Birthday's always make us nostalgic, and this one is no different. Lauren's birthday has rolled around again, and we thought we'd take this chance to share some of our favorite memories from Eccentrics Story.

“My fashion journey started at SIU-C where I was majoring in fashion merchandising. I started a small business where I designed, manufactured and sold hobo bags while attending the university. I worked in retail and loved designing crazy fashion pieces. I would frequently be found in second-hand stores picking up men’s ties and would repurpose them as belts and headbands. School was never my forte, but fashion was an artistic expression that I could not get enough of. So needless to say, my parents were thrilled when I graduated from college!"

"After much thought and planning, I decided to start a small shop in my husband’s hometown of Carterville, Illinois. My father-in-law owned a fine jewelry store, Your Jeweler. The store had a small 300 square foot loft space above the jewelry store area. So I decided to follow in the footsteps of the spa and offer jewelry, handbags and gift items. My little shop was a fun way to interact with hometown customers and offer a little bling to women."

"My shop was growing and busy with customers. I spent my days working at the shop. And then, I ordered my products and spent countless hours each evening marking the products and getting them ready to go back to the shop. Even though I was tired, I loved my little shop! Soon, I was pregnant with our little guy, Ledger. Adding a baby to the mix, only increased the long hours, but it was all worth it! God had given me a path to start the business and blessed Aaron and I with a beautiful little boy!"
"I loved fashion accessories and all of my customers at the shop! But customers were continually asking when I was going to carry clothing. I decided to start with one rack of clothing! And it was a hit! This was during the era of chevron (remember the days of chevron and baubble necklaces?!?) Without any extra space and no dressing room, customers were trying on the trendy pieces in the closet of the loft shop! I decided that if I were going to continue with clothing, I had to find a larger space! In a town of 5500, I didn’t have to search very far. I found a spot across the street. I was excited to have a dressing room for my customers!"

"The Plaza Drive location was for sale and there was uncertainty with the future of the building. It was at this time, that a 3000 square foot location next to Your Jeweler became available. A major remodel was in order, but I decided to accept the challenge. What a great space with 22 foot ceilings and a loft area that would be a work area for staff. A new website, more clothing, adding shoes, and new brands were all in order. What a blessing to have this beautiful space and awesome parking too!"

"I was thrilled to have a larger store and needed some extra help and decided it was time to hire some employees. It was amazing how God always brought just the right people at the right time. I still see His hand in my employees even today. I am thankful what each person brought to the business and hope the skills they learned helped them to move forward on their personal work journey as well. It was a time of growth and learning during the almost three years on Plaza Drive."

"Over the next few years, 2 more pregnancies and two beautiful little girls were added to the family. We have had a lot of ups and downs over the years, but God has continued to provide His miracles. Covid hit our business in 2020 and I was hit hard with long-haulers Covid. The physical store was closed, I was very sick for over 8 months and lost my grandmother to Covid. But I found that staff and customers were really family and stuck with me through it all! God continued to show His plan for a business that is more than a business but a ministry to share encouragement and love to all that enter the door. These life lessons helped me understand how to prioritize, cherish relationships, and let God take control. After all, we are all in this together!"

With another year coming to an end, and another birthday rolling around we are once again thankful for all the blessings that have come!
December 18, 2023 — Ben Childers

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