I worked today. Not long. Maybe 4 hours. But it was the 4th of July, and while most people were having backyard bbqs and beers with friends, I was waxing, putting D-rings on, and stamping pieces that either need to be photographed or shipped. At some point, it occurred to me that it was a holiday and that I could probably be relaxing in front of the TV or taking a nap. There was a time when I probably would have gone down the self pity route.

But instead of thinking “Why me?”, I felt grateful. 

I can’t say that I always feel that way, and I would be lying if I said I felt that way last week. Truth be told, when I started doing this full time, I swore I would never let myself take for granted the freedom I have, nor would I let myself forget how much I hated some of my previous jobs. I spent all of my 20s working retail jobs where I was mostly stuck in one store all day, working under people who, for the most part, weren’t fit to manage other people—let alone themselves. 

I haven’t always put the most thought into the meaning behind Independence Day.

Like everyone else, it mostly meant time for being with friends and popping fireworks. Today, probably because last week was so hard, and I spent so much of it in self pity, this 4th of July had a bit of a different meaning for me. Sure, there’s plenty of reasons to reflect on the value of personal freedom in light of the events of last year.

But more personally, I needed a reminder of why I chose this life.

Why I am so incredibly lucky to live in a country and a time when I can make my own way, live life on my own terms, and be beholden to no one—except my family and my customers. 

As stressful as the life of a small business owner can be, I would not trade this freedom (and, yes, the freedom to work on the 4th of July) for anything. 


Like many great discoveries in history—chocolate chip cookies, Post-it notes, the Slinky—Kris and Kelley Denby came up with their popular Texas wall hangings almost by accident.
In 2013—about a year into their sputtering business of repurposing furniture, called Hemlock & Heather—the Denbys decided to make and donate something to a silent auction that would benefit the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West. Kelley, who is from West, asked her husband to build something “Texasy.”
So Kris came up with a colorful wall hanging made entirely from reclaimed wood and in the iconic shape of Texas. It sold for $150. 
“People just went crazy for it,” recalls Kelley. “We were like, Maybe we’re on to something.”

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