Tote Your Stuff

Our Story: Arlene Gresham & Diane Andrews

A Creative Mother and Daughter Partnership

Diane Andrews (left) & Arlene Gresham
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We're more creative together!

        In 2005--fifteen-plus years and hundreds of handmade tote bags and purses ago--my mom and I did something that surprised even us. We became business partners.

     We started buying fabrics and designing and sewing simple, lightweight tote bags. We gave them as gifts to family and friends. Again and again.

     When the fabrics started piling up and it dawned on us how much money we were spending, we started selling our tote bags.

     People heard of us by word of mouth. They discovered us at craft shows.

     As customers asked for more sophisticated bags, we added new styles and fabrics and features--pockets, closures, beads, fluff, interfacing.

     Whatever purse or tote bag our customers asked us to create, we were eager for the challenge.

     My mom--Arlene Gresham--and I still get excited about sewing and fabrics. When we get a new fabric, we're eager to transform it into something beautiful and useful.

     Over time, we added a sideline of aprons, decorative pillows, pillow cases, face masks and more to our repertoire.

     "When I go to bed, I can hardly wait to get up and start sewing again," says Arlene.

     We're perfectionists. If something is not just right, we rip it out and start over.

     We stay up too late sewing together. My mom cuts out, and I sew by the lamp light because my eyes are better.

     We have fun together and spark creativity. We've come to know and respect each other in new ways.

     My mom designs and sews in Michigan. I sew in California and on summer retreats with her in Michigan.

     Our bags? They are toting stuff all over the world.

     Where next will one of our bags go, we wonder? Who will be our next customer?

     How about you?


Arlene (left) & Diane feeling flirty in ruffles
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Kitchen Staples: Cheerful, Flirty Aprons

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Diane (L) & Arlene looking festive in red & green
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If you think your burden's heavy and good fortune seems remote,
Just remember to be grateful that you have some stuff to tote.
Jack Hasling, 2006; www.jacksverse.com