“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads”
In life we each are called to a specific, unique path. Mary Catherine has not chosen the easy routes by far, but ones she can look back on and say were “defined by me” while “living life to the fullest”. Her story is one of empowerment, determination, and inner beauty despite life’s constant struggles.
Chocolate or vanilla? ——–> Swirled
Blue or green? ———> Aqua
Hot or cold? ——–> Comfy
Mary Catherine would agree that with most things in life, they are best if enjoyed in equal ratios. However, when it comes to her choices and the paths she takes, the middle ground is most definitely second place to BOLDNESS.
“In the wake of every heartache, in the depth of every fear, there were diamonds, diamonds, waiting to break out of here.” – JohnnySwim
From an outsiders perspective, this successful, creative, artsy business owner would not be seen as someone who was ‘broken’. Beautiful? Of course! How then can the two be synonymous? Like any good story, it is best if we start at the very beginning.
Mary Catherine was born and raised here in the capital city. From birth, this girl has had a knack for all things creative (although she will deny this). Her actualization of these artistic gifts and talents came about later in life, however, around the time we all make those pivotal life choices: high school. Whether it was the art classes or the design projects at home, Mary Catherine quickly realized her passion for creating beautiful spaces and unique pieces of art. So when time came to start figuring out the answer to, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, Mary Catherine decided to fuse her gifts and passions to pursue interior design at Winthrop University (conveniently, for me, the only accredited interior design program in the state).
College quickly became Mary Catherine’s time of awakening. The little seeds of creativity began to grow and bloom tremendously throughout her four years at Winthrop. She clearly had found her niche. As her roommate, I was constantly amazed by her boundless creativity, dedication & time spent in the studio, and ability to consistently develop concepts and pieces of work that were set apart from others (especially when my creative well always seemed dry). It was truly an honor to watch as the exterior paint (self-doubt, apathy, people pleasing) was chipped away, revealing shades of boldness, confidence, and beauty underneath.
Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. –William Barclay
As the college career came to a close, life once again presented the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Degree in hand, Mary Catherine was given several paths that she could take. Admittedly, the external voices and opinions concerning what to do next where hard to drown out. Asking for details of what she would do, where she would go, what steps she would take next became exhausting. Despite feeling pressured, and previous tendencies of people pleasing creeping in, Mary Catherine decided to trust her instincts and act on her convictions.
Moving back home to Columbia, Mary Catherine went to work partnering with two local, small businesses where she continued to utilize her creativity. Whether through providing design advice or transforming shabby chic furniture, her artistic strengths were put to use. About six months after graduation, a woman came into one of the shops talking about purse designs. Sparking curiosity and inspiration, Mary Catherine decided to try out some patterns for herself. Now, fast forward a little over a year and not only has she succeed at this initial hobby of sorts, but she has developed an entire business on the concept of designing one of a kind hand bags. But the story doesn’t end here.
Like all good plots, there is a pivotal point where the hero/heroine must decide to push past the fears, foreseen dangers, and threat of failure towards the final destination…….or simply turn back. In Mary Catherine’s story, this climatic moment came during the winter of 2013. All of her bold choices and trailblazing steps brought her to a final fork in the road that boiled down to one, BIG decision: join forces with the corporate world and get a “big girl job” or commit to making Uniquely MC more than just a hobby. On the one hand, a life in the interior design industry would provide stability, consistency, relief from financial strains, and be the obvious choice if she wanted to pursue the ‘American Dream’. The other option, further developing her business, would provide an outlet for creativity and chance to pursue her dreams, but wasn’t guaranteed to pay the bills. Clearly, from a logical point of view, the best answer is obvious…..but don’t forget this girl is BOLD.
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
As you can probably guess, Mary Catherine chose option two. Although timid at first, and despite all the risks and unknowns, there is no doubt that this was the path in life meant for her. Going from working three jobs to now working one part time job and devoting the remainder of time to her business, moving production from the corner of her room to now her own studio at Tapps, having her purses in three local businesses, online, at her studio, and at local shows, showcased on local television and online media, the list of confirmations goes on and on. Just ONE step in a different direction, or if she had chosen to turn back, and her story would have a completely different ending. Although not finished, her tale of found confidence and inner strength is truly inspiring. Following her dreams did not bring Mary Catherine to an easy road nor one of simplicity. Nevertheless, her choices radiate depth of character, conviction, and empower others to take on this world with BOLDNESS. A tale that many (myself included) would like to read time and time again!
Like a gemstone that must be cut, fractured, and filled to become a precious jewel, so is the unique story of the beauty found through Mary Catherine’s brokenness. Allowing her exterior of past insecurities, fear of failure, and apathy to be worn and chipped away removed hinderances unknown even to her. By permitting herself to be a part of the refining process, over time, let shine the many facets of hidden talents within. Now filled with confidence and boldness, her true self is able to shine through. A true example of how brokenness does not simply mean despair, but rather refines us to become something beautiful and bright for all to see.