A story about our embroidered Intuit Tee collaboration with Vancouver-based photographer Gillian Stevens.
Gillian's studio was located in the quiet suburb of the quaint city White Rock. Surrounded by nature parks and neat stretches of crop fields, I felt as though my mere half hour drive has led me to a vacation sanctuary. I pushed through the gates and followed a stone path down to the back of her home, where her work studio was located. For a moment, I was almost alone, accompanied just by the whispering breeze and a few notes from shy song birds.
Just as I wondered if I should try knocking at the back door, a small boy ran out. His golden hair shone in the sunlight, and a glint of laughter spread across his keen blue eyes and rosy cheeks.
"Slow down, Henry—"
Gillian emerged with a welcoming wave. It was great for me to see this friend again, and we immediately exchanged hugs.
Most of our design community know of Gillian Stevens. She is a renowned photographer, an entrepreneur, a teacher of lifestyle workshops and a mother. Her artistic talent is evident in the distinct, authentic style only found in her work.
Catching Henry with one arm, she led the two of us into the studio. The space itself was furnished by Gillian and her husband, designed with utmost care. It looked as if it had leapt from pages of a premium magazine. Yet, just like all of Gillian's work, nothing felt forceful or too deliberate. From the antique brass taps to the minimal ceramics to the beautiful French windows, every bit of the studio flowed together in unison.
To celebrate Mother's Day, I asked Gillian to handwrite a message regarding her thoughts on womanhood. She wrote the line "grace upon grace", which we turned into an embroidery design.
"The craftsmanship of this t-shirt!" She exclaimed as she picked up the Intuit Tee. Her handwritten words were embroidered across its chest.
"When I think of Vestige, I immediately think of the close attention to detail found in every aspect of the brand and its designs."
"This embroidered tee is a true example. Your clothing is never too conventional, but still very wearable," she kindly stated.
Gillian believes that grace is essential to living, especially in our society's unkind habit of social comparisons. Expectations are often blown out of proportion, and women can be incredibly hard on themselves — a factor that has only amplified in Gillian's own life since becoming a mother. From day one, she felt the self-imposed weight of what she thought motherhood should be. It created an immense, crushing pressure.
"The phrase "grace upon grace" is from one of my favourite bible verses (John 1:16)," Gillian explained.
"Grace is everything to me, because it means that I need not live up to my idea of what being a 'good mom' looks like."
She turned to our embroidered words. "Instead, I can rest and trust in the one who is always good, and who has new mercies for me every morning. And living in light of this, I am free to extend it to the people around me."
Gillian propped Henry onto the kitchen counter while she prepared his afternoon snack. He nibbled on a piece of apple as he waited, knowing that a most delicious meal will be lovingly served by his mama in reward for his quiet patience.
"It's hard to summarize how I feel about motherhood, because it means so many things. Raising children is such a gift. You learn so much about yourself, and understand very quickly what is truly important," Gillian smiled as she wiped apple chunks from Henry's cheeks.
As an artist who is keen on giving back, Gillian deems it important to think of others before herself. "It is something you learn to do when you get married, and then is somewhat forced to do when you become a parent! But it's such an crucial mindset, and it's something I strive to improve on everyday."
When Henry finished his snack, he slid off the chair and beckoned us to join him in his exploration of the studio. Together, we discovered the excitement of running taps in the washroom, the exhilarating exercise of swinging open windows and the intrigue of boy-sized baskets.
It was evident that Henry had a certain gift with people. Our entire adventure was fuss-free, and he lit up as we explored every nook in the studio.
Gillian noted, "I love bringing Henry to new places, and seeing him discover things for the first time. It's incredible to be able to see the world with newfound wonder again!"
We then all sat down for reading time. As Gillian read to us, the little one grew quiet. He became absorbed in the story and helped flip the page as mama ran her fingers across the end of the sentences. Interestingly, his prior energy of the adventurer had settled into that of a serious reader.
Our pleasant afternoon eventually came to an end. After heartfelt goodbyes were exchanged, I drove away from Gillian's thoughtful home. It was back to the bustle and hustle of my daily toil — but this time filled with inspiration and new perspectives.