"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen
Cracked Vessel was born on Etsy in 2011, at a time when I was really struggling to embrace imperfection by working with polymer clay. At the time, I was supposed to be building a career as a screenwriter. I had written some B movies, none of which got made, then a TV show, which did. Around that time, someone said to me, "Gosh, you must be so happy - you're living your dream writing for TV!" Hmm. Happy, I thought. Yeah, not so much. At the time, my life was one long endless ball of twined-up stress. That's how I ended up with my hands in the clay.
A chance visit to an antique mall sent me spinning in a different direction. I'd always been a vintage-y kinda girl, so I rented a booth, and to my surprise found I quickly developed a following. Shortly thereafter, I opened my first brick-and-mortar shop in a tiny 300-square-foot former bail bonds office across the street from my house. I chose a name that reflected that ideal of beauty in imperfection, inspired by a line in a Leonard Cohen song (itself inspired by a Bible story). I took a lot of flack for that name, from people who felt I had saddled myself with something negative. I never saw it that way. Rarely are vintage items perfect, but their beauty is often in their blemishes.
Outgrowing that store took about a year. With the help of an Indiegogo campaign funded by my friends and customers, I moved in 2013 to an awesome former muffler shop with big beamed ceilings and a huge personality, and then took over the adjacent storefront, too.
Maintaining a physical store and selling online took an incredible amount of energy. I always said, if I ever change the shop name, it's going to be Sisyphus, after that guy who kept rolling the rock up the hill: every time I came close to the top it comes crashing back down. I loved it, but it was too much. I made some mistakes. I'd say the main one was growing too quickly. Pretty soon my bottom line was so big there was no way for me to have any fun, as I was always struggling to keep the basic expenses covered. No time for the things that give me mental and spiritual sustenance.
The decision to close the physical store did not come lightly. Even writing this, my stomach still churns and my heart sinks thinking about it. I loved my shop, and I think a lot of other people did, too. Take a look at some of the photos here on the site and you'll see what a special space it was. But I couldn't give it the love it needed when my entire life had become about paying the rent.
I avoided the writing on the wall for a long time, but several factors converged to make closing seem like the only choice. My father's death was a big one: the idea of being physically closer to my mother seemed so important after that. So I closed up shop, bought a vintage short school bus, and headed back to the east coast.
I named the bus, a 14-passenger Lewis built on an Ford e350 van chassis, Buster Lewis, because why not? My focus turned to painting and prepping Buster for the long journey, and beyond that, for a life of hauling and selling. No, I don't give up that easy: this vintage thing is in my blood I guess.
And that's where we are now. I'm actually writing this from Des Moines, Iowa, where I'm currently stranded until Buster, who has performed admirably for a 30 year old bus but now needs some attention, is repaired. Once I reach my destination I plan to throw myself whole-heartedly into online selling, social media, and the occasional flea market. Buster will make his debut as a pop-up shop at the September Brimfield show. I'm not really sure how I'm going to do things exactly from here on, to be honest. But luckily I've let go of the perfection idea, and every day I focus instead on just rolling that rock.
Please follow the adventures of Cracked Vessel Vintage, starring our ultra special shop dog Cowboy, Buster Lewis the Prizefighting Bus, and me, as we reinvent our business and our lives. We look forward to sharing them with you, through our blog and our social media contributions.