Birth Day Reflections…

By August 20, 2006The Industry

082006_august_1979_2 27 years ago today I was born.  I always enjoy taking time to reflect when my Birth Day rolls around each year. Thinking about all I’ve done, where I’ve been, how much I’ve changed.  Because of some recent exciting news (details in the last paragraph of this post), I have mostly been reminiscing about my career. How it started.  Where it all began.  Looking back, I never in a million years would have imagined that I’d be where I am today, doing what I do.


Shortly after I got married in 1999, I had a few people asking me to make handmade birthday invitations for their children’s parties.  We were living in Connecticut outside of Waterbury.  I decided to start my own business.  I lovingly named it “Just-A-Note”.  I “published” my own catalog, printed from my home computer.  I had quite a few loyal customers, but the work got very repetitious.  And it was more difficult to create back then.  There weren’t many tools or supplies available at that time on the market.  So almost everything had to be made from scratch.

In January 2001, Owen was born. When he was about 5 months old a friend called to invite me to attend a scrapbook crop with her.  I decided to go.  While there, Jennifer (the scrapbook instructor), showed me a copy of Creating Keepsakes magazine.  As we were flipping through its pages, she said to me, ”Anybody can submit, you should give it a try!”  As my fingers ran across the glossy pages, full of creativity, I began noting all of the names in bold black text under each project.  I decided then and there, that one day I would see my name in print.

082006_paper_doll_page_2Life kept rolling along.  In August of 2001, we moved south, to Kentucky.  I began submitting scrapbook pages here and there to different publications.  Then one day while flipping through Memory Makers magazine I found an advertisement for a contest.  They wanted projects using creative, unique paper dolls.  I worked hard, perfecting each detail, until my entry was just right.  I submitted the page with a huge amount of anticipation weighing on my heart.  To my delight I was notified shortly there after that I had won an honorable mention and would be published in their special issue (Creative Paper Dolls, Spring 2002).  Hannah was born shortly after it was available in print.

082006_fmi_1Then I found a page in Creating Keepsakes, announcing a contest sponsored by Frances Meyer, Inc. (a.k.a. FMI).  First place winner would receive $2,000 in cash. I just knew I had to at least try.  With this contest, you had to send in your original work.  It was all I could do to wait to hear of the results.  The date came and went when they were supposed to announce the winners, and I knew for sure I had not won.  Then four days after the announcement date, I got a phone call.  It was the VP of FMI.  I had won first place!  They had so many entries to go through, that it had taken them longer than expected to chose a winner.  They fed-exed a check for two-grand, payable to “Nichole Heady” and it arrived 2 days later.  My winning page was published inside the front cover of the May 2003 issue of Creating Keepsakes.  It’s funny how David took notice of my future career path when the check arrived (LOL!).  Up until that point we had only had one vehicle, so we combined the winnings with our tax return to get our second car.  What a luxury that was!  David insisted that I set some money aside for myself, to do with what I like.  It was at this point that a good friend introduced me to Stampin’ Up!

I had only been to one workshop, and fell in love.  I had admired rubber stamps before, but never thought much of them.  How boring! Black ink, white paper!  Or so I thought!  One look at the SU! catalog and all the possibilities, I decided I needed it all!  My friend talked me into the idea of becoming a demonstrator.  So I signed up, purchasing the starter kit with my winnings I had set aside.  I jumped in head first, holding classes, running hostess workshops, fostering a downline.

