Christin's Tiny House Boutique Fund

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A little about my Boutique: Last Spring, I started a small secondhand folk art and vintage boutique called Wild Cat Sister's Heartsick Boutique in a corner of my friend Stu's consignment shop. The theme of my store was inspired by my love of cats and the power their companionship has had to heal and uplift my heart at critical times in my life.

Wild Cat Sister On Wheels: My vision for taking the Wildcatsister's Heartsick Boutique on the road, is to establish a platform to support the causes that are meaningful to me and to many others: nature conservation, art for youth, empowerment of women, and of course, cats! A percentage of proceeds per sale will benefit organizations that reflect the Wild Cat Sister Mission: Protect Wildlife, Support Youth in the Arts, Empower Girls and Women, and Worship Cats! ;) Through hosted sales, festivals, and events, people will have the opportunity to buy secondhand folk art, handmade treasures, and vintage cat and nature themed items that spark delight and contribute to the greater good of the planet. The Wild Cat Sister's business motto is to uplift wild, whimsical, and wonderous hearts. The items themselves make people smile and carry their unique charm from all over the world. It brings me so much joy to "rescue" these treasures and to give them a second life in my boutique and eventually in your homes.

A little about me: As a child I was drawn to native and handmade art and spent many hours on my own arts and crafts projects. I especially loved making gifts for friends and family that represented something unique and special about each person.  As a young adult, I had the remarkable opportunity to travel the world as a professional dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Everywhere we performed, I collected folk art to bring home as mementos. During those years, I started making art again with simple dance and nature themes, which sold at a folk art store in NYC and later Santa Fe, NM. I desperately missed my childhood connection to nature. The art I created, as well as the tiny community gardens I frequented throughout the city, soothed my heartsickness.Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor
Art Empowers and Heals: As a ballet instructor for over 12 years, I have witnessed the positive transformation that the arts can facilitate for young people, and particularly, for those struggling with confidence or going through difficult times. One of my goals as a teacher, is to promote an environment where students are nurtured for their individual strengths and where collaboration and team work is encouraged. In my own experience, having a suportive community through the arts is a powerful healing tool. One of my short term projects is to develop a program for other teachers that promotes my classroom philosophy.

Below is an excerpt from a student's testimonial:

"...Christin fostered a learning environment that encouraged peer to peer feedback and respect. Our peers helped us to grow, and didn't feel like people we needed to compete against. Christin promoted this type of atmosphere by modeling work ethic and kindness with each of us, thus creating a supportive community... " E.B.  Photo Credit: Paulo Tavares

Dreams: Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of owning land and building a sustainable home and lifestyle for myself. When I retired from the stage at 24, my intention was just that, along with developing as an artist, writer, dance teacher, and choreographer. One thing I have learned is that life never goes according to plan and has a way of guiding you to the places inside that need the most attention for growth. In my case, that meant facing some deep unresolved wounds that were bubbling to the surface, while navigating my new career on the other side of the dance profession. 
Healing and the Power of Truth: Like many families of my generation and those before, maintaining the perfect family image was paramount over exposing the reality of generational abuse. The prevailing belief system that somehow the woman is always to blame and the shame that stems from being a victim of physical and sexual assault, made it tough for my mother to reach out for the support she needed to protect herself and her children. So, instead, she did everything in her power to raise us as if everything was ok. Growing up, I carried the burden of this denial through perfectionism and the belief that I was never good enough-a hidden symptom of trauma, where accomplishments and people pleasing mask the suffering. This led to selflessness, over-responsibility, workaholism, and tolerance of abusive relationships as an adult.

Part of my recovery work over the years was to learn to set boundaries and put my needs first. It took courage and the support of helping professionals and trusted friends to break the silence and shine a light on the sexual abuse I was a victim of as a child. In doing so, I was able to take steps to overcome the destructive and codependent relationship patterns that had been consuming my adult life.
One of my favorite Rumi quotes is: "The wound is the place where the light enters you" And it is true; by embracing and integrating the painful emotions of my past, my life became lighter and more expansive. The anxiety, depression, and deep sense of isolation and separateness I experienced as a child and into adulthood began to dissipate. I attracted healthier and more supportive relationships, gained a greater sense of confidence, and started to feel more authentically, Me! 
My Journey: In 2013, I made a big decision to leave my directing and teaching career of 9 years and move from NM to Vermont to go back to college to study psychology. My intention was to expand my work to at-risk youth in the arts. Sadly, I was unable to complete my degree because the school, Burlington College, fell apart (and eventually shut down) due to financial instability. It was a shocking and confusing time. However, the year that I had there was one of the most enriching and transformative experiences of my life and set me on a new path of learning and self discovery. Unfortunately, I was also left with substantial student debt with a high interest rate that could not be refinanced.
Despite my disappointment and new financial burden, I got back on my feet, teaching ballet again and reinvisioning my future. During solo camping and hiking trips, I began to think about how I could combine my passions in a way that would not only sustain me, but inspire other people and help animals and the planet, while also affording me a home. I started dreaming of my own tiny home and researching the possibilities. When an opportunity to attend a tiny house workshop presented itself, I was on it! I learned some basic carpentry schools, but it also made me realize that I wanted to be more mobile. 

