A year ago this month I started the online shop, TudorFair.com. And to celebrate, I decided to add a blog to this site. Because I need more projects in my life :) Anyway, back in September 2017 I had been podcasting on Renaissance England for eight years at that point, struggling to figure out whether I could actually make money from my passion. I had heard about people selling products related to their niche, and decided to give it a try for my area.
I wanted to create the kind of online shop where I would want to spend my time. I modeled it on my favorite online store, Modcloth, and I filled it with the products I wanted to buy. Leggings with the Six Wives. T-shirts with my favorite Tudors, but still relevant and cool, like the Tudor Love Shirt that has a Tudor Rose where the O should be. Even products that hinted at politics, like the Elizabeth I The Future Has Always been Female shirt. I wanted to create something that said TudorAF because I wanted to wear it myself. Irreverent products, like the "Putting the Nasty in Dynasty since 1485" shirt.
Over the past year I filled this shop up with products I designed myself (or worked with a designer with for the more complicated designs) and it has unleashed a flurry of creativity that I didn't even know I had. I have a list of about 100 more items I want to design and create, and I add to it every day!
I also started the Treasures from Bess subscription box, because basically it was something I wanted to buy. I kept seeing ads for subscription boxes for kids toys (because I have a little one), or make up, or any number of things, and I thought, "why isn't there a Tudor subscription box?" So I created one.
A year on, I'm so grateful to everyone who has purchased something, and has given me the opportunity to bring my sense of irreverence and quirkiness to an area I'm deeply passionate about: connecting people across time through history.
If you don't know much about me, my first job in high school was as a student docent at a Revolutionary War museum. I built my first website about history way back in 1998. It was on Colonial America, and it reached number one on Yahoo when people searched for history (this was pre-Google, of course!). I've been blogging since 2002. And I started my podcast in 2009. History has been my passion since I first read the Little House on the Prairie books in elementary school.
And it's not just the stories about history, though they're great, of course. But it's the way themes that were important in 1533 still resonate with us. What is the role of government in peoples' every day lives? What are the rights of individuals when balanced against the needs of the state? How does one compartmentalize their deeply held personal beliefs about God and the Divine, and work with people who believe something completely different? If a person is loyal to a religious system that seems at odds with the government, where does their loyalty actually lie?
These are questions that I seek to explore through my podcast, and on the forthcoming radio station we're setting up, the Tudor Radio Network, where I'm going to have a program looking at current events through the lens of history. These questions, and themes, bind us together. They are threads that have been woven through humanity, since the Cognitive Revolution, and continue to affect us today as we grapple with the same great themes and questions.
So, one year on since I opened my shop with four designs (the Kickass Tudor Women collection) and the Anne Boleyn B Necklace, I'm thrilled and excited to welcome you to this little eCommerce space where we have fun and play with history, while continuing to recognize its meaning and impact on our lives today, and our eternal connection with those people in whose footsteps we trod.
"We are not makers of history. We are made by history." - Martin Luther King, Jr.