Do you ever encounter people who are just meant to be in your life for one reason or another? Life is so grand like that.
Back in 2011, Lexi and I had an ambitious idea to open our own clothing store/gift shop where we wanted to sell one of a kind items either from amazing artists we met in our daily lives or encountered via our travels. One of our first stops in search of our first coveted artisan was the New Orleans Jazz Festival (Jazz Fest).
Why New Orleans (NOLA) you ask? Jazz Fest happens to be one of the largest and most famous in the US AND New Orleans is full of inspiring artists. We figured in between red beans and rice and liquid hurricanes, there would be at least one artist we would find interesting. Just so happens, the weather in NOLA in April can be rather iffy. Our first day at the festival was a total bomb – a tropical storm decided to blow through town that weekend. There we stood in mid-calf deep water, sheltering ourselves from the torrential rain with one broken umbrella ready to blow inside out, eating red beans and rice from flimsy paper plates – it was a sad sight indeed. I found it all entertaining until I realized my bermuda shorts became tanslucent with the rain. The remainder of the day was spent trying to find a dry tent rather than our amazing artisan. Needless to say, we left the festival drenched to the bone and more than a little bummed.
The next day Lexi left NOLA early in the morning but I had most of the day ahead of me. The sun was shining bright and it was gorgeous outside…you know those days after a big rain! I decided to play a little game…if I could win enough money playing Blackjack for a ticket to the Sunday Jazz Fest, I was going back in search of our artisan – I had not yet given up hope. The cards were on fire that morning – I won a little over the cost of a ticket. I rarely win at Blackjack. I cashed in my chips and headed for the trolley car.
If you have ever ridden the trolley in NOLA you know they only take exact change – something like a buck-fify – and of course all I had were 20’s from my casino winnings. As I pondered what I was going to buy at 7-11 to get change (pink snowballs with a 20 year shelf life perhaps?), a dollar bill literally came blowing down the street – some teenagers spotted it first so I gave them the first right of refusal. The response from the pack of wild teens was, “It’s not a Benjamin – you can have it.” Who says that? I proceeded to run after my ‘measly’ dollar, stomping the ground with every gust of wind until I caught George with my my shoe before he disappeared under a Toyota mini-van.
George and I waited in a fairly long line for the trolley. I was the last person they could possibly squeeze in, but as luck would have it, the person in front of me had the common sense to ask if we were on the right car for Jazz Fest. We weren’t, and had I jumped on that trolley, I would have ended up on the opposite side of town – my hopes of finding our dream artisan dashed.
I FINALLY made it to the hallowed grounds of Jazz Fest – the sound of incredible music and the smell of tasty, cajun morsels in the air. I passed by the friendly ticket-takers and within 2 minutes walked up to the first marketplace booth I found. Just so happens it was filled with some of my favorite things – belt buckles in particular. It was love at first site – Sweet Bird is EXACTLY what Lexi and I had come to find in NOLA. Nancy the owner was there to talk about her pieces – what a wonderful soul she is! She is one of those special people who has never met a stranger and has a way of making you feel as though you have known her forever.
To make a long story short, Lexi and I did not open our clothing store, but in the pursuit of one of our many dreams on the Life Bus, we met an amazing person. The icing on this giant cake is that Nancy lives in Boulder, CO – just 30 minutes from Lexi and me. She owns a store in Boulder now – so it is only fitting we chose her to make our very first Life Bus belt buckles. We will wear them proudly not only because they are gorgeous and made by a good soul, but it’s also special to know she shares our philosophy to follow your bliss and live life to the fullest.
To quote Nancy from her website:
~There is much more to come, but for now I wish you aimless days of exploring and countless opportunities for creating. We all have a story. What’s yours? I hope it is full of hope, passion and faith.~
Given all that happened to lead me to Sweet Bird, Nancy was meant to be in my life for one reason or another. Finding her was a special day indeed. I came across a fabulous article about Nancy you may find interesting! http://www.cowboysindians.com/Cowboys-Indians/July-2009/A-cowgirl-and-her-dad-find-meaning-in-their-Sweet-Bird-Studio-creations/