04.24.19

The Violet Waffle

Posted in business-a-go-go, Look What I Can Do Wednesday, Main, Mind Wanderings, NC, Raleigh at 10:59 am by carrie

Howdy!

I used to be a prolific blogger back in 2006 before Facebook & snap-tube and all those social networking services came around. You had Friendster and Myspace. Period. And you were happy to have that.

But now there’s SO many platforms to explore, it’s surprising we talk to each other at all. I’m secretly hoping blogging will make a comeback… but most of them have ads every 2 inches. I promise not to do that.

So now I will ramble on about the last few years in retail. I tend to like to do that. If you’d like to just scroll down to the pictures, I’d totally get it.

After our first store called Violets are Blue closed in La Crescenta, California in 2007, I thought maybe retail was not in the cards for me anymore. But in 2015… I wandered into a really cool mixed-vendor store in Raleigh that I had found on Instagram (more social media!), met a charismatic, adorable store manager named Dale and signed up to be a vendor on the spot. A 10′ x 10′ spot. Not a huge commitment. But it was definitely a “did that really just happen?!?!” moment.

Then I expanded into the extra large window space, and then another space. And I was spending more time at Inspirations and getting to know everyone, and started doing some of their marketing.

As of January 2019, I was set to occupy even more floor space and then suddenly, we lost Dale. And… I wasn’t sure if I wanted any of it. Dale was the icing on the cake at the store and now it just felt like a muffin. (Dale and I used baked good analogies a LOT, actually.)

After a month of me basically feeling sad, waffling back and forth over wanting to stay, handing in my letter of intention to leave then retracting it… I decided to stay at Inspirations. The other vendors and the owner were so supportive through my indecisiveness, so it was clear that I needed to stay. The new store manager, Edward, had a vision for each vendor, and for me it was for my space to be more cohesive. And spread out. Because we all know I like things to look like a jam-packed Willy Wonka wonderland (it appeals to some!). So being spread out has been a huge challenge for this happy-cave-making merchandiser.

So, here are my sketches…



And this is how it turned out… (always a work in progress!!)


And Dale looking over us…

And even a video!


It doesn’t look exactly like the sketches, but close! Here’s a little behind the scenes…


Willy Wonka what now?

Starting to scare everyone…

It took WEEKS to get this all sorted out. It’s like moving your home while wearing a ball gown haha

Goodbye window booth… you were so good to me, thank you!

I definitely had a larger following and knew more of my customers at Violets are Blue in Los Angeles, but that’s slowly starting to change. I’m getting to meet my regulars in Raleigh because people are slowly starting to discover us, so it’s been fun to see familiar faces come back in. So now I have my West Coast retail memories and my East Coast ones and they sort of converge in the middle (where there is some doppelgänger activity going on! Ohmigosh, there was one day where I had about 7 people come in who looked and acted JUST like friends/customers I had in LA… got me all nostalgic and choked up!).

If you’ve read my older posts, I frequently talk about retail being an emotional roller coaster, very high highs, low lows, so much fun at times, a huge challenge others and like a “baby cemented in the ground” all the rest of the time. For some reason, you put so much of yourself into a shop like this. Maybe if you have a store you can elaborate… but we all do it. I think it’s like a lot of genuinely rewarding things in life, really.

One day there’s so much love, the other… total frustration and maybe even a huge loss to stop you in your tracks. Every January, as you are packing up Christmas trees you ask yourself, should I keep doing this? Can I really do this? Then something gets you excited about a display or a customer tells you how you touched them emotionally and you’re all in again.

Always a back and forth labor of love. It’s a violet waffle.

04.22.19

Bobby “Dale” James

Posted in Main, Mind Wanderings, Raleigh at 3:13 pm by carrie



Most of you already know, but we lost our store manager suddenly at the end of January to a heart attack.

Dale was incredibly friendly, silly and just… fun. Everyone wanted to be his friend, people came into the store JUST to see him. It was hard not to gravitate towards him. He was beyond thoughtful and took genuine joy in your joy. I can’t tell you enough how wonderful this person was. To all of us.

He loved dogs the most. If you happen to be looking to donate, he would recommend your local SPCA or perhaps one in NC called Saving Grace Animal Rescue where he got his dog, Chloe.

The store will forever feel different… we are well aware of that. He was so proud of Inspirations and worked so hard on it. You couldn’t turn around without seeing a special touch of his.

So many people have expressed their unbelievable sorrow over his passing. His adorable hat, sometimes a bow tie, his love of wine… serving and partaking, his laugh, animated hand waving and mannerisms… the Dale-isms… all going to be missed so much. (You can see some of that in the video below).

I am so honored to have known him (especially at 3am when he’d send the funniest texts!) and I will find ways to remember him and carry on his legacy. We could all benefit from more Dale-inspired kindness, thoughtfulness and silliness in our lives.


Watercolor painting of Chloe I gave Dale for his Birthday on January 3rd

Watercolor painting I did of his sweet Say-D… his heart dog. If you watch the video below, he’s opening these two paintings at the end of the video. He absolutely loved them and I’m so incredibly grateful that I had the chance to give these to him.


10.16.18

Friends and Family Event 2018

Posted in business-a-go-go, Events!, Main, NC, Raleigh at 11:43 am by carrie

It’s our 2nd Annual Friends & Family event!

Join us while we don our Holiday best and shower our closest supporters with gifts, festive food and a great atmosphere as a huge THANK YOU for your support! You’ll get the store all to yourself while we mingle, shop, nibble and sip.

Friday, November November 2nd, 6:00pm – 8:00pm.



For more info, visit our event page on Facebook.

Hope to see you there!

Inspirations Home Decor and More, 8601 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC

03.08.18

Nominate us, please!

Posted in business-a-go-go, NC, Raleigh at 1:43 pm by carrie



Indy Week Best of the Triangle 2018 nominations are open, would you please vote for Inspirations Home Decor and More in the following categories:

Best Furniture Store in the Triangle

Best Gift Shop in Wake County

Best Home Accessory Store in the Triangle

Best Home Furnishing Store in the Triangle

Best Women’s Boutique in Wake County

You may have to add our name to the nomination name under “Don’t see your favorite?”. Please enter “Inspirations Home Decor and More” in that field. Thank you SO much!!!