I closed my shop & here’s what happened.

Emily Ley Simplified Planners at Pencil Shavings Studio

As you may know, I closed my shop on December 31st after 5 years of designing and manufacturing and styling and shopkeeping and tax-taking and pop-up-shopping and … well, you get the point.

A few days after I made the formal announcement, I went into my favorite paperie here in Oklahoma City and I looked around at all the beautiful products, several designed by people who are friends. And I felt this deep pang, like I was stopping in the race and watching everyone else go on while I stayed behind. I felt like I was leaving the club. I love paper, design, products, pretty things, ribbons, packaging — all of it. Why was I stopping?

Several people have commented to me about the closing of the shop. Initially it was kind of difficult to talk about, to be honest. Bittersweet is probably the best word for it. And it was frustrating because I felt a little misunderstood, as if I was going to quit doing stuff all together (not true!). But as January 1st dawned and the holiday season craziness was over, I felt shockingly light,  like a huge burden was lifted. I feel so much freer and I’m ready to tackle new things, and open myself up to other projects.  I feel a subtle shift in my style happening and by letting go of the shop, I feel better able to approach the next phase in my creative career.

Molly Hatch for Anthropologie mugs

Back in 2012, I attended Alt Summit for the first time and it kind of rocked my world (as evidenced by a solid week of posting about it – gahhhh OVERENTHUSIASM). One of the takeaways I had from that experience was to build a routine of doing things that bring you joy, to maximize your productivity. My job as a designer who works from home tends to be kind of solitary, which is great in some part because I need some alone time. But I didn’t love the isolation of being at home all day. So in 2012, I spent a lot of time on my Mother’s Day Out free days sitting in coffee shops with my laptop, meeting new people, enjoying the time out of my house and in the world, exploring new little shops. And much of Pencil Shavings Studio and the products I created was born from that experience. It was so joyous to me and I look back fondly on that year in particular.

So what happened? What changed? Well, I got busy enough with the shop that I didn’t have time to do that anymore. There wasn’t any time left for thought and coffee shops, for the nurturing of my creativity. There was too much time spent managing stuff, shipping (which was necessary and required me to be at home all the time), shooting product images (which I do absolutely love) — it meant less time for writing, meeting, hanging out, dreaming, and ultimately inspiration.

Already two weeks into this new year, and I’ve made changes. I’m using those two precious Mother’s Day Out days that I get a week for joy-finding and soul tending. I’ve been back at that favorite cafe numerous times, and I’ve enjoyed spending time on leisurely lunch dates with my husband. Simon has remarked how different I seem already – more present, more joyous. I feel it too. Change is good. It doesn’t make it easy and it doesn’t mean there isn’t a little grief for What Was. But I have hope for What Will Be.


  1. run again
  2. be a better friend
  3. less overwhelm, more margin
  4. practice art (calligraphy, drawing)
  5. read more
  6. write more stories
  7. document my kiddos more
  8. hone my photography skills
  9. shoot more pictures
  10. attend a creative conference


  • Emily Clark

    I love this. Great to hear.

  • Sarah

    I know how brave you are to make that big decision to close shop. I have experienced the same thing recently and once I did it, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders as well. Know that you are not alone and that change is good. It’s these times of change where we grow and prosper. It has to get a little messy before it gets calm and you experienced that. It’s in the calm that you’ll realize your inspiration.

  • Christi

    I already miss your shop … when I picked up those few items I scrambled to order, I thought of a dozen more I should have ordered. Not only because they are beautiful, but because they were designed with your whole heart!

    And, then, I completely understand why you closed the shop – congratulations on enjoying the lightness of this new year! Whatever comes next is going to be incredible!

  • Rachel,

    I had no idea the shop closed! Very brave of you, but it seems like it was a great move for you. Sounds like 2016 is going to treat you right! Cheers to the next adventure!


  • whoorl

    Proud of you, mama! Many good things to come! xoxo

  • Cynthia Horn

    Rachel, this is very inspiring! 2016 is going to be a breath of fresh air for you even if you give up on all but one of the goals from your list 🙂

  • Sarah

    So excited for you and inspired by you! It’s hard to let go of something good and hope for something great. Best wishes!

  • Jessica Mayfield

    Soul-tending, being more present and joyous is the sweetest! What an exciting season your walking into! Congratulations on making the bold move!

  • Sunshine

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart Rachel! I too am contemplating a different creative direction, away from retail that is but I haven’t made the bold move to close shop just yet. Have some things in the works such as working with the biggest design show out of Canada, as well as taking online classes in real estate so that I can have access to buy and authentically flip homes, desiring to work more in the modern world. Retail just isn’t pushing me to my fullest I feel. Sometimes I question my direction but can only trust my Daddy above to open the right doors as I walk through them. My best to you in your new adventures!

    • You’ve got so much going for you! Been thinking about you a lot lately – we should rendezvous soon for coffee or something. I have zero doubt that whatever you choose to do next will be smashing!

  • shana myers

    I’m very proud of you and your decision. I too am looking to change my plan and goals as being stressed and crabby shouldn’t be one of them in 2016.

    • That right there is pure brilliance. You’re absolutely right – being stressed and crabby isn’t what I want to be either.

  • lexi

    This is such a great post and from the sound of it, a great decision! Now how can I get myself those Mothers Day Outs? 🙂

    • Oh girl they are the best. THE ABSOLUTE BEST. Those two days a week are golden! Several churches in our area host them.

  • mckenzie fussell

    I closed my little shop as well, to focus on blogging and give myself a break. Best decision ever but I totally get the “feeling like you’ve jumped out of the race” mentality. Prayers for you friend! Loved hearing the heart behind your closing. xo, mckenzie (Winsome & Gold)