Episode #127: (MINI) Elsie’s Life Map

In this mini-episode, Elsie is sharing her life map—a little biography with a lot of random things she hasn’t shared before.


You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

A big thank you to our sponsors! Check out the offers from Spoonflower. If you’re looking for either of the prints Emma mentioned here is Noel Christmas by Hip Kid Designs, and Woodland Gnomes by Shelby Allison. And, if you’re looking for a specific code you heard on the podcast, you can see a full list on this page!

Show notes:

Elsie’s Life Map:

First memories: Getting to be creative by painting with her mom and being in her dad’s garden.

Elementary school: was bullied and called names.

Junior High: Made homemade invitations for a party and no one showed up.

High School: Went through a punk rock phase and listened to Jimmy Eat World, All American Rejects, and Green Day.

First job: A used bookstore

Other jobs: Wedding photographer, Hobby Lobby, and a tanning salon.

-Got engaged at 18 and married at 19. She quit college and moved into her first apartment that cost $325/month.

-Loved scrapbooking and felt like it was the first time she believed she could do something, and then actually did it.

-She started posting scrapbooking pages on message boards and got a book deal. She also appeared on the cover of scrapbooking magazines and got her own scrapbooking collection called Love Elsie.

-Got divorced at 24.

-Had her first experience with internet backlash and learned the importance of setting boundaries.

-Continued seeing her marriage therapist and started going on dates. Then, she drove Emma to LA with their grandparents. On this trip, Emma and Elsie made daily videos.

-Emma’s husband, Trey, introduced Elsie to Jeremy.

-Lost her scrapbooking job and started an Etsy shop. This was the hardest time in her business, and owed back taxes/was not making money from the store.

-Married Jeremy on the top floor of Red Velvet, the shop she owned with Emma.

-Moved to Nashville and bought a 1970s fixer-upper. This was her first renovation project.

-Decided if she didn’t get pregnant before her fifth wedding anniversary, she would adopt. Elsie and Jeremy adopted two kids in two years (Nova and Marigold).

-Check out Episode 123: Emma’s Life Map

-Listen to Episode 75: Elsie’s Evangelical Upbringing Story

-What should Elsie’s memoir title be? Leave a comment below!

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 127 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. In this mini-episode, I’m sharing my life map, which is kind of like a little biography with a lot of random stuff I haven’t shared before. Emma shared hers recently and today I’m here to share mine.

Emma: Yeah, I like how you describe a life map. That’s fun.

Elsie: Yeah, I mean, I think it sounds kind of like the outline version if you were starting a biography. I don’t plan to ever write a memoir so this is it. This is it.

Emma: There you go.

Elsie: I’ll probably definitely write one someday, you know, probably not. I don’t know.

Emma: Now that you said you won’t, you probably will. 

Elsie: Cursed the curse. Okay. So my first memories were being creative when I was really young, making art with my mom. My biggest sensory memories are painting with my mom and being in my dad’s garden. My dad’s always had a beautiful garden. We’ve always helped him shell the peas and helped him pick the carrots. It’s a really happy part of our childhood. In Emma’s episode, she said that if she could describe our family, in a word, it would be creative. I love that because I completely agree. I think that was part of the magic of childhood for me. I have this theory that it’s really important for kids to feel good at something from a young age. Art gave me that. It gave me a way to feel talented and special from a young age. Because I mean it’s hard to be the best in your class at something, you know what I mean? But I was always the best in my class at art. I always knew I could do anything I wanted to, in art, I could learn it, I could do it. Just knowing that opens up endless possibilities that it’s just a mind shift. So that was magical. So I was a pretty loud kid. I was a bit of an attention hog if you will. But what’s weird is I kind of went through extremes, because I became a lot more shy in elementary school, and actually painfully shy through upper elementary school and through all of high school. Now, I actually think I’m both because I am painfully shy but I also thrive on a lot of attention, clearly, I’m a blogger. I can’t deny that I am conditioned to receive a lot of attention. It’s weird, though, but I still really, really struggle with being in big groups and going to events, showing up when I’m invited to places is still really hard for me. So yeah, that shy, like nervous energy that came up during those years never really went away. I wish it would, but I’m glad I don’t know, I guess I’m glad to be both. Sometimes I can hide it like, you know, pretend temporarily. The show must go on. Like whenever Emma and I’ve done public speaking before, it’s like completely putting all the energy in my body out there, and then that night, I’m like, a slug on a rug.

