The Story of Grandma’s Heart

My story started with this…

A poem called “Grandma’s Heart.”

These words penned nearly 20 years ago have shaped my life and led me on the path I have walked since then. And who would have known.

I was a newly-married wife, preparing for a family. My mom was a new Grandma, thanks to my sister, and was ready to enjoy the fruits of her labors. (4 labors to be exact!). A Grandma’s gushing, turned into a suggestion to start a business- a business that would be all things “Grandma”.

But what would those “things” be?

T-shirts, mugs, toys?

Not really what I had in mind. What I had in mind was capturing the “heart” of Grandma. What I had in mind had to do with the sweet memories I had of my Grandma. The little love pats, the candy dish, the Christmas’ and summers spent at her house. How do you bottle that?

My best bottle came in the form of words and eventually things that captured and held those words. Words which over the years have resonated with many who share the same thoughts about grandmas, moms, babies and family.

I initially wanted to do a children’s book with Grandma’s Heart, but in those early days, lack of experience and resources forced me to think of other alternatives. The first product was a matted print we sold to a few children’s stores. The feedback and reorders allowed us to eventually offer frames and greeting cards and a entire collection of “Heart” poems.

Grandma’s were crying and buying!

In addition to the poem, we added other features to the mats and frames, like sweet organdy ribbons and our special envelope to hold a letter from Grandma stored on the frame back.    (20 years ago, this ribbon thing was really new!)

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The envelope on the back of the poems was a sentimental touch that allowed each Grandma to really make this gift to her grandbaby her own. The envelope had a little poem and Grandma would write a letter from her heart and store it on the back of the frame. Those first Grandma’s who wrote these letters, now have grown grandchildren with handwritten words they will treasure. Customers have shared stories with me about how special this part of the gift has become. One young mother lost her mother several years after her first child was born. She was so thankful to have that letter written to her child from her mother- a memory beyond words.

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 As the years passed, the market and product demands changed. As saving and displaying ultrasound images became popular, we added Grandma’s Heart ultrasound cards and frames. We also found many Grandma’s buying Grandma’s Heart for themselves and their grandma friends, so we added a home decor styled frame. We also coupled Grandma’s Heart and Grandpa’s Heart poems for a single frame for baby’s room.

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The latest introduction has been framed prints with a more current nursery theme and ones that can also be personalized with Grandma’s own unique name…Mimi, Gigi, Gran. We can customize the name, as we address the gift needs of today’s Grandmas.

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As we near the 20th anniversay of Grandma’s Heart. I am reflecting on the journey.

So much has come from Grandma’s Heart. Much has changed in the world, and in my world yet in some ways… nothing has changed. Changing design trends, marketing, competition, the internet, these things have changed. I’ve changed too. Over two decades, I have gone from that newly married young woman to an experienced mother of 4 growing children. Ironically, I am still not a Grandma much to people’s surprise! (oh, we thought you were a grandma to write all these things!)

There is one thing that hasn’t changed.

Grandma’s Heart

The sentiment written nearly 20 years ago still captures the heart of grandmas. How fortunate for all the grandbabies and the grandbabies to come that they will still enter a world with grandmas. To celebrate the past, present and future, this year I am working on my dream of a children’s book and a few other special products to share with grandmas everywhere.

Another chapter being written…

Teri

Do you have any ideas for Grandma’s Heart gifts you would like me to create? Do you have a story of Grandma’s Heart to share? Share with me on Facebook, in comments or email info@grandparentgiftco.com.

Give us some feedback and enter to win!

Give us your input in our Grandma’s Heart Giveaway, March 10-31 by following this link here

Mom Blog: The Broken Seashell

On a recent beach trip, a day spent combing  the beach for seashells with my daughter got me thinking about how I was showing her the world.

Taking my first steps into the hot sand of summer vacation, I do what I LOVE to do at the beach- collect seashells. It is a fascination I have held since childhood. For me, a beach isn’t a beach, if it doesn’t have shells.

I walk along the water line, scanning the sand, waiting for something to catch my eye. I pick up my find and inspect it carefully. If it is a perfect shell, I deposit in my pocket. Many times I’m disappointed to discover a shell I first thought was beautiful, was really, upon closer inspection, flawed. These shells I let fall back to the sand.

Trailing me down the beach, my 10-year old daughter is also enthralled with collecting seashells, but when she picks up a shell because it catches her eye, she keeps it. It may be broken or chipped, but if there is a part she loves, it’s a keeper.

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On this day, as she had done many times before, she excitedly holds her latest find out in her sandy wet palm for me to inspect. “Isn’t this one perfect?!” she gushes. She awaits my approval. My instinct is to point out all the imperfections she’s missed. Doesn’t she see it isn’t perfect?

