Tote Your Stuff

Our Story: Arlene Gresham & Diane Andrews

A Creative Mother and Daughter Partnership

Diane Andrews (left) & Arlene Gresham
We're more creative together!

     In 2005--going on two decades and hundreds of handmade tote bags and purses ago--my mom and I did something that surprised even us. We became business partners.

     We started buying fabrics and designing and sewing simple, lightweight tote bags. We gave them as gifts to family and friends. Again and again.

     When the fabrics started piling up and it dawned on us how much money we were spending, we started selling our tote bags.

     People heard of us by word of mouth. They discovered us at craft shows.

     As customers asked for more sophisticated bags, we added new styles and fabrics and features--pockets, closures, beads, fluff, interfacing.

     Whatever purse or tote bag a customer asked us to create, we met the challenge.

     My mom--Arlene Gresham--and I always got excited about sewing and fabrics. When we got a new fabric, we were eager to transform it into something beautiful and useful.

     Over time, we added a sideline of aprons, decorative pillows, pillow cases, face masks and more to our repertoire.

     "When I go to bed, I can hardly wait to get up and start sewing again," said Arlene, who passed away in 2022.

     My mom taught me to be a perfectionist in sewing. If something is not just right, I rip it out and start over.

     We used to stay up late sewing together. My mom would cut out, and I would sew by the lamp light because my eyes are better.

     We had fun together and sparked creativity. We came to know and respect each other in new ways.

     My mom designed and sewed in Michigan. I sew in California and summers in Michigan.

     Our bags? They are toting stuff all over the world.

     Where next will one of our bags go, I wonder? Who will be our next customer?

     How about you?

Arlene (left) & Diane feeling flirty in ruffles
Kitchen Staples: Cheerful, Flirty Aprons

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Diane (L) & Arlene looking festive in red & green
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If you think your burden's heavy and good fortune seems remote,
Just remember to be grateful that you have some stuff to tote.
Jack Hasling, 2006;