We all know that 2020 was a trying and turbulent year (to put it mildly). Quarantined for months, the social isolation was a source of stress for many—including myself—making it difficult to maintain a positive outlook on the future. As we head into 2021, we are still facing trying and uncertain times. How do we take care, not only of our physical health but also our mental wellbeing during this Covid crisis?
For this month’s theme of Mindset, I interviewed entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “Pillow Goddess,” Tracie McCarthy, founder of Quarter Digs Co.—a home goods business based in Portland, OR. She launched Quarter Digs Co. during the pandemic to shift her focus and make use of her time and creative talents.
In 2018, Tracie, a wife and mother, lost her husband of over twenty years, LaShawn McCarthy, suddenly and unexpectedly, forcing her to cope and heal from enormous grief while still raising their children and rebuilding a life on her own.
I wondered how that life-changing experience of loss led her to this new journey in her life.
What led you to start Quarter Digs?
Tracie: Honestly, I hadn’t sewn since my husband LaShawn passed away in 2018. I’ve been working to fill his void in my life and was doing a pretty good job, then Covid hit. I pulled my sewing machine from the closet and set up a little sewing area in my home. I was on this mission to re-decorate and remodel parts of my home. I decided to make pillow covers. From that, I made some for others, and then made the decision to sell them… I want to do ALL the things. I didn’t want to just wish I had, so I decided, why not?! It’s the perfect time while stuck inside.
What is your business about?
Tracie: Currently, my business is a handmade home goods business. I am studying interior design and doing some side work as an interior stylist (Check out The Design Theory Project here), and so QD is an intro to product design—the two go hand-in-hand.
A lot of people would be apprehensive about starting a new venture during a pandemic—why did you feel now was a good time for you?
Tracie: I wasn’t the only one, but life had once again shifted my reality. Sewing was another option to keep busy. Again, I want to live my life as much as I can in the time that I have left. Compared to jumping from an airplane, starting a small creative business is on the easier side, I think. The pandemic actually helped me feel ok. I wasn’t feeling any fear of missing out. I wasn’t feeling any pressure to do anything but deal with the major loss the whole world was experiencing. I think the scariest part is presenting it to the world. The doing was the easy part.
The pandemic actually helped me feel ok. I wasn’t feeling any fear of missing out. I wasn’t feeling any pressure to do anything but deal with the major loss the whole world was experiencing. I think the scariest part is presenting it to the world. The doing was the easy part.
What is it about your personal and creative mindset that drives you?
Tracie: What drives me is living differently than I once did—and feeling fulfilled with what I do. I lived so many years creating and building a family. My kids and my husband came first. I loved my life then, and I love my life now. However, I am putting myself first and finding joy in my life. Not gonna lie, being on this journey is both wonderful and terrifying but, even in Covid, I’m excited for the future and all the things I get to do! Like I said, I want to do ALL the things.
Do you think that being a woman of color provides a unique creative mindset and perspective to the work you create?
Tracie: Yes, I believe that being a Black woman brings a wide, unique, and beautiful perspective. Before we begin any journey, we already know in the back of our minds that we have some challenges to overcome, but it seems that most of us do it anyway. Many of us have been brought up to believe in our Black girl magic, so we don’t hesitate to try…why not us?!
For my first line of pillows, I intentionally used colors that represent the African diaspora—red, black, and green. My brand colors are the same and represent our heritage, our struggle, our determination. Regardless of what the world tells us, we are a very strong, vibrant, and diverse group of individuals.
What do you hope Quarter Digs Co. grows into?
My upcoming line of pillows will be a little more flamboyant—and less practical, I guess you could say. It will show more of a creative spin on a pillow. I just want to have fun with the process and do things outside of the norm. I’m very excited about drawing outside of the lines.
I hope that Quarter Digs Co. grows into an online home goods shopping experience—a melting pot of my own hand made goods, other Black females and their handmade items, as well as well-maintained, gently used, one-off vintage home items.
How can the Seamwork community support this growth?
Sharing my vision and my company is more than I could ask for at this stage. I appreciate the platform and being able to share my story.
Follow Tracie and Quarter Digs Co. on Instagram.