Monthly Archives: June 2012

on the business of dig

A bit on the story of our family business and the direction it’s headed… While working full time at the Missoula Art Museum, I started a small gardening business many years ago called dig this chick. Eventually, I stopped pulling other people’s weeds and started a blog to track my own weed pulling. I named it dig this chick. And then it changed and grew. I learned to sew on my grandma’s sewing machine because I was surprisingly pregnant and didn’t like any of the kid clothes in my budget. At first I made another blog, where I wrote about my pregnancy and changing life. Eventually, that seemed silly since it was all my life; no division between growing carrots and growing a human. So I merged the two together. I continued sewing and people liked my designs. I opened an online shop and started selling. I still do all of my sewing on my grandma’s Singer Featherweight It’s all dig this chick and that was a mostly spontaneous, trusting-my-gut choice. Or, rather, it just always felt right, like it was all the same thing. Me. Dig. My studio, 2011. Still moving into my new space (in the apartment we lived in for the last six months). I had an exchange with Margot yesterday: Me: Bug, what do I do for work? Margot: You write. And you sew stuff for other kids. And adults. With Ruby and me. Margot, 2011 I didn’t use to be but I now am the most flexible, patient person I know. My business is a Family Business in the truest sense. My kids are with me most always. Most of the time it works really well. At times it’s really challenging. Margot, Ruby and their friend, Reuben at our temporary shop space I feel so lucky to work with my Margot and Ruby. It’s real and honest-to-goodness. They know I work for them, for our family. I do my best to model appreciation and abundance. They are witness to the tangible connection to the work we do, the effect we have. They get it. They know they are are a part of it, they are most of it really. Margot and Ruby at the shopAndy and Ruby setting up for the MADE Fair, December 2010Summer MADE Fair, last weekend We have two employees. Kathie is our amazingly wonderful seamstress. We’ve been working together for nearly two years. Sarahjess assists in all manner of dig things. She is a huge part of my family’s life and also babysits the girls on occasion. Sarahjess is having a baby this summer! Dig this chick is growing and we are over the moon about it. Last week we received our fourth shipment of 2000 tags! We are amazed and grateful for the over 6000 dig handmades floating around the world. What?! Thank YOU. While we do continue to create and sell new designs, we spend most of our energy on the GEO line: attire and homewares featuring geographical silhouettes. We create custom, detailed, meticulously stitched appliqué shirts, hoodies, hot pads and tea towels featuring the place(s) you love. handstamping and customization available bottom photo set: a few recent group orders: hoodies for the bridesmaids to a Montana bride, t shirts for grandkids featuring a canoe, lake Ocoee and the Cherokee word for Ocoee, New Jersey tea towels for a family reunion. And we have plans! Growth is an interesting, delicate thing with a small business. I chose this career so I could maintain a specific quality of life. My definition of success is wholly about feeding my creative brain, contributing to my community, supporting my family and spending as much time as I can with the people I love. I want to contribute beauty to our world. Dig this chick strives to grow smartly and sustainably. We applied for a grant to help us do that. Specifically, we applied to win $250,000 which we will mostly keep in Missoula, offering well-paying jobs with benefits. We will manufacture GEO items, expanding our reach and as we grow, we will give back. Will you take a moment to vote for us? Click here and click ‘login and support’ and then search for ‘dig this chick’ (Many non-facebook users have asked how they can vote. As far as I know, you need a facebook subscription to vote! Thanks for asking.) Thank you so much for your support. With appreciation, Nici and family Read more on on the business of dig…
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always there for us

After a rainy and chilly end of spring in Montana, it seems summer really did come with the solstice. I wrote about Margot and her bike in this week’s mama digs: training wheels. About her beautifully strong personality and her direct ability to put me right in my place when I need it. Love this kid. We’ve been busy working on home renovations and I am eager to share stories about paint, arranging and moving. However…it’s summer! And while I am thankful to be doing all this messy, tiring work with windows open and cottonwood adrift, I am also eager to think about something else here today. You get it. As awesome as it is to bury my nose in a new house and sculpt it into home, it is equally awesome to walk right away and stretch my face and feet to infinity. Isn’t that magical? The never-ending sky, the solid earth that surrounds and connects you and me. Always there for us. ps I get many questions about my business from you all and I am working on a post about it. I look forward to sharing the story of the evolution of dig this chick and answering some of your questions later this week. I recently thought a lot about our story and plans because we applied for a big ol’ grant, one that asks for community support. My family would appreciate your vote! It’s easy: click here, login into your facebook account, search for ‘dig this chick’ and vote (you can vote for more than one business!). Thank you. Read more on always there for us…
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farmer’s wife