Elsie: Yeah, we’re like ok time to stay in. 

Elsie: So yeah, my school years were very hit and miss. I have had a lot of bullying experiences in my childhood. Which I am like on the Kelly Clarkson, if it doesn’t kill you makes you stronger vibe with that stuff. I don’t want my kids to be bullied. But I’m very prepared to show them a bigger perspective when and if it happens. So yeah, in elementary school, my nickname was butt picker and my other nickname was Elsie the cow. I don’t know if you all grew up with Borden milk cartons but we did and ours said the word Elsie on the carton. Our milk cartons at school that we were raised with that we got for lunch every single day. 

Emma: The cow that was their mascot. The cow was named Elsie. Unfortunately, that was also your name. For some reason, kids felt that was something to like make fun of you for. I don’t know, it’s not even that good of a burn really.

Elsie: It’s not even a good insult. When I would walk onto the school bus, kids would say moo. I was bullied in a kind of silly way from a young age. I do believe that it made me a stronger adult and it taught me some positive things. Like sometimes you’re in a group and it’s just not your group, or it’s just not your people. Later on, you’ll find a better group where you can thrive and shine and feel more like yourself and feel more accepted. That’s kind of how I live my life on the internet now. It’s like some days, it’s just like, not your day and it’s like a survival skill thing. Then other days, it feels like I was born to do this and it’s just both and I guess it always has been. This is so sad. So in junior high, I threw a party with my best friend. We handmade invitations and handed them out to almost every kid in school definitely like all our friends and lots of strangers. Just like anyone we thought would be fun to come to the party. Actual number zero people showed up. Actually, zero people came to our party. Eventually, after a few hours, her dad called some of the older boys from our church, he was a youth leader. So he was basically like, please come over and make them feel better because no one came to their party. So then we were like, cool boys came to our party, didn’t invite them but. It was like, kind of I did grow up feeling like a loser kind of, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s kind of cool. It teaches you not to put all of your eggs in one basket. I always knew that there were other places where I could feel more accepted, but it definitely for me wasn’t in school. Emma and I were in the punk rock phase in high school, it was the 90s and we were listening to Jimmy Eat World as I mentioned before, and the early 2000s, The All American Rejects. What else were we listening to? Green Day? 

Emma: Probably. 

Elsie: We were feeling good about ourselves so don’t worry, it was fine. We had bumper stickers on our car and we had patches on our bag. We had rips in our jeans and I had like 80 earrings in each ear that I poked there myself.

Emma: I had a pair of Jenko jeans, only one pair. They were expensive.

Elsie: That’s true. I remember I wore those jeans to church once. One of the adult youth leaders told me that I shouldn’t wear them because I was trying too hard. 

Emma: No one told me anything. People really like to pick on you for some reason. That’s so weird.

Elsie: I’m a magnet. I magnetize. 

Emma: You are.

