Hi! Welcome to the blog suitably named "Vacation is calling..."! I've been wanting to add this section to our website for a while now. I am so excited to welcome you here! For those of you who don't know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Rachel and I am the owner of Sand and Straw. This is the story of how I got started, although, it almost didn't happen!
People always ask me “why did you start Sand and Straw”? Honestly, it was my childhood dream to open a boutique. I wanted to combine my love of retail and travel but was never sure how to do it. Then in September of 2019 I traveled to Punta Mita, Mexico with a friend and inspiration struck. I returned home from that trip and started doing research on straw bags but it didn't take long for the reality of my full time job to set in and research took a back seat.
It was not until mid-2020 during the pandemic that I found myself with lots of extra time on my hands! For the first time in my life I did some soul searching about what I wanted to do and what would bring me joy.
I couldn't shake the idea of opening my own boutique, but due to the pandemic I thought about starting in the e-commerce space. My idea was to bring something to the market that was happy. Something that brought a smile to everyone's face and that would remind people that vacation is calling, especially since we had all been trapped indoors! Then, strangely, in the same week my sister and boyfriend both asked what had happened to the straw bag idea? It was always in the back of my mind, but I had not mentioned it to anyone since leaving Mexico almost a year ago!
Immediately I grabbed my computer and started doing research. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with Moroccan straw bags. I was so impressed that all their bags were made by hand using traditional techniques and was further mesmerized learning that each sequin was individually hand sewn onto their bags!
I found a few Moroccan manufacturers and received samples. Eventually I decided to partner with one. I sent over some sketches and asked if they could produce them. I know you are probably thinking "oh, this sounds so simple" but it was a very arduous process. After months and months of back and forth, production was finally complete and bags were arriving at my house!
I officially launched the website on November 1st, 2021. Yes, I launched in the middle of winter, but proceeded with the mindset that "it's always summer somewhere". I strongly believed that these sequin straw bags were perfect for any occasion from a beach vacation, to a Christmas holiday party and everything in between, but even with all that confidence, I felt so vulnerable launching the website!
The very first person to purchase from Sand and Straw was my sister. I am so grateful to her for that first purchase and I'm pretty sure I cried. The subsequent purchases were mostly friends and family, until one day someone I didn't know purchased our large straw tote with pink sequin hearts! It was such an exhilarating moment and I'm pretty sure I shed more tears!
Sadly in 2021 I struggled with some health issues which unfortunately meant Sand and Straw fell by the wayside. I had never experienced health issues or anxiety before so it was really challenging for me. Thankfully I seem to be on the mend and am maintaining an extremely optimistic outlook for Sand and Straw in 2023.
In this blog I hope to share more about myself, travel, and the trials and tribulations of being a new entrepreneur! Thank you so much for reading and I can't wait to share more of my journey with you!
Vacation is calling, Rachel