{the story of Gussy Sews, part I}

I thought it would be really therapeutic to gather my story // experience as an Indie Biz owner of Gussy Sews and share it here through multiple posts. When my story first began I didn’t know where it would take me, so I didn’t document it in full-detail. November 2011 marks my third year since learning how to sew, and as of today I’ve been pursuing Gussy Sews full-time for 15 months. Looking back ~ the aid that blogging and Social Media has brought to my business is seriously amazing. I am so appreciate of the THOUSANDS of customers that have placed orders as well as the lovely clusters of repeat customers. You know who you are :]

Since I opened a shop, just a couple of years ago, I’ve had only a few negative customer experiences. This is so important to me ~ it is solid proof that having a positive attitude {personally & professionally} is like holding a magic fairy wand ~ over time, and with a lot of patience, having a positive attitude will help you to succeed at all things. It also is a sign that I’m really enjoying my job. And that that I say: OF COURSE I AM, I AM GUSSY!!! tee hehe.

So here is my story — I feel like I’ve always held back because it seems so final to write it out. But that’s silly, I know. Here I go…


Hello there! My name is Maggie Whitley and I’m the owner/designer of a blog and ruffled accessory shop, both called Gussy Sews. I’ve been sewing since November 2008, and a lot of my story has been shared since then (but not in one place, and not super detailed, either).

I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI with my parents, an older brother, Matt, our doggy Sonny and a few bunnies. My childhood is filled with fun memories that include many family & friend parties, lots of swimming, VBS, annual vacations, movies/ice-cream/nail polish/talking, just to name a few of my favorite things :] After high school I enrolled & graduated from Central Michigan University, which is where I met my hubby, Zack. I was so excited to study journalism & art and prepare for my dream job: to be a magazine editor.

Zack and I met through our many mutual friends. We also lived in the same area on campus and so I saw him constantly. HE WAS (is) SO CUTE! It was pure fate that we met :] Zack has such a kind personality ~ he’s super fun and is very passionate about life, and these things attracted me to him instantly. Zack was also singing in an all-male a capella group (swoon!) and would often bring his singing buddies to my dorm room to sing to me in the evening. One of my favorite, favorite songs is Insomniac by Billy Pilgrim. When we were at are our parent’s houses in the summertime he’d sing that song to me on the phone late at night. So… when we got married in June 2008 we choose that for our First Dance ♥.

If Zack were to share his side of our story, he’d say we met because I was constantly saying hello to him from across the street. Which I won’t deny! hah ;]

But it worked, because after 2 years of dating Zack proposed…

Our engagement story is one of my favorites to share: Zack and I lived near each other throughout college, but in the summertime we moved back to our parent’s houses. For three summers in a row we lived three (!!!) hours apart. It was so, so terribly “oh my heart is broken!” hard. I was constantly counting down until it was time to see each other again. Most of the time we saw each other every 2 weeks, which I realize is a lot, but it’s also not enough when you’re used to seeing your love multiple times a day during the school year. Anyways :] Zack and his family visited our family cottage one weekend in the summer. They came over for the day — Zack grew up in Petoskey, MI, by the way — and when it was time for them to pack up & leave I just stood there with tears welling up in my big blue eyes. Meeting Zack and becoming is girlfriend sparked this warm fire in my heart and so I hated to be away from him.

Zack and his family drove off and there I was, crying. And once it was clear he wasn’t going to turn the car around I was still crying, haha! I made it through, though. The following weekend we were back at my family’s cottage. I was feeling a little sad because it was also my birthday weekend (my birthday is July 5th) but Zack had plans with his family in northern Michigan. Translation >> he wouldn’t be coming down to visit me. I’m sure I pouted for like 32 minutes over this, but all-in-all I was OK with it. Mainly because I had no other choice. I remember Saturday, July 3rd was a gorgeous weekend day — the sun was out and I had just come in from a ride on the Sea*Doo. I was walking up to the deck, unbuckling my life jacket, and there comes Zack — OH MY HOTNESS — he’s right there and he’s smiling and I’m squealing and jumping and then I jumped up ON him to give him a hug. I am sure I had the most ridiculous, shocked look on my face. I was sooo so so excited to see him. He told me he was able to come down for a weekend visit after all. I remember I kept asking, Are you here all weekend? You’re really here all weekend? yeowwwwwwww!

Ohhh, I was such a happy girl. We lounged on the deck for the next couple of hours and then headed off to a restaurant for dinner. I had this crazy suspicion he was here to propose, I kept telling myself how that would be just too perfect, being my birthday and all. We drove to dinner, ate dinner, came back from dinner, but no ring.

To be continued…

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  1. 7

    Mare says

    Your blog has been so inspirational for me. I’ve always loved sewing and writing (having once tried a blog before, now giving it another go) – I also convinced by boyfriend to get me my first sewing machine. Can’t wait for the next part of your story !!!!

  2. 14


    This sounds like it’s going to be a very cute story (: Where did you go to school? Just curious because I went to high school in Grand Rapids too.

  3. 17

    Amy says

    Ohh…such a wonderful story;) Billy Pilgrim transports me right back to my college days at Winona State and one of my dearest friends. Thanks for sparking the memory!

  4. 20


    I can NOT believe you have only been sewing for 3 years! Amazing. Maybe I should get my sewing machine out and get to work! My problem I want to spend a ton of money on fabric.
    I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story, I love engagment stories.

  5. 24


    Gussy you are contagiously happy!! And I love reading from your perspective because of that! I was reading along and got to the “I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI” part and got even happier…ME TOO, ME TOO!! I live about 15 minutes south of downtown now, but GR will always feel like home =)

    Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished…you are inspiring and encouraging…and I appreciate you!

  6. 26


    I didn’t know you and your hubby went to CMU – I did too! I was there 2001-2005. Then I headed out to California for a couple of years and just moved back to Michigan a few months ago. Looking forward to hearing part 2 of your story! :)

    • 27


      hi sarah! yes, we were there from 2003 – 2008, so halfway through your time there. it’s been so long since either of us has been on campus. i know they have done some major renovations + additions, and i’d love to get back there to see them. i loved CMU’s camus… loved it!!! and italian oven is my favorite restaurant everrrr. hah! :)

  7. 28

    Kaitlin says

    This is so odd, just read the first couple of lines: Grand Rapids, MI? Yeah, I live there. Small world:)

  8. 31


    Gah! You can’t leave me hanging! I guess I’ll have to creep the rest of your blog/site/shop while I’m waiting… :) Which is no problem at all. I love that you taught yourself to sew (I taught myself after receiving my 1st sewing machine for Mother’s Day last year). I also studied journalism! I am nowhere near your level of productivity, though, with two kids under two (how do those DIY/craft/sewing mama bloggers DO it?!) i’ll live vicariously through you instead. :)

  9. 32


    D.C. area would receive 30 ft – it had my huansbd and I chuckling. We have about 7″ of snow but for the last two hours, we have been listening to sleet pelt against our tin roof. Glad you are safe and warm inside – those crazy New Englanders what are they thinking :-)


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