Elsie: To the extremes. Anyways. okay, so not to make everything about Hillary Clinton, but whenever she said once, they were like, what would you say, she would say I didn’t deserve the best of it and I didn’t deserve the worst of it. That’s how I feel in my life. The bullying has been so dumb and so crazy and I don’t think I deserved it. But I also feel like I’ve gotten a lot of credit for things that I didn’t deserve at times. So yeah, it’s okay, moving on. You can go to Episode 75 if you want to hear all my things about my evangelical upbringing, it’s kind of an emotional episode. I don’t want to relive it again so I’m not going to now. I felt very supported after it came out and also very overwhelmed. It was probably the most emotional messages and stories and it was really a trip. So yeah, I don’t have the emotional capacity to do that more than once ever again. But if you haven’t heard it, I think it’s an interesting story. I mean, I put definitely the most thought into that, that I’ve ever put into anything. I wanted to tell it, and I’m glad I did. But yeah, so I’m going to leave a lot out from that. But to summarize, if you’re not going to go back, I got married at age 19. I was engaged at age 18. I was still working at my very first job at a used bookstore. My first apartment cost $325. I had never had a checkbook before. I had never had a debit card before. I was a child getting married and that was a big part of my life story. I did stay married for almost five years with a roller coaster of highs and lows, but ultimately, was divorced at age 24. But there was kind of a good story that came in between those four years that I want to tell. So okay, I decided to quit college after I got married pretty much because I started going to Bible college. Then I realized I wasn’t going to do Bible stuff for a living and I felt like I was gonna have to start all over. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. So I just decided to try to be a wedding photographer with just like my first camera and probably $150 in my checking account, and people hired us to shoot their weddings, and Emma, my high school sister did it with me. We did that for a couple of years. The majority of people who do weddings get burned out pretty quickly because it’s a pretty difficult job. For that age and the maturity level, I was at it was definitely not something that I can maintain long term. So I was looking for the next thing after that and I was working at Hobby Lobby, I had recently worked at the mall at a tanning salon and that was kind of my roundup of first jobs. I was kind of getting into scrapbooking. It was something fun for me. I was always into artistic stuff and home economics was my favorite class in high school. So anyway, I was working at Hobby Lobby, and I was spending money, getting the stuff in the sales every week and collecting my own little suitcase of scrapbooking supplies. I started to buy the magazines. At the time in the early 2000s, scrapbooking was becoming kind of an industry. I started to realize from these magazines that people seemed to be making an income and a living from it. So I just decided that I was going to become one of those people. It was sort of my first experience with believing I could do something and actually doing it. I think that was real magic in my life at that time because, within about two years, I went from working at Hobby Lobby, to getting my first computer and joining a message board about scrapbooking and posting my scrapbooking pages. All of a sudden I got a book deal. I wrote a book about scrapbooking. I was in the magazine every month. They had magazines where I was on the cover. I went to conventions and signed autographs. It’s just so funny now. Ultimately, I got my own little scrapbooking collection, which was kind of like under the banner of another company making scrapbooking products already. It was called Love Elsie and it was for sure the coolest job out of all my friends at like age 23. I had a booth at the scrapbooking convention that looked like a retro kitchen. They put a real fridge in it that really had drinks in it. I was just like losing my mind, so happy to have this career and this opportunity and such a big life change so quickly. So yeah, that was my happy thing that happened. During that time, I was traveling quite a bit almost every weekend teaching classes was my big job at the time. That is kind of how I also got my support system to help me through my divorce was my scrapbooking friends. That was the first time that I told people what I was experiencing and what I thought I needed to do in life and had an answer that was different from my Evangelical Church answers that were all stay married, it’ll be fine. Some other people I met were finally like, no, it’s okay to get a divorce. People do that and they still are happy and live productive lives. It was my first time to make friends outside of the church, essentially and many of those people I’m still friends with today, and some of the most meaningful relationships of my life for sure. Anyway, moving on.

Emma: I also think that your scrapbooking career, it kind of gave you the financial opportunity too, to feel like you didn’t have to move back in with your parents or be completely financially devastated from the divorce because you had a job, a career that was just yours and that you had built. I think that was really a blessing at the time too.

Elsie: Absolutely, I think that that’s something that people have to have compassion for, is for women who feel like they don’t have an option in life. It’s really, really important for people to feel like they have options. So I had just gotten a divorce at age 24 and it was my first experience with major internet backlash. Up until that time, I had shared my life on the internet pretty freely. I would go on there and just write a blog post about how I was fighting with my friend, or like wildly unprofessional things that weren’t thought out. There was no thought put into things before, I just said whatever I thought. I said lots of things in those days that I cringe at now. I made a whole scrapbooking page about how I didn’t care about politics. I’m like, why would someone ever do that when you have an option to say other things?

