’s recovery group. Both of us broken, desperate, hopeless. But we found in each other and the women who went before us a way of living where we could be free. Where we could find peace. Where we could be happy. Friendships like that are special. The rooms of recovery are so raw, so honest, so deeply moving and beautiful that the relationships formed within tend to transcend the ordinary realm of surface acquaintances which make up a lot of friendships.

We left the pile of dresses on the bed and walked downstairs to say goodbye, chatting along the way. When we got to the kitchen, Jess spied my husband sitting outside. “Is he whittling?” She asked. “Yeah, we’re trying to pick up hobbies so we’re not just staring at our phones all the time,” I laughed. “I’ve been doing some embroidery, c’mere I’ll show you.”

I led her into the living room and picked up the latest piece I’d been working on - an anthropomorphic flower with starry hands and the words “Eat meat” in cursive along the side. Jess laughed. She gets me. “Here, let me show you some of the other pieces I’ve done,” I said, as I started scrolling through the pictures on my phone. I showed her a few more and eventually came to one I had done for a friend’s one year sober-versary that said “Bill W. Is my homeboy” She laughed again. Like I said, she gets me. “Yeah I kinda have this dream where I like open up an etsy shop with funny sobriety gifts and stuff - like this one, or straight pepper diet, you know ones that aren’t all like serious and corny.”

Jess went silent for a split second. There was some sort of energetic shift in the room - we could both feel it.

“Are you kidding me? I have that exact same dream! I had even opened a Shopify last year with that intent but I never added any products to it!” She exclaimed.

We talked about how there was a real need for more modern, youthful products in the recovery market. And of course we had the same aesthetic in mind - groovy, retro, swagalicious.

“Let’s just do it,” Jess said. “Like let’s actually do it.”

Here’s the thing. There are so many ideas I have had throughout my lifetime that I never took action on, because I thought I had to figure everything out first, I had to do it perfectly or not at all. But in recovery one of the main things I’ve learned is the importance of action. Nobody gets anywhere by just sitting around and thinking about it. Getting sober was the first thing in my life I just DID. Because I had to. Because it was life or death for me at that point. And I didn’t do it perfectly at first. I had a couple of years going in and out of the rooms, collecting worse consequences until I achieved a level of misery I didn’t know was humanly possible. But I kept doing it. I learned from my mistakes. I stayed in action - and the more action I took, the longer I stayed sober, and the better I felt.

“Ok,” I said. “Let’s do it.”

So we started out on a course of vigorous action. Jess had a background in graphic design and I had a background in selling online. Other than that, we DID learn as we went. And we are STILL learning. One of my favorite quotes is “The more I learn, the less I realize I know.” We hope to never stop learning - to remain teachable. We’ve been able to use the principles of the 12 step program to guide us in learning and operating our business - hope, courage, willingness, integrity, perseverance, humility. And of course - ACTION.

We don’t really think either one of us could have pulled this off alone. But we know that with the help of each other - and of course our Higher Powers - anything is possible. We never have to do anything alone again.

We’d love to hear what’s going on with all of you - what are you doing with your brothers and sisters in recovery? Let us know in the comments!

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