A home of my own: Buying an old camper two summers ago was a pivotal first step in manifesting my dream of a tiny home and traveling boutique. It was probably one of the most thrilling moments in my life. However, doing the work to renovate it changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. It gave me a tangible sense of purpose and also required that I learn new skills and sometimes ask for help- two areas that have not always been easy for me, especially coming from a perfectionist, do it yourself mindset.
If it wasn't for a couple of friends who truly believed in me and my vision, I might not have gotten as far with the project. I had no idea that I had a knack for designing and remodeling efficient spaces, but it turns out I did. Most of the initial carpentry I did on my own, with the guidance of my ex, who, fortunately for me, was a carpenter. I also put in new floors, painted the interior and exterior, as well as sealed the roof and sides.  It was challenging but extremely satisfying work!
Please visit my FB link for more photos of my camper project:  https://www.facebook.com/christin.severini/media_set?set=a.10212462516535438.1073741845.1157611582&type=3

Asking for help: This past summer I started getting discouraged and losing steam. I felt alone with the project, which was overwhelming considering all that still needed to get done. It was easier for me to focus on the design and decorative side of things. However, the detailed carpentry, conversion to solar, as well as making it as sufficient as possible(which meant adding a shower and bathroom) was starting to feel beyond my DIY capabilities. I also needed a new car in order to tow it, and money was getting very tight! For much of my life, I struggled with intense feelings of disempowerment. I only recently began to understand that these episodes were linked to isolation and lack of support growing up. I realized that if I was truly going to take up the reins of my life, I had to try a different approach, one that allowed help from others.  
It was stressful at first, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise when my old car of 12 years started falling apart and the cost of repairs were more than it was worth. It forced me to buy a new one! I reached out to friends (a growing skill) and got a recommendation to a dealership where I bought a used Subaru powerful enough to tow my camper.

Building Momentum: I finally had a breakthrough in the "help" department.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at hiring a carpenter, I responded to an ad for a handyman on craigslist.  Andrew turned out to not only be affordable, he was also just as passionate about renovating a vintage camper as I was! He had exceptional carpentry skills and a kind heart, to boot. It felt as though the universe had sent him just in the knick of time. 
So far, Andrew has been doing amazing work and has boosted my confidence and optimism in the project. One of the most exciting moments was when he carved out my Wild Cat Sister logo to hang as my storefront sign. My traveling boutique was really starting to come to life.

Your Support:  Like I mentioned, I have never been very good at asking for help, but this is a time in my life when I could really use some financial support. I have done my very best to be as efficient as possible: buying used when I could, holding yard sales, selling things as I downsized, saving rent by living in a community house, and taking on extra work. I started the Wild Cat Sister business out of pocket but have recently turned to credit resources to keep it growing, and now with my  student debt and car loan, I no longer have extra cash to draw on. Rather than go deeper into debt, I am requesting financial assistance to complete the project before winter sets in. Unfortunately,  Andrew will be leaving town in a couple of months, so I only have a brief window of time to take advantage of his generous rates, skills, and knowledge! 
Please help me to get my tiny home and vision for the Wild Cat Sister Boutique off the ground and on the road! 