Emma: Hold on. When you were younger than 24, you did things you regret now? I don’t believe it!

Elsie: I know. I was just just a kid still learning and making mistakes. Also learning how to be an internet persona. That is not an easy thing. I have a lot of compassion for my past self now because the internet was really harsh at that time in a different way than it is now. it’s still really harsh but it’s a lot more compassionate now and a lot like I think that people have taken the time to consider the idea that people on the other side of the screen are still humans who deserve love and respect. At that time, it wasn’t like that yet. I was harassed pretty much every day for about a year. My boss at the time, you know, I was very scared to divorce because my marriage was very public and I had to like, I was making scrapbooking pages about our wedding and our trips and everything. Then all of a sudden, it was like, just me by myself and I was showing my apartment. I was like, what do I do, it was very scary. My boss at the time was like, you don’t owe anyone anything. You’re not going to mention this at all. you’re not going to address it, you’re just going to move on, you’re just going to live your life. The way he saw it was you don’t owe them I think, which is a nice thing. I don’t know if it was the best approach or not, but it’s what I did and I stuck with that. I was just daily harassed for about a year. So every single day, I would start my day with my little mint tea, deleting comments about how I owe an explanation to everyone, and they’re not going to stop asking and, you know, horrible mean things. So anyway, that was my first experience with that. I think that the good thing that came out of it is that I learned the importance of boundaries, which I had no idea about that before. So not too long after that, I remember I had my marriage therapist, and she was my marriage therapist and then after I got divorced, I continued going to her for about a year just as my solo therapist, just to work into having a new life. There were a lot of changes really quickly. I was living alone for the first time.  I remember having an apartment with just a mattress. You know what I mean? Just really quick changes. So anyway, she was sort of like my dating advice guide. She was my person I talked to about like, when should I go on a date? What should I do about this? What should I do about this? During that following year, I kind of started to occasionally have a date or like had a couple of MySpace boyfriends, which was really funny now. I had it all privately, which I think was such a good step, a good human experience now looking back, that I learned that. You don’t have to share everything about your life on the internet. That was the first time since I had started sharing that I had things where I just was leaving the whole thing off. It felt really good. No one had ever explained to me that that was a positive or that you’re not expected to share your whole life on the internet. Very fun, little period. Right around that time, I helped Emma move to LA, which was the cutest and best road trip of my life because both our grandparents went with us. We sort of took two cars and then we all switched back and forth. Sometimes that’d be riding with Emma, sometimes I would be riding with my grandma, sometimes with my grandpa. We just kind of frequently switched on and off. Then we also stayed in hotels together. It took a lot of days to drive to LA, not like two days like it would now. It took like three or four. I remember one night we were trying, okay, so every day we were making this little video with this little video camera that I had. We were trying to make a daily video of our road trip to share on I don’t know if it was for MySpace or for the blog, but I think they’re still up there somewhere. They’re so cute. Anyway, it was like 10 o’clock at night and we were sitting on the couch in the hotel room editing our video and my grandma come out of bed and came over and said, what are you guys doing up in the middle of the night?

Elsie: So cute. So yeah, we ate a lot of Denny’s. That was a really magical experience. Then I moved home and I stayed friends with Emma’s boyfriend or ex-boyfriend, who’s her husband now, complicated web of experiences. He introduced me to Jeremy so a couple of months later after Emma moved, then I met Jeremy. We were pretty much instantly in love. I’m going to share just one story from that, that I don’t think I’ve ever shared before because it’s really embarrassing. Okay, so the story is we had like, just sort of gotten together. We were seeing each other all the time, almost every single day, just like the first couple weeks maybe of dating and falling in love. I don’t even know if we said I love you yet because it was really recent. One night when I think I was definitely drunk when I said this, I said do you think we’re soulmates? He said no, which I love. I still love this story because recently like only a few months ago, I asked him like, remember this story where I said I was drunk and I said, are we soulmates and you said no. I was like, would you change the answer now because now we’ve been together for like 14 years or 13 years, and he said, no, I still don’t believe in soulmates.

