One of our local multihyphenates, Brooke Hamilton Benjestorf, is a mother-wife-maker-boss babe-activist. Brooke is one of the founders of the Blush Society, a new local organization that is designed to empower and connect women. She is mom to two-and-a-half-year-old Harry, and she and her husband Jason have another little one on the way. Brooke is also the owner of a custom patch embroidery Esty shop called Spirit Animal Stitching. Though motherhood, business ownership and organizational leadership are relatively new to her resume, this is not a tale of transformation. Her story is about living out her values in everything she does here in Loveland. We sat down with Brooke recently at Muse Coffee & Tea in Loveland.
In March 2017 you launched Spirit Animal Stitching – what was the catalyst for that?
I wanted to figure out how I could work and be home with Harry at the same time. I had been hand embroidering since I was a teenager, and my sister-in-law (who is amazing – a total gift of marrying into this family!) suggested that I invest in an embroidery machine. My husband Jason and I took the leap and bought the machine and software.
I have always felt like it was important to express myself. So, allowing other people to express themselves has been the underlying motivation of it all and that feels so right to me. It feels good when someone buys a patch that says, “Ban Hate” and I know that they’re excited to put it on their jacket. Love is the only answer.
Tell us about the Blush Society.
Local floral designer Lucy Waneka and I were at our photographer friend Caitlyn Steuben’s baby shower, and we were talking about how so many of our friends own their own businesses AND are these powerful creative women. I said: “Let’s start a club!” And things went quickly from there! I thought maybe we’d get 50 people to come to our first event in September 2018, but more than 200 people came. Now, there’s a series of different types of gatherings – Blush Creates, Blush Inspires, Blush Book Club and Blush Mothers. The Blush Mothers has been my favorite thing. To discuss our lives honestly feels so good – it makes me a more confident mother and business owner.
You touched on how the women you know are entrepreneurs or have small businesses – do you think that’s a factor of place do you think it’s a factor of generation?
I think generation, and also a very specific space and time. Almost every mom I know wants both things – they want to have their own fulfillment and work andthey want to be with their kids. For me, having my own creative project and being able to have a family at the same time is worth all the stress and all the complications that it brings with it.
I also think our community is very locally minded – they like shopping local, and there’s a lot of local events. There are also a lot of strong women in this community – that’s why we made Blush – it was just so evident that they were everywhere. Women are the catalyst for huge things.
What are your favorite places to go in Loveland with Harry?
The Civic Center is awesome – we live a block away so we will walk over there and do storytime at the library and go play with the ducks and the geese. I also go to the Post Office most days to deliver Spirit Animal Stitching orders and everyone at the post office loves Harry, so that makes it fun for him. The whole way there he’s like “Carl! Pat! Carl! Pat!”
Live Loveland’s mission is to celebrate, engage and unify our community. Which of those actions do you think Loveland needs the most and how do you think we as a community can manifest it?
The more you engage in something the more you want to be a part of it. I certainly know that when we started Blush is when I really started feeling part of this community. And I feel that from other people who have joined. I’d love to see more opportunities like Blush. Once you start to gather with people who are supportive, you realize how much you need it. Until you get that first taste of connection, you don’t realize how thirsty you were for it.
By Jessica Moskwa Hawkins, Dec 11, 2018