As you may know, I started a project called Inspira(shown) a few months ago! You can read about it here - but basically it’s an opportunity for everyone to nominate inspirational people in their lives for a free photoshoot! At the end of each month I select one winner and take pictures telling their story!
Tracy Curtis was my winning nominee for April.
Her story begins over a decade ago with an unexpected divorce and a decision to move her two middle-school aged daughters to Sisters, Oregon – 7-hours away from their previous home. She had been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years. Now, in a new town, she had no choice but to start work as a house-cleaner in order to support her family.
Tracy worked tirelessly, but after several years she was able to save enough to purchase her own home.
But it was no ordinary home. It was a home to be shared.
You see, as her daughters grew older and went to college, Tracy opened her doors to the small community and took anyone in who needed a place to stay; a newlywed couple, a family friend attending college, anyone who just needed a little extra help. Even as the economy stressed Tracy’s modest income, she always pushed to support the people around her before herself.
These days, when Tracy isn’t spending time with her family or cleaning houses, you can usually find her tucked away in her studio, cutting burlap or beading jewlery into beautiful pieces of wearable art. Her passions for her community and the planet have led her to start her own small sustainable business, known as Ballokai. She creates gorgeous hand-crafted bags and accessories from recycled and reclaimed materials, working with nearby businesses and people to give back to the local economy.
So basically, if you are following all of this… Tracy is amazing.
But I think that Tracy’s oldest daughter Jenna describes her best with these words:
“Tracy Curtis is truly unique, from selflessly opening up her home, to maintaining ethical business practices in a culture of corporate greed, to giving everything of herself to anyone who asks and expecting nothing in return, her life story is inspiring. This story is representative of women everywhere and the strength, courage and creativity they can find in the face of life altering experience. I consider myself truly honored to call her my mother and cannot express what an impact she has had on my life. She inspires me to be a better person, to selflessly care for others, to give back to my community, and not only can I make it through tough times but that I can rise above them.”
Reading all this, seeing how incredibly selfless this woman is, made me 100% know in my heart that I had to drive to Sisters to photograph her family and her business. To finally give back to her.
Tracy, it’s your turn now.
And of course, I had Tracy give me a thorough tour of her little studio where all the magic happens!
Thank you Tracy, Jenna and Laura for sharing your story with me! I had sooooo much fun spending two days with you in Sisters! I love you guys!