Emma: I gotta say, I feel like he’s just like, not on the soulmates.

Elsie: He just doesn’t like soulmates. He knows that we are, whether he likes it or not. So anyway, after that, I recently had lost my scrapbooking job, it had kind of like a quick bad ending. I was looking for money, like quickly so I started my Etsy shop. I think, actually, I already had an Etsy shop before that, but I was like, I guess I’ll just post on my Etsy shop more. I was like, I just need something intermittently.  I wanted to start another business, but I didn’t know what to do. I had a non compete clause so I didn’t feel like I could, if I could go back, I would do a lot of things differently, but I didn’t feel like I could just like get another job in scrapbooking. I just was following the rules so I thought. So I just decided to live off my Etsy income and it was a really, really hard couple of years. Definitely my low point in my life. It was magical, good things happened, it was the start of our blog. All of our earliest posts were during that time. We opened up a shop and then we opened up another shop, even though the first shop didn’t do well. We were just like living the 25-year-old dreams. It was magical and wonderful, but also really, really tough financially. Until we accepted, a couple of years after that, that our blog was sort of like the money to follow in our career and the thing to prioritize. Before we accepted that I had lots of times where people, certain like business advisors, like the person who was helping me build my website, they were looking at the back end of my shop, and they were like, you should only do classes. You shouldn’t be selling any products. You’re not making any money from this shop. You’re just making money from your classes. Do you realize that? I was like, yeah, but that’s not what I want to do. I was just like an idealistic kid. Then our accountant, who still our accountant to this day, we’re great friends, in my dining room, at my first house or my first loft told me, when your family asks you, if this is doing well, do you say yes, because this is not doing well.  Which I love that now because he was right. He was honestly one of the only people and I mean, he was seeing my taxes so he like really knew. But he was one of the only people that was like, really, really honest, and not that other people weren’t. I know, my parents at that time, we’re like, would you like to go back to college and other people were worried about me. But I do think that there is some merit and some value to going through those hard few years in your business. I feel lucky that I didn’t have to stay there too many more years after that, because the burnout was very real and it was very difficult. But I think the appreciation that you get later on feels like a big payoff.

Emma: Yeah. I think one of the best career moves you ever made was hiring me. 

Elsie: That’s true. That’s for sure.

Emma: No, I’m just kidding. I wanted to do that joke.

Elsie: I made a lot of mistakes when we started working together. No, I mean, I will say it like, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. You had a lot of back taxes that we were backed up on and in our store. A lady from the IRS came in and made me sign papers that said, like, if you don’t start making small payments, then you might have to go to jail. It was a very scary and dark time. I mean, it sounds like a kind of small problem to me now but at the time it was so overwhelming. I didn’t see how we would possibly all pay back all of that money. I think it was like $20,000 in taxes, just taxes that we owed. It’s like when you’re running your first small business, that is a really dark overwhelming thing to deal with. So Emma was very practical, she sort of like, started the process of hiding money from me that I think kind of never ended. We still kind of do that to this day. She always sets my expectations really low of how much money we can get and then I always end up getting a little bit more and being happy with it. So in a way, she’s sort of like my business mom.

Emma: That’s interesting that you think I hide money from you. I don’t know if that’s at all how I would describe it?

Elsie: You don’t think that’s true?

Emma: No, you have all the logins. You’re just don’t log in. Well, at any rate, you were the best thing that ever happened to me too. 

Elsie: If I ever wrote a memoir which I said I’m not going to, there would definitely be a chapter that was like, and then Emma changed everything. That’s how I want people to remember it because it really is true. Everything started looking brighter within a year of Emma moving home. We paid off our taxes. We got a book deal. We started making money from our blog. We eventually gave up the idea that we were going to make a real living from our store, even though it was so cute. I still think about decorating those windows and I don’t regret doing it. I would do it again but it’s not a way to make money.

