I haven't always set out with a clear dream of what my career would be; what I did know is I needed a life that involved creativity, connection, and community. Most of all, I needed to be on the west coast of Michigan. Born near Little Traverse Bay and from Harbor Springs, Michigan, I have always felt most at home amongst the life of unpredictable weather and shifting sunlight that seems commanded by Lake Michigan. I long for winter as much as I long for summer, and I feel most at home when in or near the lake or wandering the woods in this precious area of the world.
The thing that has forever been a constant part of the cultural aspect of this seasonal midwest coastal life I call home, now in Leelanau County, has been gathering around a table. From rowdy family dinners with all my cousins and aunts and uncles at my Grandparent's home in Harbor Springs, to holidays spent with friends who felt like family, to the potlucks at my father's church where he was a pastor. I have always known that food and coming together is an essential piece to this life of seasons. Gatherings is how we build relationships. Dishes are passed, and we share in the simplest and most primal act.
As I entered into my career and dove into the world of creating content, I found the thing I loved the most was bringing other creative people together around a table. Whether I cooked, a chef cooked, or we all brought a plate to pass, we all brought ourselves to the table. Each season was marked by these moments, under glittering lights and flickering candles or warm fires and oversized sweaters and blankets. These moments always brought a deep sense of belonging, connection, and something that never could translate fully through the images on our blog.
When we left our life in Traverse City, Michigan in 2013, I thought I was heading to something greater, but when arriving in that midsize city in North Carolina, what I found was that the gatherings and feasting I knew as a part of our life in Traverse City and Leelanau were an important part to our days and months there. The connection of our food to our plate and the mindset of local was an identifying factor to me of the culture I had been raised in. So though I loved the lake and missed the shoreline, I longed for the farm stands, the farm dinners, and the evenings of gathering as a community in a way that only we do in Leelanau. Something I before had never realized was the identifying culture of the place I knew as home.
Coming home in 2016 as a new mom, I knew I needed to shift my career. It took time to learn just what I was meant to do in this new chapter of my life. I spent many of my days wandering the shores of Lake Michigan through the fall and winter months wearing a baby that napped and thinking about these tiny shifts that defined our days. I noticed the rhythms amongst the community and our own life as the leaves fell, the snow covered our world, and our days quieted. When the spring arrived and the tulips opened, I felt I saw just how this next phase would happen and this is when the dream of Fresh Exchange, a lifestyle brand focused on Intentional Seasonal Living, was born. We ate more locally, we focused on seasonal meals and allowed the rhythms to take over our old habits. Amongst that, I started dreaming of a line of products that complimented and defined this way of life, but I wanted them to be put together much like our gatherings. I wanted to bring makers from around the Great Lakes and Midwest region together in one place and to work hand and hand with them to create products that defined culture here. I wanted products that weren't just beautiful, but functional and had a beautiful story behind them. This was when I began to see the face of the Fresh Exchange Collection.
So, I started designing and finding makers in the area who I believed in and knew could see this vision. I began pursuing my own craft and hands-on creative ways again and finding that local and sustainable many times goes hand-in-hand. Buying small, focusing local, building an awareness of seasons, and creating connections brought me closer to my community and my footprints on the earth much smaller.
This is how we have built this store and these products. Together with the hands and support of many from my husband Mike to our parents to our closest friends (some are our makers), we have begun a dream that we hope will impact you as much as it already has us. We believe that a life of seasons is about essentialism, intention, awareness, and connection. We believe that when we strip away the unnecessary and allow for imperfections, we can build a life of meaning. We believe that we should eat well and simply. We believe that the earth provides us with our greatest needs and, in turn, we should tread lightly on her. We believe that when we can slow ourselves just enough to look around, breathe in the air, and take daily steps toward new habits, not only will we find deeper connections to our community, but in turn find greater joy. From our products to the recipes we cook to the way we live our life, this is just one more way we believe we can constantly pursue a life of deep meaning.
We hope you enjoy how these products will impact your days. Each one is carefully made and designed for a life of seasons that is inspired by this special coastline on Lake Michigan that will always be our greatest source of inspiration. It isn't about more, it is about building connection and community; each item here will always stem from that purpose.
The Fresh Exchange Manifesto
A Time to Gather.⠀
A Time to Rest.⠀
A Time to Grow.⠀
A Time to Let Go. ⠀
These are the seasons.⠀
This is how we live.⠀