But not long ago, I got an adorable email from a woman named Hallie that started this way:
That is officially the first time I've used four years of French in high school... :)
My name is Hallie Schumaker and I work for a company, Messages in Metal.”
She then proceeded to tell me a little bit about her Company and what they do, and I was interested enough to respond.
Messages in Metal is a recently-launched, family-owned business located in the beautiful State of Montana. Everything the Schumakers produce is designed and made by hand in their workshops. When’s the last time you bought something that wasn’t stamped out by a machine and mass produced?
As Hallie puts it, “The process has been a labor of love and we have put two years of work into the designs, the proper training on a state-of-the-art engraver, packaging materials, etc.”
While fast food and mass-produced American jeans are ubiquitous in France these days, the French still revere the artisanal arts from the talented tatter who adds the finishing flourish to an haute couture piece to the craftsman (or craftswoman) who trains for a minimum of five years before being allowed to create his (or her) first Birkin or Kelly Bag for Hermès, and my French heart always skips a beat at the sight of a hand-made objet d’art.
Hallie offered to send me any product of my choice for my review. How could I possibly refuse an offer like that? So, I agreed and checked out their website.
|The Schumaker Family|
Along the way, through delightful emails back and forth and Hallie’s Blog posts, I learned a lot about this close-knit family -- how they relate to one another and their commitment to excellence in everything they do, especially the products they produce.
|Hallie and her Daughter|
And so, I made my selection. I chose a dragon fly necklace in gold, which would contain a tiny amethyst, my birthstone, and my name etched in the tail. Now, you may be thinking, that would have to be a looooooong tail to contain my entire, hyphenated first name. What to do?
Suddenly, I had an idea. My golden dragonfly would be etched with my childhood nickname, which no one had used since Mme Mère passed away five years ago.
I gave it to myself when I was about two or three years old, because I was unable to pronounce my whole first name (It’s a mouthful for a child!). So, when people would ask me “Comment t-appelles-tu, ma petite?” I started responding, “Je m’apelle Ti-Ti.” My parents never knew where I got it, but it stuck. My brother Paul never called me anything else; in fact, he shortened it to Ti. The last person to call me Ti-Ti was Mme Mère. My brother died at a very young age and my father is long gone. So, I thought it would be most fitting to have my childhood nickname on my necklace as a beautiful souvenir of a happy time. I’m sure they would approve.
Hallie was touched. “Oh your story gave me goosebumps and I agree with you - what a beautiful way to pay tribute to people so close to your heart and the memories you share.”
Speaking of names and nicknames, Hallie had her own charming story to tell. I’ll let her tell it:
“I asked my mom why the name Hallie and she told me that they had friends that took in foster children. And one of the little girls that they fostered, her name was Hallie and that my mom loved the name from day one. Wish they would’ve fostered a little girl name Natalie, Grace or Emma but Hallie stuck with her and with me.
|Fifi the French Dog|
I took four years of French. And I believe our French teacher’s name was Mrs. Johnson but I may be wrong. Regardless, in French class our freshmen year we had to choose a French name and that name was what we would go by, answer to, etc. whenever we were in class. By the time it was my time to choose all the good French girl names that I wanted had been selected. I was left with names like Heloise, Olga, etc. to choose from. Nice enough names sure but zero cool factor. I decided to go outside the box. When I was asked what my French name for the year would be I promptly answered with much fanfare, “Je m’appelle FiFi!” And FiFi it was for the next four years.”
Fifi, je vous présente Ti-Ti!
About a week later my beautiful Golden Dragonfly arrived.
And I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s a beautiful, delicate piece on a 20” gold chain with a 3” extension, as needed, making it the perfect length for any neckline.
What else can I say? The holidays are coming. Do yourself a favor and stop by Messages in Metal. Isn’t there someone in your life who would love something special with a message from you etched with love?