Emma: Well, yeah, you keep trying to do it again and I keep saying no.

Elsie: You told me that you would make a You’ve Got Mail bookstore with me and I’m holding you to that for later on in life.

Emma: I will. I’m hoping that one day, we won’t really have to make money anymore. We’ll just get to that place where somehow you’re just good. I don’t know exactly but we’ll get there. Then we’ll just do whatever we want, which can be the bookstore or whatever.

Elsie: I love it. Okay, yeah. Emma moved back. She made the best bubble tea. It was so fun. We had a bubble tea machine with the little plastic wrap that goes on the top legit, and she made the best cupcakes and we failed at our store together. Then we pivoted to blogging. That’s really when our business started to grow. 

Emma: I liked that you told them the IRS story. That’s a pretty, it’s a deep cut.

Elsie: I want people to know how bad it was because I think it’s important to know if you see someone successful, it’s important to know that it wasn’t at all just easy.

Emma: I think you always think like, oh, they just got that or it was just handed to them. They’ve always had it. It was fine. It’s like, actually, we dug out of some pretty serious debt for a couple there. It was tough.

Elsie: I know a lot of title look at bloggers, and they’re always like, do your parents have money? You know what I mean? Ours was like, it’s pretty humble beginnings. Anyway, so yeah, after that I got married. We got married at the top floor of our store in the sort of like, condemned falling down room. I remember my favorite comment was like, why did you get married in such a shithole. Which I think is so funny because it is beautiful. I’ll put a picture in the show notes. It is beautiful, in like, a falling apart way. That building now, it’s a tea house, like an old lady tea house in our hometown. We’ve been to it a couple of times, and it’s wonderful. It’s still a good vibe, although I don’t miss working there or really anything about that season of life, except for the memories that we still have.

Emma: I love what they’ve done with the store. It’s awesome now. They figured it out.

Elsie: So yeah, not too long after that we got on our feet, our business was growing. I decided to move to Nashville because this is how it happened, it’s such a sad, but cute, but funny story. So we were watching the Super Bowl, the one where Katy Perry was the musical guest because that’s how I can tell apart the Super Bowls. 

Emma: The halftime show. 

Elsie: Yes. This was a long time ago, like seven years ago. Anyway, one of our friends had a song, I think it was in a Budweiser commercial. I was just sitting there probably a little drunk, just experiencing the moment of being happy for our friend. I got it into my head at that moment that Jeremy could have things like that in his career but the problem was living in Missouri. I’ll just cut to the chase, that didn’t really turn out to be true but that’s why we moved to Nashville. We still love living in Nashville so some good things came out of it. That was the first moment when I was like, I think we should, I think I said it right then because that’s how I am, we should move to Nashville. He was like, uh, and then a couple of weeks later, he was like, yeah, okay, maybe. Then we started visiting. We were already visiting a lot. So anyway, we bought this 70s fixer-upper ranch. It was the most grandma house I’ve ever seen. When we first toured it, every single room had a TV where the logo is floating from corner to corner on the TV, and they were all playing classical music. It was everything. I felt like the house was hard to look at but Laura was with us and she talked me into it. She was like, this is the one. You can make this into something. She was right. It was the best learning experience of my life as far as like it was a big lesson because I did a lot of mistakes. I got really overwhelmed at a certain point where I had to borrow some money for our business because I didn’t have enough money to pay for all the things I started. It was like messed up for a little while. Then it turned out to be the best learning project of my life because I, first of all, I learned that like, I didn’t really know how to renovate. I thought I knew how to renovate because I had decorated rooms before.

Emma: Watched a lot of HGTV?

Elsie: Yes, watched a lot of HGTV, changed out a counter or two and I thought I knew how to renovate. I learned from this what a big commitment it really is, how to schedule it. We talked about it before in other episodes, but Ting mentored me through it and really helped me learn what it is to renovate. Now I have a lot more of an adult perspective about renovating. We’ve shared some of those in past episodes, like the fails and stuff, but I feel like it was overall great.

