I hope your Monday has been the best start to your week.  I’m finally sitting down for the day to relax, let my fingers do the talking and tell you about my friend and maker Chris Creasy.  

I remember the first time I met Chris.   She was one of my earliest customers in those beginning months.   She came wandering in on a Saturday morning after getting off work from overtime at  her “day job” with State Farm.   She was so kind and seemed to love the vintage + modern + repurposed mix I was trying to pull together at Plume.  I appreciated her encouragement so much;  I needed all of that I could get.

She came back a few more times and we talked about her creative loves and hobbies and she told me about these “coasters” she was making and selling at the annual christmas bazaar at her church, First Christian in downtown Columbia.  Little did I know these “coasters” would become one of the most notorious things in Plume to this day.  I’ll tell you more about those in a minute.

Chris was in a different stage of life than the other stay-at-home momma’s I’d been working with at Plume up to that point.   While in her early years of motherhood she was able to stay home part-time with her babies Jack & Laurel, by the time we met she had been working at State Farm as an auto underwriter for almost 30 years, and was about to become an empty nester.   When she’s not working at State Farm she shares life with her hubby Jay, of 32 years (Aren’t they cute?)  You’ll hear more about him in a bit too!

combination of photos that were taken more than 25 years ago and some more recent, Chris has built a unique side business she calls “The 1818 Project”, which is a photographic documentary of sorts.

The name comes from the year Columbia was founded by a group of settlers who purchased 2,000 acres of land to establish Smithton Land Company, re-named Columbia 3 years later.   Born and raised in Columbia, Chris launched The 1818 Project as an avenue to share her passion for Columbia and Mizzou.   Her photographs are unique enough on their own, and we do sell her prints at Plume.  However, it’s what else she does with them that truly launched her business.  She makes tile coasters.   And that’s how she became vendor #065.

As a “self-appointed” historian, Chris found inspiration in Columbia as a teenager and began photographing the city and many of it’s landmark businesses, having a special fondness for neon signs.  When she first came on board we sold her coasters in bundled sets of 4.  Her original series was Lambs Jewelry, The Arrowhead Motel, Dryers Shoes & Glenn’s Cafe.

We have since retired that original series and have launched 2 subsequent series of Columbia favorites as well as a special series with some well-known Mizzou landmarks.  In her more recent coaster series you will find pictures of some businesses that are no longer around like Zesto  & Sky-Hi Drive In and the original Shakespeare’s Pizza on 9th Street before it was torn down and rebuilt.  As well as other local favorites like Ernie’s Cafe,  Booches, The Broadway Diner & Harpo’s.

Since she’s been a part of Plume  I’ve watched her graduate a son from high-school and send him off to College; renovate a lake home, become a first time Grandma to sweet Hattie (pictured above); say goodbye to her father and now await the arrival of grand baby #2.   Through all this she joyfully works side by side with Jay (you met him first in the picture above.  Yes, the couple that makes coasters together stays together!)

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As the demand for her coasters has grown, Jay has stepped in to help Chris in this little side business.  His reward?  They’ve been saving every single penny they’ve earned from these coasters since she started selling them at Plume in a special account and will be using it to take a dream anniversary trip to Hawaii!    Knowing that I’ve had a small part in making that trip happen brings me immense joy.  Chris has been such a blessing to work with.  Not only is she a beautiful person and cheerleader to me, but I consider our partnership one of the better success stories I’ve had at Plume.

I can’t tell you the number of people who come in and see her coasters and stop and stare and talk about their memories of times spent at these places (Especially one particular group of ladies who had a lot to giggle about when they saw the Sky-Hi Drive In).   Because of Chris’s work I’ve even had the privilege of meeting the owners and family members of many of these businesses as word has spread and they’ve stopped by to purchase a few to give to family and friends.

Chris once shared with me that she hopes her ongoing work helps others re-live and experience their own memories of Columbia through her images.  I can tell you first hand,!   And I’m so thrilled every time I get to be a part of it.

Thank you Chris for being a part of Plume!

And as they say in Hawaii, Aloha!