Bonjour Mes Amies! I'm Tonya and welcome to Olivia & Ruby...
O+R is the result of a life spent drawing, sewing, making, planning, dyeing, visiting, beading, envisioning, painting, cutting, and decorating, and dreaming. It's a modern lifestyle brand with vintage sensibilities. Part old, part new, but always grand.
Our core products today are bath & body luxuries made from natural ingredients. I also have a fascination with all things that go on your head so I also design and make hats, fascinators, and hair accessories. Naturally, since our ability to accessorize is the only thing that separates us from animals - I also design jewelry and have crafted a collection of pins made from feather, flowers, and fabric. O+R also has a few artistic cards, art, home decor pieces, and the occasional Christmas ornament thrown in for good measure.
Everything is made in my studio in Memphis, Tn. If you're in town, feel free to call and request a studio visit - I would love to meet you!
So who are Olivia & Ruby?
Born June 1917, Olivia Lee Morris was my maternal grandmother who was both creative and entrepreneurial. She was born with one leg shorter than the other one so she tipped when she walked but she did not allow this to hinder her. She was the only one of her nine surviving siblings to graduate from Carver High School in Brownsville, TN. She was an accomplished seamstress, prepared taxes, and most famously was the neighborhood Candy Lady.
After the death of husband Arthur on New Years’ Day 1963 Olivia was the sole support for her three teenage daughters. She moved to LeMoyne Gardens later in 1963 to ensure that the meager insurance settlement she received upon her husband’s death would last as long as possible. She wisely invested part of the money in helping her oldest daughter Thelma to complete her degree in education from LeMoyne-Owen College enabling her to become a teacher. Thelma, my mother, retired after 41 years of teaching mostly second grade in 2006.
In 1974 after living in public housing for over 10 years and seeing the neighborhood change Olivia, now a grandmother, began selling candy. Kids from all over LeMoyne Gardens would come to her house to buy Pickles, Lemon Heads, Freeze Cups, one-cent cookies, and all types of treats. With tenacity and a deep faith in God Olivia was able to save $10,000 as a down payment and bought her first home at age 63. She passed away four years later.
And this Ruby person?
The name Ruby is from the woman described in Proverbs 31 of the bible. She took great care of her family and could cook and sew but many people overlook the fact that she was also a businesswoman - an investor and entrepreneur. The author of Proverbs says that this type of woman is a rare find like rubies are. I looked it up and discovered that rubies are actually rarer and more valuable than diamonds. I think that both my grandmother Olivia and the woman in Proverbs 31 are rare jewels that are great role models for anyone to follow.