Emma: We should have listeners if they want in the comments of the show notes, which is the abeautifulmess.com/podcast put what your memoir title could be.  They keep coming into my head as you’re telling more and more stories, and it’s always like in over my head, the story of Elsie Larson. Buring out, the story of Elsie Larson. I don’t know. It’s just gonna be a lot of really funny ones. I’m just trolling you, but like, I feel there’s a good one in there somewhere.

Elsie: Oh, man. Okay, that’s a fun game we can do. I like it. I like sharing the bad moments because I just think that, I mean people know that we have a lot of success now and that a lot of things went really well. I don’t want people to think that it was just like magic easy and it just happened because there were some bumpy spots along the way.

Emma: I’m trying not to like jump in because this is your story and you get to tell it and tell your perspective.

Elsie: I know I probably left a lot of things that because that’s how I felt with your story.

Emma: I was more good to say, like, I don’t really view failure in the same way that I did when I was 24. A lot of times when you’re like, oh, this was a failure, there’s a little piece of me that wants to be like, I don’t really view it that way. I think we learned this, this and this, and then it took us to the next level. That’s kind of how I think of all of it now. There are so many failures, and so many like, wow, I can’t believe we tried that, and wow, that really didn’t work. There are a ton of those. But I also like, I don’t know, something in my brain now at this stage in my life I’m just very like, I don’t really view any of it as a failure. I just kind of think this is how it happened and this is the path that I took to learn this thing that I needed to learn for the next step. I find that a much more valuable perspective than like, oh, I failed and then I picked myself up. Well, okay, you can even do it that way if you want but it just seems like such a, it seems like the thing that you should put at the end of a story. Each of these is just the beginning of the storya and it leads to the next.

Elsie: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean I don’t think that we would be who we are without those fails. We learned more from those than we did from our successes. I’m not even telling the story of putting out our first app in this whole thing because it’s boring because it was just like success and instant, everything worked, and it’s like, they would rather hear about how I had to borrow money from the business? 

Emma: Yeah, that’s true. That is more interesting. I mean, this is a fascinating memoir, you’re telling us because it’s all the low points.

Elsie: Well, I’m almost done because I know this is like too long. So we moved to Nashville, renovated our first home, it was so magical and special. I learned some good lessons. Then we finally finished renovating. We were kind of on this path where we were talking about kids, and we were trying to get pregnant. We decided that if we didn’t get pregnant by our fifth anniversary, then we would start the adoption process. We had kind of always been one of those couples who was like, we could have kids and adopt or either or they both sound great to me, and I mean, have biological kids is what I meant. So anyway, we got to our fifth anniversary, we celebrated and then a week or two later, we were like, okay, well, I guess we’ll just start this process and we did. As soon as we started and it was instant, I knew that we were never going to look back. I knew that we didn’t need to have biological kids or want to have biological kids anymore. It just felt like our adoption was just 100% our path and that never changed. So yeah, we adopted two kids in two years. Which is I don’t even think it’s possible for most people. It is not a normal adoption timeline. I think a lot of people would think of it as a miracle. I do, how it worked out especially before COVID and with everything that’s happened with people not being able to travel to China for the past almost two years now. So anyway, we adopted two kids, and now we’re starting to renovate our dream house and are like we’re here, it’s now the story. Still things are happening, but I hope that the craziest fails are in our past, but I’m sure there’s probably a few.

Emma: Oh, no, I think we definitely have a few more in us. I don’t know what they are but we do.

Elsie: Probably that, what’s that movie called with the bookstore? 

Emma: You’ve got mail. 

Elsie: Yeah, probably our You’ve Got Mail bookstores is our next fail. Although if you don’t expect it to make money, then how can you fail? I kind of want to do a business that’s just like something to make my community cuter.

