Thirty-six year old Tara Morrison makes a living doing what she loves best: sewing, knitting, crocheting and making clothes. But this hadn't always been the case; prior to 2001 Tara had worked for others, and had no time for her own creative projects. Then in 2001 at the age of twenty-nine, Tara developed a severe case of the sniffles that eventually led to brain surgery. The surgery caused her to have a massive seizure seven days later that nearly turned her into a vegetable.
Fiercely independent and self supporting since age thirteen, Tara often worked up to three jobs at a time, but since the surgery she has had to learn how to depend on others for many things. Some weeks she will only get two good days out of seven, accomplishing in a week what others could do in a day. But Tara is determined to make a difference, to contribute to the household income, and to society.
Tara has been creative since childhood: sculpting, potting, batik-ing, and then sewing out of necessity after reaching the height of six foot one as a teenager; it was either sew her own clothes or wear men's jeans to school. She gave away most of her sewing creations to friends and family, even going so far as to make a wedding dress free of charge for a friend in need.
Tara was employed for a year after her surgery but this soon became impossible. For the first seven years after her surgery feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and depression overwhelmed her; she felt she had nothing to give, she couldn’t work and she couldn’t have kids. Over the last couple of years, with the support of her parents and her boyfriend she turned her sewing hobby into a business and Stonehenge Designs was born. “Different people adapt in different ways," she explains to me. She chose the name Stonehenge for her business because it fits her design aesthetic; she likes earthy colors, wiccan patterns, fantasy elements and natural materials such as hemp, stone beads and bamboo. Tara works in many mediums from soft goods, created using industrial machines to her favorite kind of work; intricate, detailed, costume designs.
Because of her surgery Tara had to re-learn all her old skills. Her first wedding dress commission was a nightmare; she had to rip up seams over and over again because she couldn’t remember how things worked, like how to put in a zipper. Learning to do something the second time around is a lot faster, she tells me. Sometimes sewers get lazy when they repeat themselves, so this time around Tara (no longer a sewer’s snob,) taught herself to sew the old fashioned way, and has managed to improve upon her garment, fabric and pattern construction skills in the process.
Tara joined Etsy, an artist's and crafter's online community in March of 2008 and spent three months learning how to be an online seller; a huge learning curve made more difficult by short term memory loss, dyslexia and difficulty with words; articulating them, losing them, and superimposing them. Etsy gave Tara the opportunity to do what she likes best and share it with others without requiring a huge commitment such as owning a brick and mortar store. Now Tara feels nothing but joy when she looks at her online Etsy store knowing she did it herself. She is so busy making custom clothes and filling orders that's she hasn't had time to list all the new fun work she has been creating for Etsy.
It is ironic that undergoing brain surgery and a massive seizure gave Tara Morrison the opportunity to discover that she truly can make a contribution to society. Tara volunteers at the acute brain surgery recovery center, is saving up to pay for a vacation for herself and her fiancé, has more work than she knows what to do with, and is planning to get off disability so that she no longer has to rely upon the Canadian government to pay her way. So it comes as no surprise that the nurses at the hospital voted Tara "Positive Spokesperson for Brain Surgery." Tara is determined to be financially independent once again, but this time she will be doing it her way, creating work she loves, and making a difference every day.
You can find Tara Morrison online at http://stonehengeclothing.etsy.com
This interview was originally published on my Maude Blog on October 8, 2008