Skip ahead to my post-college years (because, Lord knows, besides being the Fashion Editor for V Magazine for a while, my personal style wasn't much back then) and you will find a Linnea who began to understand 'style personality' and embraced a confident expression of self through fashion. My fashion journey runs alongside my heart journey, and how the Lord has restored me from the inside-out. I firmly believe style is an expression of your heart, and how you carry yourself, speak about yourself, and treat yourself is innate to your spiritual health.
In the past few years, I started to explore and refine my inner stylist through blogging, first with a Dressing Up series on Cville Niche and then to Darling two years ago when I became the co-owner. And I grew to love styling outfits, not just for me, but for other gals (and guys) as well. I remember making the decision to buy the shop with Megan, terrified and excited at the same time, and one bit of advise my dad had for me as I prayed and moved forward in this life-changing step of faith:
"How does your heart feel?" - Dad
"My heart is filled with peace - peace that I can't comprehend. Peace that I know this is what I'm supposed to do. It's my head that's spinning thinking about it all." - Me
"Good. I would be worried if it was the other way around. That peace in your heart is from the Lord, and when you're making a decision, listen for that peace. He'll quiet the noise in your head, He'll take care of all those details." - Dad
Listen for the peace. That's what I did. And that's what I remind myself of again and again in this shop owner life - especially when making decisions. And I remember...
I remember the words of affirmation, the prophetic words of this calling on my life, the words of wisdom and advise. I remember the excitement, the adventure, the childlike joy, the hope. I remember the fear, the doubts, the unknowns, the mistakes, the anxiety. But most of all, I remember why I started, why I bought the store two years ago with Megan, why I bought the store from Megan to become the sole owner last August, why I am doing what I am doing: Because it is what God created me to do. Because it is my calling. Because I am here to steward this little shop, to love on women of all ages, to shine a Light, to spread kindness, to create beauty, to style sweet outfits, to build community, to encourage and inspire true beauty, strength, and dignity through fashion.
This two year anniversary is bittersweet, knowing I'm celebrating it as the sole owner this year, but also knowing I'm partnering with the God Almighty, who has brought me to this very place, this very moment.
Most importantly, on this anniversary, I want to emphasize how THANKFUL I am for everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. I owe infinite thanks to my parents (Hi, Mom and Dad!), who endlessly pray, encourage, advise, and give from after (VA Beach ain't that far). That goes to all my family - thank you. My mom has even played shop girl with me several times this past year as I transitioned into sole ownership. I also owe many thanks to my boyfriend for being a constant sounding board for my many venting sessions, cranky attitude and many mood swings, and putting food on the table when I work ridiculously long days (every day). And, of course, to the gal who walked into this adventure with me two years ago, Megan Tiernan, for her grace and drive to see the shop succeed, thank you. (Megan is now killing it in nursing school full time since last August, y'all!)
To all the dear friends, Darling customers and consignors, and complete strangers who have encouraged me these past two years - THANK YOU. I am reminded daily of this gift - the gift of running of shop. It's not a vocation I take lightly, and it is certainly something I am deeply humbled to call myself - Shop Owner.
And I certainly can't forget to shout out the amazingly talented photographer behind the images you see on the blog and social media these days, Mr. Tristan Williams. I love working with you! #blessed
All I can say about 2017 so far is this: Stay Anchored.
This year so far has been trying, challenging, and foundational. From sewage explosions and Winter sale woes to sickness (stupid Noro virus) and anxiety, being the sole owner of a small business can be incredibly isolating and indescribably exhausting. What keeps me going? What gives me hope and energy each day? What anchors me in the storms?
Christ. When the words inside my head and the words of the world spin around me, I read His Word. When my heart cries out in frustration, anger, sadness, I praise Him. When my weary spirit is depleted and I'm riddled with anxiety, I rest in Him.
Stay anchored in Hope. Stay anchored in Community. Stay anchored in Love. Stay anchored in Truth. Feel the weight. Dive deeper. Though waves crash overhead, and the stormy winds rage, in the depths you will find true Rest, Safety, Love. Courage is founded in the depths, and tested in the waves.
And remember. Remember the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. Remember it all. Cherish it all. It's all a part of the journey, and He takes brokenness aside and turns it into something beautiful.
So, here's to two years, and many more! Whatever comes, whatever is next this year and onward, I give thanks for this shop, for this blog, for this journey.