How bits of glitter and a pink pom-pom promise solidarity and hope
photograph by venera alexandrova
You know the type: talkative and overflowing with energy. The kind of person who makes eye contact, laughs easily, walks a complete stranger around a room in a welcoming way, and shares her own story in a startlingly unguarded way. Aside from having a name perfect for a novelist, Alexandra Wallace-Currie is an extroverted, go-getting Fairfielder who enthuses creativity—and her mission is not found tapped out along a writer’s cold keyboard but, rather, in a pink, fluffy pom-pom. She’s irresistibly charming.
SPACE WITH PURPOSE
I met Alex shortly after she opened her new retail shop, called a little square LLC (purposely lowercase), on the second-floor of a loft space in downtown Fairfield. Located on the edge of the bustling central shopping-and-dining district, the venture is easy to get to yet a step off the beaten path. In other words, parking was a breeze. I found the stairs on the side of the building and climbed, not sure what to expect. But when I turned the corner and parted a curtain, yes, a theatrical curtain, the scene inside the shop was pure cheer. For one, the ceiling soars to some twenty feet. And the windows run a equally good height, at about twelve feet—they bathe the shop in natural light. Alex has left the red-brick walls exposed but recently glossed the wood floor to a high sheen—so high that as I walk from a stack of toddler girl coats to a rack of vintage magic kits, I worry about my heels are leaving marks. But mostly I’m aware of abundant space. I can breathe. Not every nook and cranny is packed and stacked and piled high with stuff. The empty space is valued in and of itself—its own entity, with its own purpose. It means there’s more than what is seen or spoken and creativity has space to spread its beautiful wings.
Isn’t that the point? Alex’s business is a two-part operation (don’t try to restrict this busy lady with formal expectations—after all, her Louis Vuitton bag sits next to a speaker rocking Stevie Ray Vaughn). Part one of the business, a little square, is a retail space, selling unique toys, accessories, gifts, craft materials and the most “awwwh!”-inspiring fashions for babies and children. Fluffy coats come in kitten-soft leopard prints but there’s also frocks with dainty buttons and ribbons—the kind of looks that make proud moms and dads dash for the camera. Alex gravitates to finds that are contemporary but nostalgic, too (hence, the name, a little square). This clever quip alone makes me appreciate Alex—but there’s more. The other part of her business, called The Pink Pom-Pom Project, is about crafting sessions for anyone who wants to dig into mounds (OK, meticulously arranged boxes and baskets) of yarn, glitter, fabrics, ribbons, buttons, and such. Alex reserves a special welcome (and sessions) for those who have been affected by cancer.
“We have had such a huge success so far and The Pink Pom-Pom Project has been well received already within the community. In fact, we had thirty-five Girl Scouts plus their mothers come in and decorate holiday ornaments and star toppers, but, better yet, they made more than seventy lavender sachets for cancer survivors at the CT Challenge Cancer Survivorship Center in Southport,” notes Alex. “Tomorrow, these ladies will be receiving them during their own private Stitch & Bitch event.”
Alex is talking about a get-together for those undergoing treatment and need a place to socialize with those who understand and find a certain therapy in doing crafts. “I’m from Texas, so we say things like that,” she says laughing, “but I might have to change it to Stitch & Dish.” Alex knows what she’s offering here—it kept her going during her own bout with breast cancer.
“Cancer is falling into an abyss,” she says. “I stopped thinking about the future.” Her eyes well up; it was only two years ago. She explains that during treatment it was dangerous to get sick, so she stayed in and got busy, ultimately, finding her niche in crafting. She had knit a hat with a pink pom-pom that had became such a hit, it blossomed into a company about group crafting, knitting classes, creative writing, and all sorts of get-togethers. “Cancer is terrifying, because you’re so alone,” Alex says, heartsick for those experiencing what she calls “the saddest lonely.” She adds, “As Americans, we believe it takes a village, and in Fairfield people are willing to drop everything to help.” One of her new friends is Jeff Keith, founder of CT Challenge. “After treatment, nobody talked to me about my future, but CT Challenge teaches you beyond the disease. Everyone there is educated about post-cancer care…Like muscle-loss—they know how to train with that in mind…Besides they have the most interesting fundraisers, like that Band Together concert—it was unbelievable!”
She quickly stitches an edge of fabric, explaining that she was denied anti-nausea medicine during treatment; she relied on the relaxing aroma of fresh lavender. She pulls the thread, creating a pouch, which she stuffs with the flower and ties shut. She puts the sachet atop of a pillow sized to cuddle under an arm during chemo. Comfort and nurture, handmade.
POWER OF COLOR
Alex doesn’t “do” black-and-white—color is life. Some of the comfy seating in the group area are chic white, others as bright as a juicy tangerine. No monochromatic nonsense here—not when happiness can pop. “You’re supposed to see it and laugh,” she says, brightly. The bolts of designer fabrics here and there feature a range of prints, each as adorable as the next. I want to see them turned into domestic bliss: dresses, aprons, curtains. Like sewing, knitting, crocheting. Like glue, glitter, scissors, buckets of yarn. Put together in Alex’s dream, they are a vision of unlimited potential, with a lot of talking and laughter. It’s like Steel Magnolias with a pink pom-pom to take home.
More at thepompomproject.com