We've been gone at Costume College (more on that in another post) and are just now recovering our energy! It's a huge event for us — we start by stocking up on products, inventing some new ones, preparing to teach SIX different topics (long story), planning our booth, and packing the cars — and that's all before spending three days there!
Anyway, we are back and blogging again, and something someone there said to me got me thinking about why Destiny and I do what we do. Maybe I should say, why I do what I do (that is, Sassy Feet). I mean, it's not hugely profitable and it takes a lot of energy and requires fearsome attention to detail. So… why?
I'll answer that in two parts. First, consider this story.
In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of that city and tragically reduced its venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677. Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.
One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making. He stopped at one stonecutter and asked him what he was doing.
“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the man said, a bit testily. “Each one the same size as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”
Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing. “Why, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone, least of all the boss, should need to ask.
Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.
The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.
“I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said.
* * *
There are also three reasons why I paint and embellish shoes and bags. The first is simply that it is really, really fun to do! It demands both creativity and ingenuity ("How the heck are we going to attach this swathe of chain maille to that boot?"). It enables me to play with color, which I love, and experiment, which I also love. So the first reason is a personal one.
The second reason is interpersonal: I love sharing what I've discovered with other people. One Sassy Feet customer recently wrote us: "My shoes look great! This paint has been a true lifesaver on shoes that I thought were ruined. I am absolutely thrilled!!" Another woman said our Sassy Feet book was "inspirational" and "full of fabulous photos. I am losing sleep, thinking of what I can do to another pair of shoes in my closet!"
The third reason is what you might call transpersonal: It reaches into the spiritual side of human existence. My happiest moment in the past eight years of doing shoes came during Costume College when a women came up to me after my slide show and said, "You've opened a world of wonder to me!"
I could see in her eyes that she wasn't just referring to shoes. She was talking about discovery, imagination, and transformation. She was talking about the question that sets in motion every wonderful invention and daring adventure: "Why not?"
Which is almost exactly what I thought back in August 2005 when I read the fine print on a bottle of Lumiere paint and saw that it could be used on leather. "Leather?" I thought. "Then why aren't people painting shoes??"
Well, now they are!