Carrie came to us one year ago after her business grew out of what her gracious in-laws' basement could hold. Nervous and giddy, she handed over her first rent check, signing a six month trial lease for a classroom in the basement of The Milton Schoolhouse with no small amount of excitement.
For months, Carrie lead her growing base of clients through a dark, damp, and uninviting hall way to her studio as we continued to renovate the schoolhouse. As we began to paint the basement floor, she had to walk her clients up and down two flights of unnecessary stairs in the most convoluted fashion. She didn't grumble. She didn't mind our mess. She saw the potential of what this place would become. Her effervescent optimism spread to nervous clients, many of whom had never known Milton for anything but its vacant and haunted reputation, her smiles and reassurances overcoming any trepidation they may have had when first walking through the door. Her optimistic visions soon became a reality as Milton transformed into a much more welcoming place. In the meantime, I can never repay the beautiful vision she helped others to see in Milton as it was progressing.
Her enthusiasm has paid off for her business here as well. Not knowing if her client base would expand to financially cover rent (finances are always the scary part when you move into a commercial space!) , she was determined to make it happen. Carrie set up a series of brilliant mini-sessions to cater to her growing base of clients, and she also began to work on promoting her work with high school seniors. Not only has Carrie expanded the number of beautiful families who rely on her to artfully capture their memories, she has also allowed the environment at Milton to expand her own skill as an artist. Her photography was always good, but in the last year I have seen her work become something truly lovely. We eventually moved her into a corner room in the schoolhouse with considerably more light than her first location- and I believe at that point she made some secret promise to herself never to leave.
And I hope she never does. Carrie is as much a part of my family as, well, my family is. When Carrie faced uncertain results from a routine scan following an old battle with cancer, we shared in that heart wrenching stress. I remember a particularly intense dinner conversation during that time where- after several moments of awkward silence between Joel and myself- one of us finally brought up the elephant in the room. What if Carrie had to undergo surgery? What if she was unable to work for a couple of months?
"We'll just close up the room. We'll work extra to cover the loss of income. We'll do what we can."
After all, isn't that what families do? Carrie is as much of my family as, well, my family is. And once the subject was brought up- there was no doubt in either my mind or Joel's that Milton's halls could go on without the sounds of her contagious laugh, babies giggling, and that child entrancing "BRRRRRRRRRRRR!" noise she makes emanating from that corner basement room.
On Milton's most dismal days, I am reminded just by walking by her room how fortunate I am to have my job- and how fortunate we are that Milton has brought to us so many amazing entrepreneurs. I don't think anyone here would deny that her bright and sunny personality certainly adds a much needed spunky to Milton's basement halls. Happy One Year At Milton- Carrie Carpunky!