The Story Behind The Story
Where Do Good Ideas Come From?
Nancy and I try to visit Monhegan Island at least once each summer. Monhegan is 10 miles off the coast of Maine. Electricity costs enough there that laundry still dries on clothes lines. Colorful shirts, towels, jeans and t-shirts can be seen on sunny days throughout the village. Monhegan is a place where lobster men actually live – lobster traps, buoys, and rope, line the alley ways and traps fill side yards and backyards. On the island the roads are gravel, there are no cars, and only a few dozen pickup trucks. During the summer six daily round trips by mail boat and ferry keep a steady stream of over-nighters and day-trippers in a flow and rhythm of people hiking up from the dock and exploring through the village. There are two inns and several bed & breakfasts. This island has some of the most dramatic cliffs on the coast of Maine. Charming coves and hundreds (if not thousands) of sitting rocks are fabulous locations to watch the light on the water and see the waves rolling in. There are a series of hiking trails that lace through the uninhabited forests and a great trail circumnavigates the island. A day or week on Monhegan feels like going back in time 50 or 100 years. If you leave your electronics at home there’s nothing much to do except talk, read a book, and feel the passage of time. Monhegan is one of my favorite places in the world.
In the summer of 2010 we stayed for 3 days in August at the Trailing Yew on Monhegan. There was no electricity in the rooms- it’s either an oil lamp or a flash light at night. Nancy brought a book, What French Women Know (Nancy is French). There was a passage and a poem in the book referring to how little French girls do a daisy versus the standard approach of “He loves me, He loves me not” of English speaking girls.
"Il m'aime un peu.
Il m'aime beacoup.
Il m'aime passionnement.
Il m'aime a la foie.
Il ne m'aime pas du tout. "
"He loves me a little.
He loves me a lot.
He loves me passionately.
He loves me madly.
He loves me not at all."
An idea began to form. I gathered a bouquet of daisies from the edge of the property. We sat in the adirondacks and plucked and counted.
This is a copy of the diagram from the notes I made August 19, 2010. When I got back to Cross we began design work. It may not seem like rocket science, or all that complicated to duplicate a daisy from nature. It’s easy to make “a perfect daisy” with everything in balance and symmetrical. To duplicate what actually occurs in nature in a convincing way takes time. There is the relationship of the center to the size of the petals, the thickness of the center, the angle of the petals…God has thousands of details to consider with every flower. Try duplicating one and you’ll appreciate the magnificence of his work.
Our final production schedule for the French Daisy came out to early August 2011. We ran an ad in Down East Magazine and set our shipping date for August 19th - exactly a year to the day from the original idea. Developing a new item takes time…months or sometimes years.
The French Daisy has been a great item. As of Spring 2013 we have found hundreds of romantics who, for many and varied reasons, have decided that they had to have a French Daisy. And yes, my French girlfriend received one for her birthday. I chose the silver with the gold center. That is the one most people choose. -R.H.P
After we got back to the store we created this chart to help us understand how the French Daisy poem works and where the English version coincides. As you can see at one point we considered "He loves me madly" but we settled on "Passionate Love" for our French Daisy, and 33 petals.
For many of the pieces we create there is a deeper story. A story of an idea, its evolution and then the story of its meaning…a meaning we share in our print ads and a meaning we share on a small card tucked inside the gift wrapped box. This card and its words are a reminder of why the giver fell in love with the piece and what he (or she) is hoping to convey in the giving of the gift to his love.
Thank you for considering Cross.
A Design Detail Note
Few realize what may go into the creation of a piece of jewelry. Our French Daisy is made from two layers of petals which are set on top of one another, and held in place by the silver or gold center button. The final step after assembly – the flower goes to the “petal adjuster” who goes around the perimeter of the flower, not plucking but adjusting (turning, bending, twisting) each petal with petal pliers, to give it a realistic flow and look. Petal adjusting may not seem complicated but when we first made our French Daisy it took about a month for our petal adjuster to perfect the process. We are pleased to say he has mastered the art and now does a magnificent job every time of bringing realism to every flower.