Growing up in a small town in Minnesota, I explored 40 acres of field and woods, played store with my two sisters, and sewed and crafted with my mom. The fort & field name grew out of this lifelong love of the home and garden... "fort" for home and "field" for garden. 

While the roots of fort & field started when I was just a child, the business I had always dreamed of was formed in 2004. 

During the holidays of that year in a small paper store, I saw a ball of traditional red and white striped bakers twine and fell in love. In the meantime while I started the exhaustive search to find the source, I measured and rolled red and white striped yarn I found in the seasonal section of the craft store into balls and it sold like hot cakes. The manufacturer of the twine I had seen at that paper store had sadly gone out of business, but I was later able to find a supplier to bakeries of 2 pound rolls in a rainbow of colors. A few years later, many companies joined the marketplace and the twine was used in everything from crafting to party planning!

While my intention had been to start a business with home and garden products, around this time the initial seeds of the do-it-yourself party planning movement had just begun to be planted and I was thoroughly inspired. There were only a handful of the blogs and websites we are lucky enough to have now so I spent hours pouring over vintage craft books at the library, the Martha Stewart crafts website, and anything else I stumbled upon. 

"Down the rabbit hole" as my early days on the internet were called, I frequently ended up on sites in England, Australia, and New Zealand. The English, I discovered, used small colorful striped paper bags to package small items purchased at gift and candy stores. It's hard to believe now, but here in the US at the time there were very few, if any, patterned paper bags available for sale. So, I started importing the bags from England. Because there was such a void in the marketplace for such a bag (and also because of the high shipping costs to import the bags), they originally sold for $80/100 bags! Year after year, as more options became available through both small shops and large retailers, the prices went down and there are currently a plethora of options available. 

Shortly after, I added colored and square paper doilies to the shop, a variation from the typical white round paper doily. In a long search one afternoon for new doily styles, I landed on a seafood restaurant supplier site. While visiting a new site, I often clicked through the other sections to see if I could spot a fantastic restaurant supply product that could translate to the party arena. On this afternoon, I saw a black and white pencil drawing of striped paper straws. I had never seen a paper straw, let alone a patterned straw in my life, but they certainly seemed interesting! So, I ordered a box of solid white and a box of red & white striped. I figured "what the heck, I'll try them out!"... and the rest is history! These original straws were still manufactured in the same process I believe as in the 50's and 60's, very lightweight and a waxy paper that was prone to unraveling. Now many years later, striped straws have become (quite literally) a must-have staple for every party and wedding. The manufacturing process was perfected and every pattern and color of paper straw is now at arms reach!

I spent the next 13 years sourcing and bringing to the marketplace other unique and hard to find party and packaging supplies, selling directly to individuals and wholesale around the world. Below is the stack of boxes ready to be shipped out to some of my very first customers, my version of saving the first dollar earned in this digital world we live in. Such a wonderful and exciting time as the DIY craft and small business movement was starting to inspire so many!

I was honored to have fort & field featured in Real Simple Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, Southern Weddings Magazine, Eco Beautiful Weddings Magazine, and Wedding Style Guide. fort & field has continued to offer essentials for any event. And, in recent years expanded to include carefully curated pieces for home, garden, gifts, and fashion; the lifestyle company I envisioned at fort & field's inception so many years ago. Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me on this journey and in all that is yet to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment