When I launched my brand, Winton and Waits, three and a half years ago— I was in the middle of a very unexpected place.
I had launched brands before in the areas of product development, retail and event planning but this season of my life- my mid-forties- was not supposed to include a new start up company.
I received some advice from a branding coach that I should be clear about what I do in my brand name ... for example, “Jenna’s Jewelry."
I thought and thought about it —— but what I wanted to do next was so multi-faceted. Plus, my brain had experienced a bit of a “creative hiatus” due to some pretty significant and traumatic upheaval in my personal life.... so, I couldn’t even really process the fullness of what my brand would be.
What I did know: this new brand would have a deep connection to human stories and experiences. The kind where you get to see glimpses of beauty within brokenness. That’s what I needed, and I knew I likely wasn’t alone in that.
So what does Winton and Waits mean?
Here’s the short answer: (and the one you will most likely get if you ask me in the shop or a public place)
“The name of my store/brand is a combination of two street names in Fort Worth. Winton Terrace is where my life completely fell apart. And Waits Avenue is where I moved next and God started to reveal the new chapters of my story. He reminded me that my story wasn’t fully written or over.
Winton and Waits is my personal piece of a broken to beautiful story, and it’s the "why" behind what we do and how we do it. Life can still be beautiful even if it doesn’t turn out like we expected."
But here is the vulnerable piece of my story: Winton Terrace was a street I lived on with my husband (of 20 years) and two kids. It was across the street from one of my very best friends. Our kids had known each other since birth. This house was special. Spanish colonial, basically preserved for 100 years- with layers of backyard terraces and waterfalls that trailed down the property just steps from the Fort Worth zoo. I couldn’t believe I got to live here.
We quickly launched into a 2-year renovation of the property and lived in the basement while the house was being worked on.
We had done something similar (though not near the scale of this project) in our previous house and our beloved contractor said he was up for it - so we went for it!
I begged my contractor to finish the kitchen by Thanksgiving—- and we did (just barely!) So I hosted our families for Thanksgiving- all sitting around this incredible reclaimed wood, 14-foot dining table. We went around one by one and talked about things we were thankful for. Many around that table said it was the very best Thanksgiving they’d ever had.
I was on cloud 9 seeing that the future I had invested in (relationally) for many years prior to that was truly in reach.
Fast-forward a few more months to the last box being unpacked and the last picture hung on the walls in my kids rooms. The house was finally empty of sawdust and hammering. It was quiet.
I had closed up shop on my event business that I had been building for nearly 18 years and was excited about the next part of my family’s journey. Would we travel around the world with our kids like we always talked about doing? Would I use my years of event experience to help my husbands band get off the ground?
But while I relished in the upper deck views of the sunset on that newly remodeled dream home patio ... something inside that huge house made it hard to breathe.
Tons of square footage but not enough room for air.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my life was about to fall apart.
I somehow slipped from cloud 9 to the deepest muddy depth I’d ever known and spent the next several months trying to figure out how I got there.
Scrambling to understand the sudden harsh indifference in my marriage, staying up all night calling hospitals and watching the police scanner to see if there was a wreck because he never made it home for dinner. Driving around town in the wee hours hoping I was on a rescue mission but deep in my heart, I knew better.
On one of those so-called "rescue missions” - I walked into a bar at 2am and saw him there with her. I stayed back as not to embarrass and motioned him to meet me out front. I waited for a long time. And when I went back in, I realized he had snuck out the back door - leaving me standing there in the cold night air with sleeping kids still tucked in their beds.
Secrets to uncover, lies to piece together, physical evidence to face. I’ve never asked myself to be brave more than at that moment.
Infidelity in a marriage is jarring.
I know this story is not only mine but of many women out there. I vulnerably share here to bravely say - you are not alone. And someway, somehow - you will make it to the other side. It might never be what it was meant to be, but it can be beautiful, even still.
No matter if your story includes divorce or infertility or death or loss or deep disappointment. It can still be beautiful.
And to all the customers who have asked “What does Winton and Waits mean?”
...Thank You. By just asking that simple question, you were giving me an opportunity to live out the mission of my brand.
It’s my story.
It’s your story.
It’s the story of our makers and artisans.
It’s the story of the impact makers in our city and around the globe.
And at the deepest levels- our stories connect us.
That 14-foot dining table is now a centerpiece in my retail store. I haven’t been brave enough to gather people around it for a meal yet, but I feel that day might soon be approaching.
Let me know if you want a seat at the table.
You’re already invited.