The Tinsel Rack x PECULIAR: A Story about Kindness, Serendipity and Daring to Try

Introduction

“Good things take time. One step at a time is always a good rule to follow. Keep up the good work.”

If you told me three weeks ago that I would be writing a journal entry about an upcoming collaboration with The Tinsel Rack, I’d probably have laughed in your face and thanked you for your unchecked belief in my business. If you proceeded to tell me that I would be hand-building and glazing a full collection of ceramic pieces over a short span of two weeks, I’d have told you that I simply wasn’t capable of completing such a mammoth and terrifying task.

But despite all the odds, and coupled with a healthy dose of serendipity, I’ve found myself here - hands caked with clay, shoulders aching with lactic acid and eyes, wild with hope - as I prepare to release a collection of ceramics designed in collaboration with a local apparel brand that I’ve admired for years.

I ought to know by now that life has a way of surprising even the most cynical and fearful of us, teaching us that we can accomplish goals that we weren’t yet brave enough to set for ourselves. I’ve also come to believe that the most interesting success stories are the ones that are rooted in kindness, and that no act of kindness is too small to count, even when it’s in the form of a simple, unassuming comment left on an Instagram post.

Kindness and the Butterfly Effect

I published a short post on my Instagram account about a month ago, referencing the mental fatigue and burnout that I had experienced early into launching my business. I had been struggling to meet self-imposed posting timelines, and often felt that the content I was producing for my social media and website were sub-par and off-brand.

In a moment of sadness, I wrote a post about how low I was feeling. Upon publishing the post, I instantly wondered if people would perceive me as a weak, fragile entrepreneur who constantly overshared her insecurities. As my inner critic continued hurling abuse at me, I felt something buzz loudly in my pocket. I fished out my phone and saw that a new follower had left a short comment on my latest post:

“Good things take time. One step at a time is always a good rule to follow. Keep up the good work.”

I felt the immediate prick of tears as I read the comment, re-reading it several times before calling out to Darren and letting him read it too. I was completely shocked that a stranger had taken the time to leave such a kind, uplifting comment on my post, and was even more surprised at how deeply it had affected me. The comment made me feel seen and understood; it gave me hope that I hadn’t entirely disappointed my community, and that they were being patient with me as I figured out how to run a business that added value whilst being sustainable for my emotional and physical well-being. I stored that line of encouragement into my mental back pocket and revisited it over the next few days, almost as if it were a meditation and I, a disciple in training.

The Journalist and His Girlfriend

As the days rolled by and the haze of fatigue began to lift, I allowed myself to resume thinking about ways to increase brand exposure for PECULIAR. I knew that my first journal entry had resonated with a lot of people, and decided that the article could be used as a way to pitch a news story about PECULIAR to local publications. I sent the journal entry to a college classmate who now worked as a journalist, and asked him if my story was in any way newsworthy.

I heard back from him a couple of days later. He told me, in his straightforward and frank manner, that my story wasn’t newsworthy in its current state, and I recall feeling unsurprised, grateful for his forthrightness, and understandably deflated. However, as I thanked him for his time and began bringing our conversation to an end, he asked for my email address.

A few minutes later, I opened my inbox to find an extremely well-written analysis on my marketing efforts, alongside numerous strategies that I could use to improve my news pitches for the future. I was, once again, shocked that this former schoolmate had not only taken the time to entertain my request, but had spent a fair amount of effort and attention to analyse my blog post and generate two pages worth of detailed advice for me and my business. I thanked him profusely, and felt deeply in my soul that the universe was trying to teach me a lesson about the life-giving force of kindness, and the importance of passing it on.

Less than a day later, I received a direct message on Instagram from the journalist’s girlfriend, who was also a former schoolmate:

“Hey Liz! Just thought u might be interested in this! The Tinsel Rack is looking for collaborations for their new lifestyle line I think. All the best with your new biz!!:) Loving the artistic direction!!”

I opened the post that she had attached in her message, and began reading about how The Tinsel Rack was looking to collaborate with small businesses for their lifestyle line, Clubhouse. I immediately felt a wave of insecurity and stress wash over me – worries about not having an “aesthetic-enough” feed and being a limited one-woman production line began to eat at me, dissolving any resolve that I had to act upon this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, as I grappled with my intrusive thoughts, I remembered my new mantra about taking things one step at a time. I also remembered that a lot of good had already come out from a single act of kindness that someone had shown to me; my former schoolmate’s message about The Tinsel Rack being but the latest outcome of that. It would be a waste if I was too afraid to act on it. 

Serendipity and The Tinsel Rack

I took a deep breath in and drafted a short message to Joyce, the founder of The Tinsel Rack. I proof read my message less times that I normally would have and pressed “send”, sinking back into the cool covers of my bed. I counted the passing minutes, waiting to be rejected by a brand that was leaps and bounds ahead of PECULIAR in terms of branding, marketing, production capacity … (the list goes on).

Not long after, I received a reply. Joyce kindly congratulated me for taking the leap into entrepreneurship, and said that she was interested in exploring a possible collaboration between her brand and mine. She specifically added that she liked PECULIAR’s Instagram feed, and that our aesthetic was something that would work well with her brand. As I began screaming (and crying) internally, she sent me her colleague’s contact details and told me to drop her a message.

I sat on my bed in disbelief, trying to process everything that had happened thus far. My head swirled with a million thoughts, but one line kept emerging over and over again:

“Good things take time. One step at a time is always a good rule to follow. Keep up the good work.”

The Breakfast Collection

In all honesty, it’s been a challenging past few weeks working on this collaboration. My insecurities are still there, and they’ve actually grown larger and thornier as I’ve started taking on tasks that I never thought I’d be able to accomplish. Despite my mounting fears, I've been pushing past them out of sheer will and necessity, in order to do better and grow into the type of entrepreneur and artist that I want to be. I’ve discovered a lot about myself during this process, and have also learnt so much through observing the creativity and work ethic of the team at The Tinsel Rack. They’ve treated me with so much kindness, and have made PECULIAR’s first brand collaboration one that I will hold dearly in my heart for a long time.

Together, we’ve created the Morning Made Tall Mug and the Better Days Brekkie Bowl; the sweetest and daintiest breakfast duo designed to lift your spirits during these challenging stay-at-home days. As always, every single piece is handmade, glazed and fired in my home studio, and is the product of so much love, sweat and tears from both brands (most of the tears admittedly coming from my side.) If you're keen on finding out more about the pieces, do head to The Tinsel Rack's website on 1 August, at 8pm, to see them in their full glory.

As the dust settles and I look forward to launching the collection, I can't help but feel that each mug and bowl has become infused with a healthy dose of kindness, providence and good luck; a nod to the genesis of this crazy, serendipitous tale. 

Here’s to better mornings and days ahead, for all of us.

Love, Liz 

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