You’ve heard of Take Your Daughter to Work Day?

Recently, I flipped the script and asked my daughter if she was up for Take Your Mother to Work Day. She was!

But before we go to work, a story. Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to shop for clothes with her mother. Barbara Ann was the only daughter of Anna Mary, also an only daughter. So mother-daughter shopping was a way of bonding and exploring creativity.

Lancaster County "girl group" about 1944. My mother, Barbara Ann Hess, is front and center, holding hands and looking right into the camera.

Lancaster County “girl group” about 1944. My mother, Barbara Ann Hess, is front and center, holding hands and looking right into the camera.

Many years later another little girl, my only daughter Kate, started to display the same interest in clothing that at least four generations of women before her exhibited. From the age of 18 months, Kate insisted on selecting her own clothes. She loved dresses, especially very fancy ones. Fortunately, by then the second-hand stores in our area made it possible to find fancy dresses at the prices an assistant professor (me) could afford. Buying a quality outfit that fit well, looked good, and cost little was like finding a treasure. We enjoyed the hunt as much as the catch. Here’s Kate’s on Easter Sunday 1988.

Thrifted Easter Outfit 1988

Kate’s thrifted Easter Outfit 1988

Throughout her childhood and adolescence Kate continued to love fashion, color, and bargains. One of her jobs in college was to work at Twice As Nice, a second-hand store in Goshen, IN. As an art major and business minor, Kate was able to combine her talents during her two years of volunteer work 2005-6 with the PULSE program by working at Ambiance, a high-end thrift store with mission to help women in shelters. Following her volunteer years, she became an entrepreneur. Like many Millennials, she loves to structure her own time and seeks creative outlets that have social missions.

She started a blog called Yinzpiration where she reached her goal of interviewing 100 creative young Pittsburghers; she was the first host of Creative Mornings/Pittsburgh; she partnered with Emily Levinson and Carrie Nardini to create Propelle, a coaching and mastermind group for women entrepreneurs; and she and her husband Nik have been AirBnB super hosts since 2012. All of these endeavors allowed her to grow her artistic and business skills while she continued to apply her thrift shopping skills on the side.

Those of you who came with me on the journey before and after the publication of BLUSH may remember that I hired Kate to help me with promotion, especially of social media.

Kate in 1988 and 2021. Plus one of her role models.

Kate in 1988 and 2021. Plus one of her role models.

Since moving from Pittsburgh to Lancaster, PA, in 2021 , Kate has started a new business. This time she is drawing on her previous experiences but also applying them in a targeted way to her original love of clothing. The name of this new career?  Personal thrifting, reseller, sustainable shopper. I had never heard of these names before. All I knew is that she had a new Instagram account and an account on a website called Poshmark.

How did she find the clothes? Where did she store the clothes? How did she sell the clothes? My inquiring mind wanted to know.

So I asked my daughter to take me to work for a day. Below you can see us in our Covid shopping gear and thrifted coats, ready for the hunt. Next week I’ll return to tell you what I learned and what I still want to know.

Kate and Shirley go thrifting.

Kate and Shirley go thrifting. Wearing thrifted coats.

In the meantime, please tell me what your daughter does for a living and how you learn about it. Or tell your own shopping story. Would you like a personal thrifter to do your hunting, or do you want the pleasure yourself? What’s the best “find” you have made in a thrift store? 

Shirley Showalter


  1. Laurie Buchanan on January 5, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Shirley — As a minimalist, I thrive on repair-recycle-reuse, so your daughter’s business launch has my standing ovation. Brava!

    • Shirley Showalter on January 5, 2022 at 5:02 pm

      Laurie, you will enjoy next week’s post on what I learned. And I know you are a great exemplar of repair-recycle-reuse. I’ll never forget the picture of your entire wardrobe on a rack!

  2. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on January 5, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Shirley, I’m amazed at how you matched your baby daughter’s outfit with your adult daughter’s and with Julie Andrews, down to the red shoes! So beautiful!
    Our eldest daughter works as program director at a seniors’ day club and always comes up with new and creative ideas. Now during Covid she works with seniors who have dementia and continues to be just as inspiring and creative! I used to visit occasionally before Covid.
    Our second daughter is a pastor and often passes her sermons on to me for comments before she delivers them. They are always wonderful.
    Our youngest is a one on one high school teaching assistant for students with learning disabilities. They love her. I would not have the patience she has. I’m so proud of all three of them!

