(Story and photos are reprinted by permission from Living Art Blog)
It is no secret that I love Diggin' It. Many times I have said that I was going to stop by for a minute to check out the new goodies that are always coming in and say hi to Tracey and I have ended up staying the whole day!
The ever changing, always fun collection of items for sale aside, a big reason that I love Diggin' It and can easily spend an entire day there is Tracey Collins. Tracey is hilarious and loves to talk ... to anyone ... about almost anything. So I was thrilled when Tracey agreed to be my first Innovative Individual and, surprise, surprise, doing the interview meant spending the day with Tracey at Diggin' It. Yeah!
A little background information: Tracey is the youngest of three sisters and grew up in Tulsa, Okla. She has a degree in horticulture from Oklahoma State University and is the mother of a gorgeous daughter who is a biology teacher at one of the high schools in McKinney.
First job: Tracey's first real job out of college was for the Trusthouse Forte Hotel. "I loved it because the people had come from all over." Tracey got to create beautiful floral displays throughout the hotel and maintained all of the living plants. She stayed on after the hotel was sold before getting married and having the aforementioned gorgeous daughter.
What happened next: While raising her daughter, Tracey stayed in the flower game by helping out parttime doing wedding flowers for a local shop, but she "always wanted a little garden retail shop out of an old gas station. I don't know why a gas station, it was probably because there was this funky garden shop in an old gas station in Tulsa and I loved it."
Tracey's new groove: A major life change gave Tracey just the push she needed to follow her dream and open her own shop. During the final stages of her divorce Tracey got a sign ... literally. There was a closed bus station near Tracey's house in the historic district of McKinney and one day a "For Rent" sign went up in the window, which quickly changed to a "For Sale" sign, and Tracey had her shop! Tracey originally envisioned Diggin' It as primarily a plant and garden shop, but it quickly expanded to include classes, clothing, gift items, not to mention beautiful vintage pieces, including a working slot machine, and works of art from lots of local artists.
Artists' mecca: When asked how she knows so many different artists, Tracey said, "A lot of artists have found me." Diggin' It now sells jewelry, oil pastel word mandalas, mixed medium collage pieces, one of a kind pieces of art made from a variety of upcycled materials, pottery, paintings and more. There are also a variety of metal art pieces from several artisans in Mexico. A local artist, Carolyn Hewitt, even painted beautiful labyrinths of her own design on the floors of both the shop and the classroom.
Need some training: Tracey has turned the living quarters area attached to the old bus station into a classroom area. Diggin' It has classes on almost everything – garden classes (including Landscape for Life taught by yours truly), jewelry making classes, craft classes (including mosaic and knitting/crochet classes), art classes (including painting and word mandala classes), inspiration, spiritual, and health classes (including vision board, drum circles, and yoga classes), plus so much more.
Favorite things and a little learnin': Tracey’s favorite part of owning Diggin' It is "meeting people I never would have crossed paths with otherwise that are really good friends now." She gets to spend her days meeting and talking to people. There has been some trial and error, but to insure that Diggin' It continues to grow and evolve Tracey has learned that she has to stay true to the funky, fun vibe of the store. It's what makes Diggin' It so special and unique.
Keep on keepin' on: Tracey has big plans for Diggin' It. She has already started work on making the garage space usable. She's got a lot of ideas for the space but hasn't quite landed on one yet. There is also a backyard area that she would like to turn into a venue, additional sales space, and/or demonstration gardens. "I just need a few more hours in the day." Whatever these new spaces turn out to be Tracey is so thankful for the great neighbors and friends that have helped her make Diggin' It the neighborhood shop that it is. From the friend who helped design the logo, the friend and neighbor who printed her signs, the local artists who sell and teach, to the customers, "Diggin' It is in the neighborhood, of the neighborhood. They have all contributed to me doing something that I dig for the past four years."
And as a thank you Tracey is giving everyone who mentions this interview and 10% discount through Dec. 31, 2014 (discount cannot be applied to any consignment items). I think you should tell Tracey that you were diggin’ her interview on Living Art!
About the author: Elizabeth (Beth) Matlock is a native Texas artist based in McKinney, Texas. Beth found her love of art early in life and turned that into a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art. After that she spent nearly three years studying in New Zealand before coming back to Texas where she finished her Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture. Beth's Flora and Fauna series combines her love of nature and her passion for art. The evocative photographs are reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe and her digital art is inspired by the gilded age of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. One of her pieces, “Lupinus texensis and Coccinella septempunctata,” was chosen as one of the 43 finalists, out of over 100 entries, to be displayed in the first annual Juried Art Show put on by the Arts and Music Guild at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Beth has recently started a blog where she has begun to share her art with the world wide web, LivingArt-ArtPhotography.blogspot.com. She is also starting a landscape blog and a garden club. For more information on Beth's art, landscape designs, and/or garden club, please e-mail her at LivingArt.ArtPhotography@gmail.com or call 972-542-9036. Various prints are available at Diggin' It in McKinney and Fine Art America.