But this time, my heart stops my tongue. “Yes Sweet, it is beautiful.”

And off she runs, elated with her newest souvenir from the sea , and I am left wondering.

Why should I question or judge what she sees as beauty? Why should I point out the negative, when she is celebrating the positive? For the one part of her shell that glistens in the sun with wonderful colors or perhaps a delightful design, can I not look past the broken corner? Is this the way I view the world? Is this the way I am teaching her to see the world…herself… others?

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The need for perfection, not accepting or loving things that are imperfect. ..perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect grades, perfect house? Easily tossing aside things or people we see as flawed?

How about the drawing crumpled in frustration because it wasn’t perfect? Or the self loathing because her nose…her hair… her thighs… her weight…on any given day, aren’t perfect?

Hiding imperfections from others, creating a façade we only wish were real? Spending time and energy concealing or condemning our shortcomings instead of celebrating what makes us great?

What happened to applauding the things about us that “glisten in the sun?” For my daughter it is her beautiful butterfly stroke, her kindness to friends, her ability to sweep a kitchen floor like no other 10-year old I’ve ever met…Are they not worthy of celebrating because she isn’t the skilled artist she yearns to be, or she wishes for curls in her hair?

Is beauty irrelevant once flaws are uncovered?

Do you strive for perfection?

Do you like things perfect?

I don’t know that I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I would answer that question…but I probably spend too much time trying to make things “perfect. “ Perhaps my lens on the world, like my declining eyesight, has clouded over the years.

Maybe it is well-intentioned, yet misguided parenting, or perhaps it is a reflection of my own shortcomings.

Perfection is a funny thing. We strive for perfection, but when asked what qualities we think are important in ourselves and others, perfection isn’t on the list.

It is almost the contrary.

Perfection is a double-edged sword. We strive for it for ourselves, yet we distain it in others. We certainly don’t look for perfect friends. I contend we are drawn to people who seem “flawed”.

Why?

Do they make us feel better because our own shortcomings pale in comparison? Do they make us feel more accepted, less judged? Are they more relaxed, giving us the permission to show our true selves and admit we too are flawed? Or perhaps these friends have learned to appreciate the glow of their own light, rendering flaws unimportant and inconsequential?

These are all questions that will take some time to answer honestly.

For now, I have a big glass jar of our shells on my desk, ALL of them-hers and mine. It is a daily reminder from a young daughter to her mother.

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It is a reminder to look for beauty in all things, and to practice acceptance of self and others, and to be content with and celebrate a less-than-perfect, yet wonderfully flawed life.

 

Teri

UPDATE

The Broken Seashell, now in print! Thank you Northside Women magazine for this beautiful spread.

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Grandparents Day Interview with Life Lessons Radio

Had a good time today talking about Grandparent’s Day with Rick from Life Lessons radio.

We talked about how the day got its start and ways you can celebrate with your family- have a listen!

Celebrate Grandparents Day with Teri Harrison 09/05 by Lessons Learned | Life Podcasts.

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A sweet memory from my days as a much-loved grandchild. What’s your memory?
Join us The Grandparent Gift Co. on facebook for more trips down memory lane.

Life Lessons Radio: Our Beginnings!

I am often asked how I stared my business.

Where did the idea come from?

How did you know what to do to get started?

How do you continue to know what to do?

The honest answer is “I don’t know!” I do know where the idea came from. A moment 24 years ago, when my Mom was swooning over her first grandchild, and I told her she should open a store and call it “Grandma’s House” and have it filled with wonderful grandma things.

But the rest, it is one step at a time and it has been a lot of steps… 18 years worth of steps and missteps. All marching to the same goal, filling a “store” with wonderful things, not always for grandma, but certainly things a grandmother would love for her family.

I have found over the years, the path becomes less overgrown and clear when following a calling or a passion, it ignites energy, becomes contagious and makes you purposeful. When you lose the passion, you lose your direction and momentum. You look to others to get you back on track. But sometimes like a well-intentioned GPS, you still veer off course!

If you have, or thinking of starting your own business. Take your passion and move it forward a little each day..one step at a time.

I recently had the chance to talk about how I started my business and some of the ideas and inspirations that have given us some staying power. I was interviewed by Rick with Gracefully Yours who has a radio show called Life Lessons Radio.

It was a great conversation and it gave me a chance to reflect on the path I have taken and how many changes have happened over the course of nearly 20 years in business.

You can hear the interview at:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lifelessonsnetwork/2013/03/11/teri-harrison-of-grandparent-gift-company-shares-her-lessons

Signing off-

Teri