When she found herself sitting in a hospital supporting her loved ones through chemotherapy treatment, Gibsonville resident and small business owner Tina Mardis said she needed something to keep her mind and hands busy. A lifelong crafter, Mardis decided not to turn to books or games, but to her love of crafting, to help her through the dark moments.
“I love to read, but I couldn’t focus on the storyline because I needed to focus on what was going on around. So, I started working with many hands, and I like to think that even though it was during an ugly period of time, something beautiful came from it,” Mardis said.
Mardis said the few items needed to make one scarf — just a loom, a crochet hook and yarn — made it the easiest craft to take with her. The nurses at her husband’s treatments began to take notice of Mardis’ crafting, and before long, she began knitting scarves for them.
“I needed something that was going to be familiar, repetitive and something that I could see making good progress, because nothing else was making good progress during that period of time,” Mardis said. “It's kind of like a piece of pottery going through the fire. It's really ugly when it goes in. But then you go through that heat, and it makes you stronger and you come out better on the other end.”
For Mardis, crafting is more than a pastime or hobby. It kept her going through a dark time in her life, a part of her story she said she is happy to share with others.
Now, in 2022, Mardis is celebrating a different part of her story: the one-year anniversary of her shop, A Quiet Life Handmades, being in business.
Mardis said crafting has always been in her life — from sewing, cross-stitching and making Christmas ornaments in 4-H to knitting when her mother and her husband were in the hospital for chemo treatments. She has taken her work with her through good times and bad, selling items at craft shows and now in her downtown Gibsonville storefront.
“There have been some slow times, and there have been wonderful, profitable times,” Mardis said. “I’ve been working within crafts, making crafts for years, and it just kind of developed itself.”
A Quiet Life Handmade, located at 114 W. Main Street in Gibsonville, was “a leap of faith,” but one she is looking forward to celebrating on Sept. 15, one year since she first opened her doors to the community.
“People need to know that there are faces behind everything they purchase when they purchase from a small business,” Mardis said.
Mardis is one of several vendors available in her shop. Her specialities are scarves and jewelry — both knitted and one of a kind wire creations — though she is familiar with many types of crafting. There are handmade signs, dog bandanas, plastic bag holders, scrunchies and clothing available for purchase at A Quiet Life Handmade.
“I try to have a space that’s something different,” Mardis said. “The one thing I did not want for my shop is to be cookie cutter and look like everybody else’s.”
Mardis started sewing in grade school. Learning from her mom and practicing in her local 4-H youth group, she began to fall in love with crafting.
After retiring from teaching special education in McLeansville, NC, Mardis took on a job at Michaels, where she took classes on crafting styles she hadn’t previously tried. She took her crafts on the road, setting up and tearing down to go to multiple craft shows in one day.
While she said she loves the energy of craft shows, as she grew older, the work involved with traveling to craft shows began to take its toll. That’s ultimately why, when Mardis saw the for rent sign in the window of her now storefront, she knew she wanted to learn more about opening up a permanent shop.
“It’s fun, it’s therapy, and it grows over time,” Mardis said. “The more you do, the more ideas come to you. And I’m looking forward to another year.”
As she prepares to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the storefront opening and the start of fall — one of the busiest seasons for the shop — Mardis said she thought back to last year and the challenges she faced before opening.
Mardis said COVID-19 posed the biggest challenge to her. When she tested positive Sept. 1, 2021, she had to delay her opening for two weeks. But she said she feels lucky that supply chain issues and inflation have not impacted her as much as they have other small businesses.
“I would have had [problems] if I hadn’t hoarded craft supplies all my life!” Mardis said. “I’ve tried to be wise and be a good steward of my money, but I do shop clearance and thrift stores. Everything in here as far as displays go has either been gifted, thrifted or handmade.”
The one-year celebration on Sept. 15 will include sweet treats and “birthday” sales for customers throughout the day. To learn more about A Quiet Life Handmades, visit the shop’s Facebook or Instagram page.