Velvet & Vine was born from a perfect storm of complete exhaustion, a popped tire, and a crushing sense of unhappiness. I felt wildly out of place at my job and, because of this, my anxiety was through the roof at all times. I was in my late twenties, in a new city, working hours that were incompatible with making and/or keeping friends, and I began to feel suffocated. I was shattered at the end of every day and could not continue to rebuild myself each and every night.
A big part of the issue was that I had my dream job prior to moving and I missed it terribly. But, it was a chapter that had to end and, unfortunately, I was having trouble finding anything remotely like it in my new city.
One day, while driving on the "roads" in Buckhead (I use the term "roads" loosely because the amount of potholes in Buckhead is alarming), one of my tires popped. My tire wasn't old; I had all four replaced less than a year before this incident because this was the second time I'd gotten a flat in Buckhead...and those are the only two flats I've ever had! And I actively avoid the potholes! (OK, I realize I'm sort of spiraling here. Back to the story.)
As I sat there crying on the side of the road in my car, I was wondering why I had always allowed my dad to do everything for me like the spoiled princess I am. I mean, you would think I had to have known there would be a day when I would have to do something other than pump my own gas, right?
My husband couldn't help me and I didn't know anyone else in the city who could, either, and my pride wasn't about to let me flag down a stranger for help. (I would've walked the rest of the way before I did that, to be honest.) I couldn't afford a tow and I didn't know at the time that my insurance coverage included roadside assistance- I just knew I didn't have AAA.
A few more tear-filled minutes passed and, out of absolutely nowhere, I had this remarkable idea- one that had truly never occurred to me before:
"Mary Kathleen... why don't you just do it yourself?"
I didn't know how to change a tire! Hell, I didn't even know if I had a spare tire! But, I had to get to work and I didn't have any other option.
So, I did what any decent Millennial would do. I pulled up YouTube and searched for a how-to video.
"How to change a tire on a Ford Edge"
I watched it. And, with only minor difficulty (and major cursing), I changed my own damn tire.
And then something else changed- something in me. I started doubting my self-doubt. Instead of accepting my current unhappy situation, I decided it was time to find another job- one that would allow me to get back into the fashion industry. And when I couldn't find anything that felt right while looking for another job, I decided I should create one.
I'm writing this in September 2019, a little more than a year since the conception of Velvet & Vine. Since then, I've found a new day job that, while it isn't my passion, it is an incredible work environment. I have a supportive boss, amazing coworkers, and leave each day feeling like I did something meaningful. I've made friends in Atlanta and have found a small sense of community here- a feeling that grows each day.
As Disney as this is going to sound, I changed my life when I changed that tire, and I hope these clothes make you feel as good about yourself as I did that day.
Mary Kathleen Toner,
Founder of Velvet & Vine Boutique
ps - ALWAYS pay for the warranty on tires! When I got my car back to Goodyear, I can tell you I cried tears of joy when the mechanic mentioned it would be replaced at no cost to me. I simply paid the optional $20 warranty on my new tire and walked over to the Chick-fil-A next door to treat myself.