(Gail) I’ve been married to my husband, Mark, for nearly 33 years. We have one daughter, Heather (28), who is married to Carl Mentesana. Our son, Nick (25), graduated from two colleges and is currently working his dream job restoring high-end vintage cars.
How long ago did your nest empty?
Our nest emptied after Heather’s wedding and our son was in college at A&M in 2011. I, more than Mark, was ready for a new adventure in life and to me, that meant changing my living space. So, we downsized that year from our home that was geared towards teenagers in Plano and moved to a rental apartment closer to husband’s job downtown. We lived in a mini-high rise; it was very fun! We wanted to see if we liked the “high rise life”. We stayed there a year and while it was great, and we would do it again on a temporary basis, we decided we still like having a yard and our own garage. We found a home built in 1942 that had been partially remodeled; we bought it, remodeled, and moved in. It is about 3000 square feet. We love the size of the home; it is easy for me to clean. We each have an office/hobby room which is very nice.
Did you do anything to prepare for an empty nest? Did you have a “plan?”
The only thing I did to get ready for the empty nest was to learn to play Bridge! I sent an email out to my friends and got a group together that wanted to take lessons. We hired a teacher to come to my home once a week for 6 weeks and we learned the game. I realized that as I got older, to know a game like this would be a way to socialize and meet people. It is a fun, challenging game and I am so glad I play it now. Besides that, I knew I wanted to move closer to downtown so Mark could cut down on his commute.
Tell us about your business.
My business is called Confetti and Lace, and I make one-of-a-kind wedding accessories, lingerie bags, and wedding memory albums. When my daughter Heather got engaged (about five years ago now), I looked for a wedding memory album similar to the one given to me when I was a bride-to-be. Not only could I not find one that was unique and custom but I couldn’t find any that used scripture verses. So, I made one for her using the lace from my wedding gown. Our wedding coordinator advised us that the more handmade or personal touches there are at a wedding, the more unique and special the occasion is, so I also made the ring bearer pillows myself, adding Heather & Carl’s monogram. Along the way, I discovered that I loved working with satin, lace, and ribbons! With lots of encouragement from family and friends, I started a shop on Etsy.
What was your transition to the empty nest like and how did it affect your business?
The transition to the empty nest was harder than I had imagined. The anchor was gone and I wasn’t sure in what direction to start rowing. It’s a weird feeling to get put into “retirement” and watch your “jobs” happily move onto new adventures. The first weeks/months of the empty nest I was somewhat at loose ends. Since I had been a stay-at-home mom and “volunteer extraordinaire” at the kid’s school, when they left for college, I felt like I was adrift in open water. There were some lonely moments at first, and an odd feeling that everyone had moved on without me, but I quickly realized should take advantage of my freedom: I could go where I wanted, when I wanted and it was a great feeling. I started visiting museums, visiting friends, taking up hobbies that I had stopped long ago, and I planned some trips. I love learning and the internet brings the world to your laptop…literally! I read about people and places I find interesting, I follow a couple of diverse blogs, I love Instagram, I look up terms and articles to read. I read novels, new and old.
I am blessed to live in the greatest country in the world, and opportunities abound for reinventing myself. There has never been a more exciting time to live in human history! The World Wide Web is a phenomenal tool for learning about things that people 100 years ago could only dream of knowing. I can’t believe that I can create something in my home, and someone in The Netherlands may see it on Etsy and order it. (When I actually had a purchase like that come through, I couldn’t believe it!) One reason I decided to open a shop on Etsy was that it forced me to learn a lot bout doing business online, publicity, etc. I love meeting the brides and helping them with their wedding details. I have liked expanding my business to other areas besides weddings. I have taken some sewing classes to broaden my skills.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
It’s all about choosing a name that is not already in use! I tried several names that were already taken, but I finally found one I liked that was available.
Who is a typical Confetti & Lace client?
A typical client is a bride or her Mom, who loves and appreciates one-of-a-kind items made from the best materials. They also tend to be romantics at heart!
What is the design and creation process like and how long does it typically take?If I am filling a custom order, I interview the person. I try to get to know them, or if the item is a gift, get to know a little about the recipient. I find out things like favorite colors, if the person likes ‘timeless and tailored” or “trendy and spunky” styles, etc. Depending on what they like, I figure it out from there and create the item. If I am creating an item to put up for sale on my site, then I just have fun putting together colors and laces that I like or that I think girls would like. The design and creation process takes about two weeks, although if the client wants a monogram, that adds about a week to the timeline.
The budget depends on what the customer wants. For example, if they are providing the lace that goes on their item, there is a cost saving, whereas adding a monogram adds a little to the price. Most of what I charge is for my labor; I never want someone (especially a bride) not to have something she desires for her wedding. Every woman, I don’t care who she is, wants to feel like a queen on her wedding day!What are your best-selling designs or most popular items?
My best sellers are wedding accessories followed by lingerie bags. The lingerie bags make great gifts and are at a good price point. I can make them in a range of satin colors with or without monograms. The wedding accessories are almost always custom ordered and help make a wedding day extra special. The wedding albums, however, are my favorite item to create. They are where it all started for me! I love to personalize them to fit the bride and groom by adding personal details and meaningful scriptures about love and marriage throughout the pages of the albums.
(Suzy) Recently I took Sarah, my daughter-in-law-to-be, to meet with Gail about a custom wedding album. At that first appointment, Gail spent some time getting to know Sarah – finding out how she and my son met, how he proposed, and asking about scripture that was meaningful to them. Sarah brought some beautiful lace appliques from her own mother’s wedding dress for Gail to incorporate into her book and she was able to customize further by indicating specifically which pages she wanted her book to contain. The finished creation is a work of art that will make Sarah and Weston’s wedding extra special for everyone. (See below.) Thank you, Gail!
Do you have any advice for other empty nesters or soon-to-be empty nesters?
There will be adjusting to this phase of life – no denying takes some getting used to, for sure. Keep trying new things; stay interested in many areas; when an opportunity presents itself, go for it. Develop lasting friendships; be the best at what you are naturally good at.(Suzy) I hope you all were inspired by Gail and the empty nester business she created. She’s brought joy and beauty to many brides!
They can contact me through my Confetti & Lace Etsy site, or follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.