Hello there! I’m Maggie, or Gussy — whichever name you want to use is fine with me! :) A handful of years ago my mom started calling me “Gussy” after Gussy the goose in Charlotte’s Web (ya know, that one goose that talks a lot?) and it became something we joked about together since we both appreciate a good, long chat. Shortly after that I was learning how to sew and I knew I needed a name for my products; “Gussy Sews” seemed like a perfect fit.
The beginning of 2014 brought a few changes to this blog. I retired the Gussy Sews blog name for Maggie Whitley Designs so my blog could better serve as an umbrella for all that I have (or have had) going on: The Gussy Sews Shop transitioned to The Gussy Club, a second handmade shop named Caroline-made, and a second baby on the way.
But back to my story ;)
I started blogging the summer of 2008, right after Zack and I were married in Grand Rapids, MI:
Zack and I met our freshman year of college at Central Michigan University and have been dating ever since. Zack is more than just a husband to me, since we met in the spring of 2004 we’ve been best friends. He challenges me, encourages me, and prays with me. I am so thankful for him.
Just a couple of months after getting married Zack set me up with a blog. Who knew that starting a blog would be the bridge to us traveling together over 8,500 miles to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International, just a few years later? I could never have dreamed such an opportunity would come our way and bless our family so much. The LORD is good! So good.
Here’s some video footage from our trip in Tanzania:
But — prior to traveling to Tanzania and having our hearts changed, this blog documented my love for handmade, building community and the things I was learning while I was teaching myself how to sew. For a long time my focus was on handmade + community building. The more I learned — the more we learned, the easier it was to share my personal experience as a handmade shop owner. Over the years my blog has evolved and I think it’s beautiful to be see it’s progression through my archives.
When I taught myself how to sew we were living in Detroit, MI. Zack and I were newlyweds and I had recently discovered Etsy. And ohhhhhh my, I was infatuated with the idea that women my age not only knew how to sew, but they were making a living from this amazing trade. I suddenly became determined to do the same thing; the Gussy Sews shop was created (spring 2009).
I started with Etsy and opened my first handmade shop. I was constantly learning new techniques, sewing new items, and sharing all of this on my blog. One day though I realized most of my Etsy shop traffic was coming from my very own blog — not Etsy, so I made the decision to move my shop to Big Cartel, where it’s currently hosted. Since my goal was to work on Gussy Sews full-time I knew watching how I advertised was important. Like, really important. I made the switch to Big Cartel, shared why, and never looked back.
We’ve called home to many cities since getting married: Lansing and Detroit, MI; Minneapolis, MN and currently Los Angeles, CA. Our zip code may change frequently, but our desire to encourage one another hasn’t dimmed.
Since I sewed my first stitch and published my first blog post, so much has changed. So many challenging, amazing life events have come our way, including new friendships.
One thing I’ve learned about blogging and sharing your life/heart online is you have to take time each day to step away from the Internet. Be present with your family, make sure you’re going on enough adventures, take some time to thank the LORD for this amazing, beautiful life you’ve been given.
I used to think having a blog meant it was “all about me”, but I’ve learned life is an intertwined story and we’re all linked together — somehow — even if it’s just a small, precious link. The things we experience wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the people around us.
Keeping an open mind, sharing what I know, building friendships — these things have helped me to quit my day job and focus on handmade full-time. One of my favorite blog categories to write on is about HOW to build your handmade business or blog. Also, I completely blame my dear friend The Nester for me writing on the “handmade business” topic for 31 days straight in October 2012 ;)
^ we documented my first pregnancy through lots of baby bump updates
^ On March 12, 2013 God blessed our family by bringing us Maxwell Zackary
In 2014 we were blessed once more with another pregnancy:
I think one of the most beautiful parts of blogging is how it’s allowed me to document the difficult alongside the easy.
Zack and I have battled 7 months of unemployment in Detroit; moved to Minneapolis in a single day; braved me quitting my day job to focus on a newly-discovered handmade dream; adopted a puppy; traveled to Tanzania, Africa; hired a team of Gussy Sews assistants (shipping, business assistant, production); prayed over & celebrated his career advancements (visual effects/production within the media industry); moved to Los Angeles to focus on Zack’s career; and the births of our children, Maxwell and Natalie.
OH! And that shop I mentioned earlier? Caroline-made launched in February 2014. This shop features designer fabrics, bronze metal zippers, suede zipper pulls and custom suede tags. And friends, it is a GORGEOUS shop! Every item inside the Caroline-made shop has been created to serve you. We were all created with purpose, a good purpose, to share our talents and wisdom with the world. And what better way to do that than with a pretty accessory for the modern, sophisticated gal?
And so I challenge you —
Those dreams you have? Let’s chase ’em! Every minute you doubt yourself is a minute you can’t ever get back.