082006_card_creations_1 In early 2003, I was browsing the internet and found a call for handmade cards to be used in a brand new publication called “Card Creations”.  I remember getting an amazing feeling deep down, that “I had to do this”.  So I slaved away for two weeks, coming up with several projects that could be considered “my best”.  I submitted them shortly after, and checked my email at least 20 times a day, waiting for some kind of message from them regarding my cards.  Then it finally happened.  I had three cards accepted!  I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself.  Shortly after that, Crafts magazine made its transition into Paper Crafts magazine, with their editor as their guide, Valerie Pingree.  I began making it a priority to submit projects to them often, with a few here and there actually getting accepted.  In January of 2004, we moved to our current home in Tennessee.  I hadn’t even finished unpacking everything into my new craft space when Valerie called me one day, completely out of the blue.  She needed a class designed for the CKC curriculum that year and she was on a very tight deadline.  Class title: Embossing and Beyond.  I needed to develop the class outline, two make n’ take projects, and 40 unique projects illustrating all techniques involved with embossing, including a handout that described in detail how to do each of these techniques. All in 8 days.  Did I wish to accept the mission? WOW!  I told her I would think about it and get back to her the next morning.  Hannah was 18 months.  Owen had just turned three.  Could I do this?  After the kids had been put to bed that night, I printed out all the information Valerie had emailed regarding what my tasks would be.  I prepared a hot bubble bath, and brought the paperwork to look over.  I read it over and over again.  I knew anyone with common sense would say no, but something kept pulling at me.  Something was telling me this would be one of the most important things I would do.  I thought about it a long time in the tub.  I finally decided to say yes.  So I worked around the clock for eight days straight.  My craft table had never been such a mess.  David & the kids were so neglected, but I knew deep down, that it was the right thing to do.  I completed the task on time, and Valerie loved the concepts I had come up with for the class.

082006_first_pc101_1 Not long after, in February 2004, she emailed regarding the extension of a concept covered in the CKC class.  She wanted me to take over their Paper Crafts 101 column, with the first subject to be adhesive embossing.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was being offered a “job” with the magazine.  It was a dream come true.  Actually, it was more than I had ever dreamed of.  So I continued creating the artwork behind PC101 every issue, and I still do to this day.  It’s almost been three years.  This past January I joined their Paper Crafts Pro Team, just to add to my blessings. 

So this brings me to today!  Recently a wonderful woman named Julie, spoke to me about designing my own line of stationery and other paper products, wrapping paper, journals, etc.  I’ve decided to do it, and I am so excited.  We’re aiming for a Christmas 2006 release, so I’ve been conceptualizing already.  It amazes me that a mere six years ago I was sitting behind my home computer, printing very novice stationery and marketing it to a few friends and family.  And here I am today, getting the opportunity to send my designs off to a professional printing company for mass production.

Happy Birth Day to me!  Who knows what I’ll be celebrating next year!

Nichole Heady

Author Nichole Heady

More posts by Nichole Heady

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • 1
    Sarah says:

    Happy Birthday, Nichole! Hope your day has been full of celebration! I celebrate you today … my new friend! 🙂

    Big congratulations to you on your accomplishments the past six years … and for your upcoming line of products. I am *so* thrilled for you and can’t wait to see them!

  • 2
    Lisa Somerville says:

    Happy Birthday Nichole!
    Congratulations on your design line!

  • 3
    Melissa says:

    It’s been fun watching your career sky rocket over the past 4 years. There have been times that I felt like I was almost as excited as you were. You know I think you rock….keep on going, girl!

  • 4
    Denise says:

    Nicole – Happy Birthday to YOU! What a wonderful gift for you to receive!
    I love all the work you do in Papercrafts and each time I get a new issue I quickly scan through it to find your designs and projects because they are always so fun!
    So excited for you!

  • 5
    Lisa Johnson says:

    I am SO very excited for you thanks for sharing your story… so amazing!

    Hope your Birthday was a day of JOY!

  • 6

    WOW! Nichole I love reading your story. You sound like me. (Only I’m still at the begining of your 6 years!LOL!)
    I have dreams and aspirations for this “hobby” in my future. Although life has thrown quite a few curve balls my way, and elayed my “plans”, I really feel I am like a butterfly, coming out of its cacoon. Thanks for sharing your story, and letting us share your ups and downs.

    I hope your future continues on a bright and successful path!

  • 7
    Sue says:

    What a wonderful, mavelous story. Happy Birthday to you – enjoy all of the adventures coming your way this year.

  • 8

    Wow! What an AMAZING story! I truly believe in destiny and this story is a great example! As I was reading, I could FEEL your excitement (as if I didn’t know what the end of the story would be)! Please God! I hope this will be my story one day too! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

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