Emma: Well you know I want to do my weird golf course, my putt-putt golf course. you know I want to do that. I would like it to make money but whatever.

Elsie: Yeah, we’re super, super, super, super grateful and I hope that comes through. I think the best stories are kind of like the sad ones and the bad ones because, at the time, they’re so devastating. Then now looking back, it’s funny, which is so weird how that happens. 

Emma: It’s true. Yeah. 

Elsie: Hey, well, thanks for listening. I feel like we either really bonded or everyone’s like, judging me and confused about how I got here. See you next week.

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  • Loved both of the life map episodes! I’ve been following since right before Elise moved to TN but didn’t have a lot of the history of the store, etc so it was fun to hear everything from the beginning!

  • Agree- this episode was so inspiring! I love both Elsie and Emma’s positivity and willingness to be be so vulnerable. I admire you both tremendously!!

  • Enjoy your life story. I have been following your blog for more than 10 years and I still got your scrapbooking products at my home. 🙂

  • Love the pod! My suggestion for a memoir title would be one of Elsie’s quotes from a previous episode: “If You Come for My Sister, I Will Kill You.”

  • LOVE that Elsie didn’t sugar coat the tough times! Soooo encouraging to hear your stories of the IRS, borrowing from your biz, and other times you were discouraged and/or broke! 😄 My hubbs & I have been through some excruciatingly tough financial times in the past with our own business and also renovating a 1970s house as well! And it makes me feel so much better to know that others have had scary times as well, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of! My hubbs is an Enneagram Seven — super enthusiastic, loving, amazing, big dreamer and getter-doner like you, Elsie! And I’m an Enneagram One — so sometimes I can really freak out about how we did things “wrong” in the past. SO great hearing your real stories of failures & successes! I’ve been following ABM since before you were both married, and I’m absolutely loving getting to know you two better through the podcast! Keep up the great work, Elsie & Emma! 🌟💕🥰

  • Okay, that was great. I loved the realistic human element of like “I don’t know, I was working at Hobby Lobby, then I did this thing.” It was inspiring to see how you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. It just made it feel very relatable and you two are so approachable. Much appreciated.

    I also love “failure” stories so I want your memoir to be something like “Success stories are boring–a collection of failures. Love, Elsie”

  • I went to your store Red Velvet when I was 17ish (I’m 26 now) we drove from KC and my car literally broke down in the Walmart parking lot 😂 it was pouring rain and we got a tow and got it fixed and went shopping just to drive straight back that afternoon.
    I STILL have the dress I bought from you but I’ve never worn it. 😜
    One of my favorite memories, we rushed to come after you announced it was going to close. It was such a memorable trip!

  • Thank you Elsie for sharing the good and the bad. The happy and the failures along the way.

  • One of the things I admire most about Elsie is how when she decides she wants to do something- she does it. No hesitation about if she can or if she should or if she deserves it. That kind of enthusiasm and energy is what I want for myself and it is inspiring to watch. Also to know it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Maybe her memoir could be titled something like Living Life with Enthusiam: With Elsie Larson.

  • I loved this episode so much! I’ve been following along since I was 19 or so (I’m 31 now), and listening to this episode honestly felt like a trip down my own memory lane! I remember Elsie getting married, and Emma joining on, I remember the Red Velvet shop and when you all got your matching tattoos. And I just want to say thank you for being such constant inspiration and motivation for me my whole life. You helped me decorate my first apartment, you were there when I was experiencing college burnout and needing an escape, you motivated me when I took the leap to start my own business, and you guided me in my first big renovation.

    I remember so many of these big moments– and even though we’ve never “met” I really feel like you were my big sisters all this time. <3 <3

    • I feel the same way, Bitty! I started reading this blog in 2010 – almost 12 years ago! Thank you Emma and Elsie for keeping at it for so many years. I love that you still love blogging so much and don’t want to stop, I hope we can all grow old together 🙂 And I really, really hope you will always do this podcast, it’s my very favorite thing! I love your outlook on life!

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