In December of 2013, we signed up the male offspring with Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do in Western Pennsylvania. Our friends had provided a coupon for a few free weeks and a uniform after his preschool teacher had suggested it. She felt there was a need for discipline and an active outlet for his strength and enthusiasm, as our son had always been off the charts for his age in height and weight. We had no idea that this “sport” would become an all-encompassing pursuit for our family.
Tae Kwon Do is taught in many schools and in many styles throughout the United States. There are national chains, regional chains, local schools and groups that teach it as part of a larger martial arts curriculum. Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do is a family run group of schools that focuses exclusively on Tae Kwon Do, with 9 regional dojangs in Western Pennsylvania ( and several in Texas run by former students). One of the three brothers still lives in South Korea and the connection is very strong.
The male offspring took to Tae Kwon Do and we saw the benefits almost immediately. The lead instructor, referred to as “Sabinum”, became a partner to our parenting, reinforcing the idea of respecting your parents/elders, and doing your part in the family, whether it be keeping your room clean, doing your homework, or not having to be told repeatedly to do things. I have very fond memories of a stressful situation where the male offspring was being headstrong and Sabinum threatened to remove a recent belt level the offspring had achieved. It was a big teaching moment and I know my son realized in that moment that we were a team both cheering him on and steering him correctly.
It was no surprise that the female offspring soon realized the strength and discipline that her brother was finding in the dojang and we signed her up the following summer. As she began lessons a little bit older, she had a slightly different path and caught up quickly to her brother’s level. As I write this, we are sitting in a gymnasium, 4 years later and they are testing for their 2nd degree black belts!
Why am I discussing martial arts in this blog? I will tell you. When the offspring were small and passed their first test, they received their first three patches. This signifies belonging to the Young Brothers’ family, and is the company logo (breast patch), South Korean flag (left arm) and the flag of the United States of America (right arm).
At the time, there was a seamstress connected to the dojang, and in a pinch, Sabinum’s wife, a Master herself, would sew them on for a fee. As a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), I had her show me the placement and I sewed their patches on myself to be thrify. I was already active with the Girl Scouts as a Cookie Mom, so it was a logical progression from to sew the badges as I was already a pro at scout patches. I knew some folks did it all by hand, but I was pretty fast with my sewing machine and a hearty needle. I also preferred thread and needle to the commercially available “Badge Magic”, as it was notorious for catching the long hair of our Daisies and Brownies, resulting in tears!
Fast forward a few years, and Master was pregnant with her first child. She stayed active with her practice, teaching and testing, but something had to give. She knew I was looking to save up for the offspring’s’ first big test (black belt) and offered me the opportunity to sew patches, as well as black stripes on the trousers for 2nd degrees and red stripes on top of the black stripes for 4th degrees. We set up a fee structure and I made my first flyer for the bulletin board.
The offspring tested for Black Belt in November 2016 and I had PAID for their testing with my work. I was so proud of myself! As new Black Belts, they received a new uniform with a total of 4 patches, and every 6 months, they will test again for levels with a new patch added below the U.S.A. flag on their right arm. I was sewing patches left and right, and people were asking me to sew and repair other things. I started to realize that I was fully capable to offer these services in some areas (repairing seams, hemming jeans, fixing holes), but also needed to share my limitations (I refer men’s suits and tuxedos to a friend of mine, refer embroidery to another friend of mine, and have developed a friendly relationship with a local cobbler to help with shoe and leather repairs outside my abilities!). My children were also in school full time at this stage, and a preliminary job hunt didn’t provide any good fits for my required hours, skill set or desire. A trade off of more money, but less time with my growing family and traveling husband would result in more money spent on take out food, commuting costs, and a work wardrobe, all while removing me from the neighborhood network I had created, and stifling my creativity. I needed a new focus.
So, one wintery day, after the offspring were safely on the school bus, I came home, sat down at our aging desktop, and purchased the domain name, SolutionsByTatiana.com, from GoDaddy. I hadn’t looked at HTML code since I was a student at Syracuse University, hadn’t written a business plan since my MBA classes at Northeastern, and hadn’t thought of myself as a professional businessperson since leaving Bed Bath and Beyond after the birth of the female offspring. But I saw a need in the community for family-friendly design solutions, and I saw an opportunity for my family to earn some much needed vacation funds all while supporting them as a wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law.
The rest, as they say, is history…