I remember reading a blog post a while back by a farming mama of several kids (I searched and searched and her blog is gone!) who was navigating her role in their home. It takes a lot of work to care for the stead and its inhabitants and a lot of work to farm so a division of work emerged: she kept wanting to farm, trying to work the fields, feeling badly that she wasn’t keeping up until she shifted her focus from being a farmer to being the farmer’s wife. I get this right now: I so want to work on the house but with Andy working on the house, I am needed in homemaking. He rewires outlets and I make meals. He drywalls the bathroom and I take a hike with the kids. He installs smoke detectors and I do chicken chores. Ruby plants thyme Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. Make it.  Homemade “paint”: flour, water and food coloring LOTS of last-minute pizza making. This one: leftover squash soup, pan fried carrots, tofu, garlic, broccoli topped with feta.And this one, Margot’s invention: olive oil, asparagus, toasted pine nuts, apricots and goat cheese.  Right now, my role isn’t as glamorous or exciting, accomplishments aren’t as magnificent and gasp-worthy. But I have to say, as much as I sometimes crave uninterrupted groovy time with my home-remodeling self, I have no problem cozying up to the world of domesticity. I like it a lot, caring for my herd. My husband and I are working together, toward a goal and then back toward slower, shared participation in our every day. I often think about homesteading women, like my ancestors from northwestern Montana. How the men would be gone for days, weeks or months hunting or working while the women kept the entire house full of people and animals fed, warm, educated and entertained. I think about how hard that would be as I run warm water in a bathtub, toss laundry in a machine, drive my car to the market to fetch half and half, call someone to fix my leaky spigot, write by myself while my husband makes dinner and gets the kids in bed. No matter what it looks like, or what century or country we live in, women are good at holding shit together on the homefront.   And sometimes, in the hours after my daughters have been fed and washed and tucked or before our home awakens, I get my home reno on. OUR BEDROOM Behold the carpet that is glued to carpet padding that is glued to the floor: that’s the door to the sunroom The steps for removal: Read more on farmer’s wife…
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(not so much) in my garden

Clouds tumbled across the sky so quickly, a kaleidoscope of color ebbed over the land. I was deep charcoal and shadowless and then brightly lit and squinting and then wet with fat rain drops, all in a matter of the few minutes it took for me to trot out to collect eggs and return. On my way back I stepped over my garden gloves, the same ones I’d stepped over every day for a few weeks now. I keep seeing them there, lying like deflated, once-lively balloons. Drenched with rain and then dried by sun, several times over. A reminder that I’m not in the garden as much as I’m accustomed.  Our home projects have kept me in, our life kept me busy elsewhere. I’m ok with it as that’s all great stuff but, oh I miss full days turning soil, sunned shoulders. I miss intimately knowing every tuck and fold of my plot, being aware of every change. Today I walked barefoot on the straw paths, my tomatoes strangers.  Our seeds were planted later than ever before and yet they faithfully oblige. They feel that same tumult of cloud-sun-rain and magically leap out of the dirt. Until I am part of that soil, I will remain awestruck at the miraculous process: a palmful of seeds becomes a forest of nourishment. ps No mama digs today. New column up next Monday. Read more on (not so much) in my garden…
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sunroom sanctuary

I am up super early this morning. I fell asleep with the girls again last night. I told them the story of the diamond in my wedding ring while they took turns holding it. Margot, at four, imagining her papa at four finding a loose stone and keeping it for all those years is pure, wide eyed magic. Again, I was in my clothes and full intention of painting into the wee hours with my mother-in-law, husband and our friend. My body, the one that had cut and sewed for hours, had other ideas and I woke in the deep black tumbling creek night as Andy climbed into our family sunroom bed. I like being the first one up, something I thought I surely never say again after a few years of Ruby Early Riser. But I do love it so. For it is in the quiet still of the morning when I lay next to the full length window and watch the sun spill its light onto the mountains, I listen to the birds and squirrels sing their songs, I appreciate the warmth and security of the bodies in my bed. Yesterday, I watched a doe run up and down the hill at full speed. At first I thought she was being chased but then I realized she was playing. She was full of joy on Thursday morning and literally kicking her heels up. For all the unsettled mess that is our home right now, this sunroom is our sanctuary. It’s true that after living in our small small apartment, I have a new perspective on space. I imagined that might happen but I have been happily surprised at how big and giving our new home seems. It’s quite a bit smaller than our last home and yet its expansive. And every early morning I am reminded that the sunroom contains all we need. As my very dear and smart friend said recently, everything else is just a bonus. Read more on sunroom sanctuary…
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