    • Shirley Showalter on January 5, 2022 at 10:29 pm

      Elfrieda, it was actually Kate who found the 1988 picture and put the 2021 outfit together around it, throwing Mary Poppins in for a bonus.

      Your daughters are all involved in caring professions, serving others. I know where they got those values! And I see why you are proud of them.

      What a wonderful legacy you are building together as a family.

  3. Marian Beaman on January 5, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Shirley, I too inherited a girl-gang photo much like your mother’s with a few fancy girls sprinkled among the plain. In this post, I’m struck too with how much Lydia resembles her mother’s looks and interests. Color and culture carries on.

    My daughter worked in communication services for a large industrial company. Now she has the privilege and leisure to pursuit her interests in gardening and interior design. I would never shop for clothes with her. She and Kate have a lot in common. 😀

  4. Marian Beaman on January 5, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    Read that “without her”!

    • Shirley Showalter on January 5, 2022 at 10:50 pm

      Yes, Marian, the tradition carries on to the next generation: Lydia loves dresses too, and looks a lot like her mother when she was a girl.

      Your daughter has worked in very different environments. She has wide interests and skill sets, like her mother.

      I’m curious about why you would never shop for clothes with her. Oh, now I see the correction. She is your fashion consultant!

  5. Melodie on January 5, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    I did not like shopping for clothes with my youngest because she soon grew tired of looking for whatever she was looking for. And just gave up. I don’t remember much about shopping with the other two. Now they all do a lot of their clothes shopping online. So much easier, even returns!

    Our daughters work: for an environmental non profit (urban ecology major); a large city newspaper in advertising (English major); and a large Ohio university in the music department (music industry major). I couldn’t be prouder and they used to come to work with me and leave me notes in my office desk that I loved finding later! But no, I guess I never got to “take my mom” to work longer than just a pop in visit when she came to the Shenandoah Valley. I know she was proud of my work too.

    Thanks for this walk down memory lane. 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on January 5, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      Melodie, your maternal family traditions don’t focus on clothes or shopping, but I can certainly see the intergenerational influence in the professions your daughters chose. You didn’t have to take your mom to work to know that she appreciated and supported you in it. The same is true of your daughters. In the end, it’s all about love, isn’t it?

  6. Maren C. Tirabassi on January 6, 2022 at 7:19 am

    Our daughter is a writer and editor, often with me (faith-based writing, not her thriller, but yes the cozy mystery) and does some free lance work. She is also that not-so-current person who is full time mother and busy church volunteer. Right now she is trying to help her four and six year old sons cope with the fact that, though their house was undamaged, everywhere they go there are hundreds of houses that burned to the ground last week. I fantasize about not so much having a personal shopper as a fairy godmother and never going in a store again. Maria follows me in the find-something -that-fits-buy-in-3-colors-and-wear-till-husbnad-secretly-throws-away.

    • Shirley Showalter on January 6, 2022 at 10:15 am

      Oh my, Maren. Your daughter lives in Boulder? It must be horrible to see all that disaster — especially at the ages of 4 and 6. You and Maria are minimalists just like Laurie, above, who, by the way has a contract to write a series of seven mystery books and is well on her way with two already in print and one on the way. Maria clearly saw much in your life that she emulates.

  7. Norma Stauffer on January 6, 2022 at 10:18 am

    You’re kidding me! That purple coat was a thrift store find? It always makes me smile when I see you wearing it!

    My daughter is the VP of Order Optimization at WebstaurantStore. Not exactly sure what that means except that it is her priority to get all things food service related delivered in a timely manner to the people who want them all over the US. Due to COVID changes, she now works mostly from home. A day of following her to work would be a day spent in her home office with her 2 cats.

    • Shirley Showalter on January 6, 2022 at 10:36 am

      Yes. The purple coat seems like new but it was actually a J. Crew coat that reminds me of the ones the Obama girls wore at the 2009 inauguration. I’ll have to ask Kate where she found it. Purple, of course, is Goshen College’s color (see mask), so she got it partly for that reason and partly because she knows what looks good on me a well or better than I do.

