Getting Sassier with Age: A Retrospective

Amy and Heather here, getting nostalgic and taking a peek backwards as we move forward…

We’ve been asked from time to time how Gauche Alchemy got its start. It might be a boring story, but we’ve decided give you a few of the details on this, our 3rd anniversary.  It’s been a wild ride, for sure, and we are still learning as we go.

Heather and I started scrapping together when our young children were much younger.  I got into scrapbooking in 2000, just after I returned from Greece to visit a friend.  I’m so glad I memorialized that experience because I forgot many more of the details than I imagined I would – mostly names and details of the places and people I saw.  Anyway, I kept trying to lure Heather into it, but it took a while.  Eventually (I think it was around 2005), she took to it, and I finally had a scrapping buddy (yay!).  Her daughter was only a baby then, and shortly after that, I got pregnant with my daughter.  When I finally had her (kind of) sleeping through the night, I’d head to my scrap room as soon as she was asleep and stay up much too late, getting some time for myself.  It was truly therapy at that time.

It was the best girl time!  We spent some great late nights building a wonderful friendship and making some art in the process.  And there may have been a glass or two of wine involved, and definitely some guacamole.  Midnight IS the snacking hour, after all!

Over time, our scrap room conversations turned to maybe starting our kit club.  Already we were tiring of “strictly scrap.” We wanted ephemera and found objects and fun stuff we couldn’t necessarily find at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  We had no idea how to do it, but we thought it would be fun and give us an excuse to shop and then share what we found with others.

And it definitely had to have a gauche, irreverent twist.  No stereotypical scrapbook themes here!  We laughed ourselves silly thinking of taglines we would put on our hypothetical business cards, and wrote down list after list of themed kits we dreamed up!  No topic was sacred.

We decided that it had to be a bit different than anything else out there, so we combined as much attitude as two polite young women can muster (ha!), and took the leap.  I spent a lot of time in those days designing and doing my best to optimize the blog.  My husband complained I was married to my computer.  We made it up as we went along, and there was a lot of making up to do… because we quickly realized with the economy tanking, that there wasn’t as much demand for subscription kit clubs as there once was.  It seemed everyone was looking to get OUT of commitments, and even staunch kit club fanatics were cutting back.

So we went back to the drawing board and took another look at our vision for Gauche Alchemy.  At that point, it became much more freewheeling.  We released themed kits sporadically, stopped focusing on subscribers, and kept adding more mixed media basics.  Some of these have endured.  Others have gone the way of the dodo.  We try to keep looking at everything with fresh eyes.  We’ve experimented with different design team configurations.  We tried pulling back; we’ve tried racing forward.  And we generally try to keep our finger on the pulse of what our readers and customers want without giving up our uniqueness and that little niche that GA seems to fill rather nicely.

We have not been afraid to rock the boat, and we like designers who operate the same way.  Julie Kirk is a great example of a past designer (and Team Captain!) who really knows how to have a party in the boat, lampshade on head, shaking her booty with abandon.  In her underwear.  And then there’s our current Captain, Maggi Flynn, who (as far as I know) coined the phrase, “Rip the box a new one.”   How’s that for thinking outside the box?

In fact, without our designers and team captains, I know that GA could not be what it has become today.  Although we are getting closer to the eventual goal of at least one of us quitting her day job, that hasn’t happened yet.  We work a lot over weekends and pack orders late into the evening… juggling jobs and families with Gauche Alchemy.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world, and without our designers to rock things out and captains to keep everyone on track, we might have given up long ago (there have been times I’ve considered it, if I’m being honest).  It truly is the most gratifying thing to have others share in your vision, and we try to keep things like family as much as we can around here.

I bet you’re wondering what our favorite kits have been in the past three years…

In our quest to give our customers the most unique kits (served with a huge dose of snark, to be sure), we’ve covered a myriad of taboo topics.  Our “Lush” kit served up vintage cocktails, complete with fancy umbrellas and drink stirrers.  The above kit, “Geekery”, is one of my very favorites from the past three years.  Flash cards, typography, tweed, vintage engineering diagrams and original art pieces from local artist Roy Wasson Valle.  **drool**  I’m such a sucker for a boy who likes numbers!

And this kit was very near and dear to my heart.  “Moms for Mams” was our kit for Breast Cancer Awareness month, and a very special one.  My own mother is a breast cancer survivor, so being able to share this kit was especially meaningful.


What’s YOUR favorite kit?  Or maybe you have a favorite artist that sparked your creative ideas or read a blog post that challenged you to try a new technique.

  Our main goal here at Gauche Alchemy has always been to inspire you to be fearless in your art making, and we truly hope that this upcoming third year of business will bring a huge, heapin’ helpin’ of just that.  Thank you for sticking around–we’ve got some really amazing stuff in store for you!

9 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday my lovelies!

    Once again I’m touched by your loyalty and your readiness to share the GA glory with your wider team.

    If I helped in anyway, I couldn’t be happier.

    The thought of you at some point leaving your day jobs to be Gauche 9-5 is amazing – I wish you everything you wish for yourselves. x

    p.s: I loved ‘Geekery’ too!

  2. And what a wonderful blessing it was that two brave souls decided to share a little “Gauche” with the world!

    Thank you for the memories, my sweets. You are just the most amazing ladies and I will always be grateful for the chance to play with your beautiful stuff!

    My favorite kit? Much like my style, I go in and out of trends, a little old school, a little of the trends, and all of it I’ve found in every single kit Gauche Alchemy has put out.

    You girls are my heroines. More power to you and may you have plenty more gaucheness to last for more years to come!


  3. Your messages were just what I needed to read this morning, ladies!! Thank you for the support and encouragement, and your continued love and sharing of the Gauche gospel. Amy and I often talk about our former design team with such fondness and gratitude, and we mean every word of it. xoxox

  4. Beautifully written. Happy third birthday.

    Thank you so much for letting me be a part of GA.

    What a labor of love this has been for the two of you. I hope that your dream to quit your day jobs becomes a reality in the near future.

    Love to you both,

  5. Loved reading this.. love all you do. xo

  6. I loved reading this post. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to be part of this amazingly unique and dynamic team. It really blows my mind how well we all work together. It seems the foundation of having the same vision, love, and attitude that we all have is making Gauche Alchemy the new cool kid in hall. I love everything you guys do and you guys are so much fun to work for and work with. I look forward to these next few months with eagerness. Much love and Happy Birthday! Now let’s get fooschnickin’!

  7. What an awesome look at GA’s beginnings! I have loved GA from the first moment I discovered it. Then and there I was determined to get myself on their team, no matter what I had to do! lol

    My favorite of everything GA offers is the color kits. I just LURVE my color kits! The ACME kits are amazing too. GA is awesome and I’m so honored to be a part of this post, this team and the ever amazing GA!

    Happy birthday ladies!

    *hugs and drinks all around*

  8. as a new DT member I really enjoyed reading this. Happy Birthday and WELL DONE! x

  9. Happy, Happy Birthday Mama’s 😀

    I love GA – I love you two girls behind it, I love being on the team and I love how I can be MEEEEEE with your products. *Mwaaah, mwaaah’s* all round. I love your encouragement for us to be ourselves and how individually you encourage us too! (Gauche Art Doll coming soon!)

    My favourite kit was Nevermore – as you know *g* but I love the look of Geekery too and the postal one looks huhmazing! The colour kits are just… well, undescribable and different every time!

    Now I can’t be there to do it so make sure and give yourself the bumps 😀

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