Thank you for checking out my about page! We all have a story. Everyone could write a book!
I married my high school sweetheart Fritz at 19.
We built our first home at 22, had our first daughter at 23, the second girl at 25.
Fritz worked for the family machining business, Maurer Metal Craft and I was a hairdresser. At 29, we bought a hair salon.
I was very good at doing bridal hairstyles and was discovered at a hair show.
I was asked to teach at an advanced academy, training stylists in how to do bridal and special occasion work. Within my career I performed at hair shows, did magazine photo shoots, and created teaching videos. My first book was for stylists and salon owners who desired to specifically market the bride. Milady Publishing published The Business of Bridal Beauty in 1996.
Two years later, I blew out my ACL playing a mean game of Church volleyball. I had surgery. While recovering, and facing the reality of not being able to stand for long hours, I thought; “How could I do hair once and sell it over and over?”
The Internet! I found a web master, laid out $6,000 and had weddinghair.com created. This was in 1998. I photographed all of my hair styles step by step, and sold them as “hair kits,’ all over the word. Thousands of them. Below, is a bride from India who bought one of my kits #1309 and sent me this photo of her hairstyle!
I made my own backdrop sets, floral bouquets, headpieces, and fake wedding gown “tops”.
I had the privilege of working with a lot of talented people and learned from them about professional make-up application, posing models, basic Photoshop and more. This was the days of coding websites, no Facebook or YouTube….
I found models everywhere, Staples, the grocery store, church and talked them into letting me do their hair and photograph them. I wrote articles, did videos (VSH) produced CD’s, magazine shoots and in 2002 won “The Best Beauty Website” by Brides Magazine.
I expanded into making hair ornaments to sell and built an Etsy store.
In 2001 I left the salon world and went full time into freelance weddings on location. I belonged to professional networking organizations and eventually was doing weddings in NYC, CT, Boston, Newport RI.
This is my second book The Morning of Your Wedding.
This book is a compilation of all that I saw happen during the wedding morning. No other book addresses these first important hours of the wedding morning because no one has ever seen them unfold except the first person on scene and that is the stylist. It was simply crazy and fascinating. A very interesting read.
This book covers all the different locations a wedding morning occurs and the unique situations that arise at each. Plus, tips on navigating the people, details, packing, and planning for a smooth morning!
For three years I also volunteered haircuts at our local homeless shelter and did make-overs on some of these precious people, even a wedding!
Just as my freelance business was getting traction and more press; issues with our eldest daughter took all of us in another direction. At 38 my husband had decided to go back to school to become a licensed Mental Health Counselor. 7 years of full time school, full time work with a troubled teen and another daughter who got lost in the chaos, proved to be too much to keep the bridal business going.
After years of dealing with severe ADHD issues, our eldest daughter entered a treatment program. The following fall we brought our younger daughter to college.
We now had an empty nest. Fritz was just about done with his Masters degree and we both were ready for a change!
The program our eldest attended was in the mountains of NH. We saw that they needed a professional counselor. This was a missionary position which means no salary. We were ready for an adventure!! God was strong on our hearts affirming this decision.
Fritz is on the left. We sold our home in CT and moved to NH to live with the residents and got to work.
The trauma, addictions, and broken lives we encountered in the precious people in our care was life changing for us as well as them. I worked as a Trauma class mentor and Inner Healing Phase Two teacher. I am an abuse survivor myself.
I also enjoyed taking residents and staff wardrobe shopping, teaching them about their body types, Image and self-esteem.
Here are some guys baking pie for Thanksgiving with Fritz.
I quickly became know for my beauty & crafting skills and interior design. I did haircuts for staff and make-overs on residents upon graduation. I still kept weddinghair.com going and started a jewelry line.
One day after being there for a few months I got a phone call. It was a bridal television program asking if I wanted to be on a bridal reality show. I was like (in my head), “Now? Now you call me”?
At some level I felt like I was spared a lifestyle that was not my destiny. We were in a particular season of our life. We grew, matured and never looked back.
To try to supplement our ministry “income” we decided to use the proceeds from the sale of our CT house and bought a fixer-upper to rent out. A 1971 chalet in a small lake community. We worked on that for two years with wonderful help from friends, residents and mentors in the program. It was a great work experience and a huge risk. By Gods grace and a ton of hard work we pulled if off!
All of the interior were Craig’s list deals: Appliances, used kitchen cabinets, tile, windows, doors, furniture and rough cut wood we milled ourself.
Bathroom Before (right off the kitchen yuck!)
The desk and light fixtures were Craig’s list, the sink… a floor model deal!
More before and afters here:
We were going to stay in Ministry and rent out the house as a vacation home but both of us became terribly burned out. We had been serving for over 6 years and I was suffering from compassion fatigue. This led to panic attacks and then depression for which I needed medication for six months. My husband was in burnout.
So, we had to move into that ” rental” home and figure life out. At that point it was still unfinished and without heat but we had a month before the cold weather would set in.
Fritz got a job at a private residential group home and I took a home health aid job. We continued to worked on the house weekends.
I always loved interior design and made-over a number of the interiors at the ministry & as well as homes of friends.
I was enamored by HGTV design shows! I applied and got an interview in NYC for The White Room Challenge. I had some TV experience being interviewed a few times for my book … but the show soon ended.
While somewhat settled in and still working on the house, we got a phone call. Another residential program was opening in CT and they were given Fritz’s name. This was a chance to start a private counseling practice in the state he was licensed in and be closer to family in CT..
Truly, as I was listening to Fritz on the phone, God’s spirit leapt in my gut and I knew we were moving again. We consulted long distance while finishing the rehab, and one year later we moved back to CT.
They had housing for us there, but again no salary. Yes, we walked away from all that work we did. For one year we rented our NH home to a single mom and her son, followed by another family of five in need of respite. Then we sold it for a profit. Phew……
At the CT residential group home, we lived as house parents in a lovely one bedroom apartment attached to the resident’s house. I ran a life skills class, cooked for the men and decorated the place.
Plus, I side hustled again. I went to yard sales and fixed stuff up to resell at a space I was renting in a shop.
We got busy helping to create and run the new program, took in men and started our private practice in a local church. Our agreement with this new recovery home was to work with them for 6 months to a year, 1 ½ years later we stepped full-time into our private practice!
Fritz was able to get some remote engineering work on line while our practice grew. I entered the world of social media for our new business.
After our NH house sold, we were able to look for one in CT. I was open to a non-conventional home. Nothing in my life was ever conventional, so why start!
We were led to an amazing 1930’s Grange Hall to rehab (yes again!) into a work/home space. This is a historical property we bought from the town. The rehab is nearly finished! Even the local paper came and did a story on us…there is a good story in everyone! I will post photos when it is done. Here are a few:
We had to rebuild the foundation under the front. With rocks 🙂
All that on the floor is squirrel poop!! See that hole to the top left? Yup, their front door! All the cavities behind the walls were nests to mice, squires and one little bat and guess who cleaned them out!
Now our Mental Health Practice and Coaching business is growing, we are doing seminars, workshops and branching into webinars. I am learning social media, website design, snapping, chatting, posting and pinning!! I love it! None of this was around the first time I had an on-line business.
My (Gretchen’s) YouTube channel is here.
I still am working on a few things, always an entrepreneurs life! But I think I have settled into a niche that fits-for now!
I loved the process of writing my books, and I am experimenting with course creation!
My first course is live! How to Create A Signature Gallery Wall that Wows!
Here is my Facebook group, Gallery Wall Tips & Ideas
Well if you got this far, you are amazing! Blessings to you and your Calling!
Please reach out to see how we can be of service to you or your organization!