“Birds of a feather, flock together.” I heard this phrase, along with many other sayings as a child growing up in rural Appalachia. I come from a special place, that admittedly, I never appreciated until I moved away and returned. I grew up in a small Virginia town called Big Island (not big or an island…just a mill town) on the James River, just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. A very small map dot that did not even have traffic lights, and somehow got smaller as the years went on.
I spent the majority of my free time outside, playing in the woods, splashing in the creek, or swimming in the river. My grandmother was undoubtedly the biggest force in my developing a love of handmade items and crafting. She was my role model, my best friend, and a teacher I never knew was passing down to me generations of wisdom in her stories. She and so many other women like her in my family grew up during hard times. Rural Appalachia is not known for its luxuries, but rather a tradition of hard work, and an innate self-sufficiency and independence that grew from the necessity of being secluded away amongst the mountains. The women in my family were no “wilted flower” types; they were and are more like dandelions. I was taught to always count on myself first, and learned a number of skills such as canning, gardening, and just about every hand craft you can imagine.
I am honored and humbled to be a part of the “flock” of strong, resilient women who came before me. They weathered many wars, hard times, and survived the Great Depression by growing their own food, making their own clothes, and learning to be resourceful. Those lessons were passed down to me, along with an incessant need to create and make things with my own two hands.
The “Pearl” is a reference to the nickname my grandmother Katie gave to me. She called me “Kellie Pearl” as I was her only granddaughter. I too endured a number of hardships as a child, and looked to her a great deal as an example of stability, and resilience. She told me once “you know why a pearl is so special? Because they don’t make very many of them, you could open a bucket full of oysters and not find a single one. But when you do you know you have something special, because it takes a lot of grit to make a pearl.” I did not realize until I was much older what she meant by that. Her guidance was a large part in making me who I am today. And I am eternally grateful for the years I had with her. This name is to honor her, all of the other pearls, the dandelions, the elegant, spitfire spirits in my “flock” who lived before me.