The Growing Years:
I conceived Siera + Celeste in honor of my grandmothers, two strong, independent women who worked retail back in their day. One worked in a handbag department and the other in inventory control. Both women impacted my life deeply. They always had a smile on their faces and the ability to make a person feel as if he or she was the most important person in the room.
My grandmothers had a big hand in raising me. I was the first grandchild on both sides of the families. I was the first girl on my father’s side of the family (he had four brothers), so when I came along, everyone was especially excited. Being raised by a family that was used to having boys around didn’t do much to turn me into a girly-girl. I just chased after my uncles and cousins with my frilly dresses and lacy socks on.
It is an honor being the first true city kid in our family. I was born in a hospital and not at home like my parents were. They were born and raised in the country before coming to the city about the time of junior high school. But I was a city kid through and through. I was accustomed to convenience stores on almost every corner where I grew up.
My grandparents were farmers before moving to the city, but they kept their roots in the country. They taught me to play rough, get dirty and to fend for myself. Through them, I learned my work ethic.
My grandmothers doted on me. I knew it and tried not to take advantage. I loved to watch them apply their makeup and I itched to try on their stockings (you know, the ones with the perfect line up the back). They taught me the value of a dollar and the importance of acting like a lady. When I was a young teenage girl, they even sent me to charm school to learn to be a lady because they had a dream of me being a model. Quite frankly, that did not go over very well since I was surrounded by boys and had the rough-house gene in me.
My paternal grandmother taught me about buying high-quality goods, and she always had the best of everything. I learned that if you spend a little extra money on something, you don’t have to replace it as often. To this day, I still tell my husband, ‘Buy the best you can afford, and you only cry once,’ which I learned from her. She was not ostentatious; she was a very refined lady. Her home was filled with English antiques, and I cherish the smell of beeswax polish.
And though she worked in inventory control, when it came to purses, my maternal grandmother had at least 60 handbags when she passed. And, every single one of them had a bit of ’emergency’ money tucked away in a pocket. She had the most giving heart, and everyone in her family was the recipient of some gift from the ’emergency’ handbag fund.
Both of these marvelous women passed on May 5. Not in the same year, mind you, three years apart. One was in her eighties; the other was in her nineties. I continue to miss them deeply.
Why Siera & Celeste?
The company name is modern variations of ancient names. Siera for the sun and Celeste for heavenly bodies (moon). Their names were not Siera & Celeste but my grandmothers knew one another very well and were similar in their strengths. They were as opposite as day and night, and I felt the name was a perfect blend to honor them.
Siera & Celeste is about getting back to being earth-wise and taking care of ourselves and our environment. It’s about caring for the creatures Mother Nature births, blesses us with, and gifts us to care for during their lifetimes. And it’s about giving back to others – all the things my grandmothers taught me.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without my grandmothers, which is why I dedicate Siera & Celeste to them. Watch on, ladies. Let the fun continue…