She made a Tooth Fairy Pillow for Great Britain’s Prince George (William and Kate’s firstborn) and a Christmas stocking for Dusty Hill, base player for ZZ Top.
My friend Jan Cook has one of the most creative and unique retirement gigs I’ve seen.
This former Special Ed teacher and now agent in her husband’s financial service company calls what she does “Heirloom Sewing,” heirloom because she makes everything from antique, vintage materials, “which,” says Cook, “makes them instant heirlooms.”
I want to know how the royal couple found her in Midland, Texas. Cook’s answer is long and involves friends, ambassadors and newspapers, but, suffice it to say, she has been written up in both the French and British press.
By the way, the prince’s pillow was made of materials from Greece, plus a piece of lace from Princes Di, which had been in her family since the 1760s. Cook said it took five days to complete. Afterwards, this West Texas seamstress received a “lovely thank you letter” from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Cook says wedding garters (a favorite of her customers) take about an hour to craft, personalized pillows about 15-20
hours and covered wedding albums can take up to 60 hours. Yep, she is one busy lady, but, she says, she has yet to turn business away. “It’s not just a business but a passion,” she tells me. “I work a lot, but” (as she grins) “it keeps me off the street and out of bars.”
Lately, I’ve been impressed with Cook’s perseverance. 2019 was a tough year for her. In addition to the illness and death of people close to her, she suffered a life-threatening, poisonous spider bite that put her in the hospital for 12 days. “I can state unequivocally that the Lord just saw me through the year,” she says.
Cook’s faith seems to be the key to both her craft and attitude. She tells me she is a “glass-half-full” kind of person. Despite her recent troubles, she talks about how blessed she has been by family and friends. “All of this, plus a business I love, makes me get up in the morning. Every day is a gift from God, and I want to live it to the fullest.”