Here is a recent list of what still needs doing and purchases I hope to make: 
Approximate costs:
*Conversion to solar power- panel, battery, inverter, controller, other accessories $600✔️
*Thanks to your generous donations so far I have purchased my solar system set up today!
Items Ordered/Price:
1)POTEK 500W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Converter with Digital Display Dual AC Outlets and Dual USB Charging Ports for Tablets, Laptops and Smartphones:  $37.99
2)EPEVER Solar Charge Controller MPPT Control 10A/20A/30A/40A with 12V/24V DC Input (10A): $63.00
3) RENOGY 8ft. 10 AWG Wire Copper Tray Cable - Connect Charge Controller and Battery:$13.49
4) BougeRV 10 Feet 10AWG Solar Extension Cable with MC4 Female and Male Connector Solar Panel Adaptor Kit Tool (1 Pair): $21.98
5) ECO-WORTHY 160 Watt Polycrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel Module 12V Battery Charging: $164.99
6)New Authentic Original Battery, Authorized Dealer for Casil, FirstPower and Pro Power Batteries always fresh with 3 day shipping.$173.99
Total with Shipping, plus rewards discount: $444.45


Remaining Expenses:
Norcold NRF-30 portable fridge and freezer $570 ✔️
* The fridge is powered by the amazing solar system and battery!
Trailer hitch with trailer brake system and electrical installation $500
Awning for camper store front, plus poles $400
Closet to bathroom/shower conversion $300
New tire skirts $160
Buddy Propane Heater $80 ✔️
New vents- $60 ✔️
Coleman Classic Propane Stove $45✔️
Two -three weeks of labor $900-$1200
The total cost comes close to $4000, but I am asking for half as a starting point. On top of these expenses, my student debt from Burlington College is $24,000 which I pay monthly in addition to other bills, such as my car loan of $8,000. 
                                                   

To express my immense gratitude for your donations, I have put together items from my boutique as gifts. The holidays are near, and these one- of -a-kind treasures make wonderful presents!


Donation levels and gifts:
Donate $1-$19 You will receive my utmost gratitude and virtual hugs!!  

Donate $20-$75 You will receive 1-2 surprise boutique items in the $5-$10 price range

Donate $80-$195 You will receive 1-2 surprise boutique items in the $10-$15 price range

Donations of $200 or more You will receive a $50 gift card to Wild Cat Sister's Boutique

If you live out of town, a surprise item or several items making up the $50 value will be shipped to you. 

For those who live locally, please pick up your item at the Wild Cat Sister's Boutique located inside Battery Street Jeans: 115 College Street, Burlington, VT. 

Gratitude: I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read my story and for your support. I am excited to see my vision unfolding and even more excited to share it with others. In this time of climate turbulance and tremendous suffering in general, I want to do my part in bringing something positive and meaningful to this world. My goal is to tread lightly, live simply, and dream BIG! My wish is to inspire others by spreading the message of hope and connection through the whimsical folk art I sell and through my tiny house lifestyle. I believe that each of us has the power to  change the world for the better when we are connected to our authenticity and to eachother. 

Final Thoughts:
Animals need us to protect them and this beautiful planet we all call home. Life without art would not be worth living; it touches and transforms so many lives and needs our support. Despite many hardships, I have been extremely fortunate to have powerful and nurturing women in my life, as guides and role models. Many of my female friends are also couragous survivors. My hope is that my healing and recovery work will inspire and support other women in their truth, as I continue to share my own story.

Last but not least: Ode to the ever loving, wise, and wild cats: My heart goes out to the cats in my life whom I can no longer hold and cuddle and to many others who have transformed my life in ways I am infinitely grateful for. They taught me to slow down, to listen to my body, to make time for play and exploration, to stay wild, and to trust my heart. I would not have survived this life, thus far, without them.
Here's to wild, whimsical, and wondrous hearts and to the Wild Cat Sister's Heartsick Boutique~On Wheels!
Hope to be traveling to you soon!
@wildcatsister Facebook and Instagram

The video below is from a ballet I choreographed (with the collaboration of students) for Moving People Dance Theatre in NM. The theme was inspired by the years I lived in NYC. I wanted to portray how our interactions with others weave a story, whether we are aware of it or not, and the comedy and drama that can unfold when we are too busy to stop and truly connect with eachother:

Lost Connections
Choreography: Christin Severini
Music: Aaron Severini
Dancers: Moving People Dance Theatre

  • Laura McCormick 
    • $25 
    • 44 mos
  • Heather Friedrichsen 
    • $20 
    • 44 mos
  • Tamara Bates 
    • $268 
    • 44 mos
  • Dana Sardet 
    • $200 
    • 44 mos
  • Kelly DeSantos 
    • $100 
    • 44 mos
See all

Organizer

Christin Severini 
Organizer
Burlington, VT
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