How I Ended Up With My Own Collection of Rugs

It’s no secret that my life has taken some unexpected twists and turns.  Some have been unwelcomed.  Others have exceeded my wildest expectations.  And SOMETIMES I have found both aspects equally intertwined.

Here’s the story of how I ended up with my own Simply Southern Cottage collection of rugs from Orian Rugs that was unknowingly birthed during my greatest season of pain.

My former home in Tooele County, Utah. It sat at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains and I had a view of the Salt Lake off my backporch.

To tell this story, I must take you back to 2008, when my now ex-husband and I moved out to Tooele (pronounced TOO-ILL-A) County, Utah about thirty minutes west of Salt Lake City.

It was a great adventure.  We both began new jobs.  Him as an asst plant manager at a hazardous waste facility and me as an educational sales rep for a leading software company.  My job required weekly travel to other states and his schedule was often grueling requiring long hours and some travel.

Meet Roo and Goldie. The horses I had when I lived near Salt Lake City.

When we relocated out to the far west desert, we bought a stupid, expensive house (because keepin’ up with the Joneses you know *face palm*) that sat on five acres of fenced horse property.  So OF COURSE, we had to get horses to go on our property, Roo and Goldie.  (And let me tell you, he and I knew NOT THE FIRST THING about taking care of horses *insert another face palm*).

Meet the Gearo family. Circa 2008ish

But lucky for us, we met the Gearo family in our little church and they had horses and were also our down the street neighbors.  The Gearos were also transplants to Utah and took us under their wings.  They welcomed us with open arms and provided a much-needed sense of family that we lacked living so far away from ours.

But despite loving and knowing the Gearos so much, when our marriage fell apart, they had NO idea.  In fact, no one, other than my parents and one close friend, knew the heavy burden I carried.  We would show up at church with smiling faces and interact with everyone as if we didn’t have a care in the world (can I insert another face palm here?) and yet my world was crashing down around me.

Sweet Joy Gearo and her mom, Bev

The Gearos loved us so well.  When we were away from home, they would come down the street to take care of Roo and Goldie.  Their teenage daughter, Joy, was the sweetest and was always eager to help.  Joy was such a treasure and I could see a spark in her even at a young age.  I remember one night (just a few days shy of receiving life altering news from my now ex-husband) we hosted a youth dinner in our home.  Joy was there along with her brother and about fifteen or so other teens.  It was such a lovely evening.  We actually spent a great deal of time outside with Roo and Goldie and admiring the view (of the Great Salt Lake).

Another beautiful shot of sweet Joy

And friends, that sweet teen girl, Joy, is the reason why I now have a collection of rugs with Orian.

Fast forward to 2010, my now ex and I moved away from Tooele County and to Texas.  (I thought to rebuild but that’s a story for another day.) And sadly, just a few shorts months after moving, it was confirmed that my ex was still deeply embedded in the throws of an affair and I filed for divorce.  My parents begged me to move home to Louisiana, but I insisted on staying in Texas and DID stay for six total years UNTIL I audibly heard the Lord call me home.

By this time, sweet Joy had all grown up, graduated college and ended up as the marketing director for….. you guessed it… Orian Rugs.  Once I finished the renovation of my cottage and started posting about it online, Joy reached out and asked if I would consider partnering with Orian to style rugs in my home and share about them on my platforms.

This is the first collaboration I did with Orian Rugs for the Cerulean Indoor/Outdoor Breeze rug

“Who me?” I asked her.  I could hardly believe it when she and other brands/magazines started to take notice of my work.  I was FLOORED.

Joy shipped me several Orian Rugs and I styled them in my home and on my porches.  Orian, because of Joy, was one of the first companies I ever partnered with for a social media campaign.  They believed in me, my message and the work I was doing.

Because Joy is SO amazing, she eventually ended up leaving Orian (on good terms) to pursue other opportunities, but the team at Orian stayed in touch.

My fall porch using the Orian Biscay Driftwood rug.


They even produced a web piece on me several years ago.  You can read that here.

Then, last fall, I began the 2022 Project House with Cottages and Bungalows and American Farmhouse Style magazines.  And lo and behold, around the same time, I got an email from Julie at Orian (the new Joy) asking if I’d like to participate in another collaboration effort.  I promptly told her about the Project House and put her in touch with the magazine and they immediately signed on as one of our rug sponsors.

Meet the Minden rug after the friendliest city in the south.

But it gets better!!! A few months after that, Julie emailed and asked if I’d be interested in creating my very own rug collection with them. And let me tell you, I FLIPPED OUT.  WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD? Y’all when I think of rug designers, I think of people like Martha Stewart, Bunny Williams, other world-renowned interior designers.  Not little ole me…. A former teacher, divorced girl from Louisiana.  I am not an interior designer, have no formal training…. I just create spaces that I love that exude cozy, warmth, peace and joy.  Despite my efforts to convince Julie I had NO IDEA what I was doing, she came right back with how they would hold my hand, help me and make the process as smooth as possible.

And that’s exactly what they did. (More on that soon.)

The Academy rug named after the park across the street from my cottage.

And, well, here we all are y’all. Simply Southern Cottage rugs are now available for pre-purchase on Amazon and will ship to your home or business on September 30th.  (AND the prices are currently marked 20% off through the end of the month!) If you purchase prior to September 30th, please enter your order information and request to join this private FB group here.

Sweet Joy all grown up and recently married. So grateful for the Gearo family.

So the moral of this story is….. You absolutely NEVER know who you might interact with today, that can be directly responsible for altering your life down the road.  Sweet Joy. Never did I dream as she fed my horses as a teen, that she would facilitate the launch of my brand into major retailers.

Once again, I have to scream it from the rooftops.  Redemption is real and my story is living proof.

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  1. So happy for you. It is so true….you never know who you may touch in your life or them touch you. I believe angels walk among us . We just have to look up from our busy days and see them. They are everywhere.
    May God continue to bless you,Sara

  2. Michelle Pope says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of your past and how life sometimes your past returns and complete a full circle. How neighbors who became like family still impact your life years later when you least expect it!

  3. Janine Bell says:

    I just love your story, Sara! Even through heartache and pain, God was with you through it all and has so abundantly blessed you for your faithfulness to Him! And He has blessed us with you and your precious soul and talents through IG! I am so very excited for you and this adventurous journey you are on! Your encouragement to others as well as the inspiration and hope you bring to folks is undeniable and so much appreciated!

  4. Elaine says:

    Not that it matters to you, but I’m so proud of you! Listening to God’s voice is the first step to being so successful today. What a testimony you share! I love following you on Instagram.

  5. Pam Young says:

    Sara, the God we serve always, always, takes care of His faithful children, how encouraging this is too so many. I love following you and listening to you, so positive and so faithful . You can change peoples lives with your life story. You have beautiful decor ideas. I am ordering “rugs”. Thank you beautiful lady for sharing.

  6. Nancy Brooks says:

    Sara, thank you sharing your life and being so open. Congratulations on your new line of rugs and now knowing the back story makes them that much more special. It’s wonderful seeing how God continues to bless your life.

  7. Dan Potts says:

    I loved reading about this wonderful story! Thank you for sharing! It is amazing the way life works out sometimes. I’m so very happy for you!

  8. Carla Hyde says:

    Sara thank you for sharing this amazing story! I loved how you were “floored”… lol!! And if we will keep our eyes and hearts open to God He will use opportunities and people that will grow us like we could never imagine. Can’t wait to buy my rug this week! Hugs!

  9. Sherry says:

    Congratulations! Your new collection is beautiful! Why did you have to make it so hard to choose? Thank you for sharing your story of redemption and reward. God’s grace never fails. His love doesn’t either. Keep spreading His joy.

  10. Julie says:

    You really are amazing and humble. I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you from here. The sky is the limit!

  11. Renae says:

    Congratulations, my friend. So thankful for a God of redemption. Hugs and blessings to you.

  12. Becky Hanley says:

    Hi Sara! I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog before. But I’ve followed you for quite some time now!
    I was viewing your rug collection on Amazon & saw where they are manufactured in my town of Anderson, SC!! I was born (58 years ago) & raised, & still live in good ole Anderson!
    Orion Rugs has always been a landmark here in Anderson.
    But anyway, congratulations on all of your accomplishments! When you seek & trust the Lord, you can’t go wrong!

  13. Julie says:

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing story. I tell people all the time, “Our path in life is never a straight one…” I’ve also experienced some life altering u-turns and road blocks, but it makes us resilient and shows us who we are. You’re one hard working tough cookie, and you deserve every bit of this successful life you’ve created!

  14. Debby says:

    Sara when the time is right I sure hope you write a book about your journey. Always here for you cheering you on. This is another wonderful story.

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