      I hope to meet this awesome daughter of yours some day. Sounds like a lot of responsibility requiring an organized and calm mind. I wonder where she might have gotten those traits?? 🙂

  8. Gloria Horst Rosenberger on January 6, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    I have gone with my daughter to work….after her official hours. As a breast oncology surgeon there is no way I can follow her into the operating room. But at night when she returns to check on a patient, I have tagged along, waiting in the hallway; all this before COVID. I “go along” as she assures the patient on teletherapy. I see her science side inherited from her Dad; I see her compassionate side from her Momma. Wearing scubs and a white coat suit her just fine. As an elemtary student she insisted on wearing sweat shirts and sweat pants every day to school. I did not want to bribe, but when my brother got married, I did indeed bribe her to wear a dress. As a 10 year old, she bargained for more than what I was offering. We compromised. Now at 40, I see pictures of her in “a little black dress” for special occassions. Now the next generation continues: her one daughter wears nothing but leggings and the other loves to wear dresses. I love the photos of Kate as child and as woman in nearly the same outfit.

    • Shirley Showalter on January 7, 2022 at 9:22 am

      Gloria, isn’t it wonderful that our daughters can be so different and yet completely command our love and respect? As a mother, you saw how your daughter put the legacy of her genetic and environmental materials together. Now as a grandmother, you get to contribute to the same process of exploration, acceptance, rejection, and evolution in the next generation. I am glad you have had the chance to see Laura’s bedside manner in person. I am sure, after hearing her lecture at EMU, that if I had breast cancer, I would want to consult with her.

  9. Janet Plenert on January 6, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    My eldest daughter is a midwife so spends her time listening to women’s hopes and fears and walking with them in one of life’s biggest moments, holding their hands and empowering them to believe in themselves.
    Middle daughter is a stay at home mother of a 1 and 3 year old, home administrator, creative baker extraordinaire, amazing cook of an ever expanding repertoire of new foods and dishes, thrifter of all things including fabric which she then sews into wearable creations, and every skilled finder of locally available pre-loved toys and home items. She also sells homemade soup and sourdough bread out of her house on Wednesdays.
    My youngest daughter is a paramedic, when not running covid testing centres in remote northern communities, she is working as an all purpose Jill of all trades medic at camps in the Northwest Territories where Northern lights are a real thing and daylight is a rare thing.
    They approach ‘stuff’ very differently, but each one is teaching me lots about life.

    • Shirley Showalter on January 7, 2022 at 9:37 am

      Janet, what an explosion of beautiful words describing your daughters’ diverse talents! All of them have one thing in common, however, They draw on the unique interests of each one, but they express these in different ways at different stages in life. They all exemplify what we at Goshen College have called “culture for service,” a connection of the self to the needs of the world. Your pride in each one is obvious and well-deserved. I hope you share this description with your daughters. Thanks for sharing with me and other readers here.

      • Melinda DiBernardo on January 7, 2022 at 11:04 am

        I always love reading responses here as much as I do Shirley’s post! I have 3 daughters. My oldest is a musicologist, teaching a few courses at a college near her in MA. One of them is a the History of Rock and Roll, which we like to say, because as a young person she was not the least interested! Another is about Disabilities and music. She has what she calls a ‘sound component ‘ and goes into different aspects of sound, part of which they have to get to the real outdoors and listen. My middle one works in the greenhouse with/for her dad. Their personalities are very much alike , so that’s a happy thing for both of them. She has a child on the autism spectrum, and that requires a lot of advocating. She is a trooper. My youngest is in her 8th year of teaching elementary school. She spent 6 years in first grade, like her grandmother, and last year moved to 4th , where she teaches poetry, history and literature and is in her element. But it’s not easy. There are so many hefty issues to deal with. The older two are mothers. The youngest wishes she was. I’ve been to lectures with the oldest and listened when she was discussing her dissertation with her advisor. The greenhouse work I am pretty familiar with, and I have been in youngest daughter’s classroom and had countless discussions on the phone. Whew! Good thing my mother isn’t answering this, there would be 6 of us to talk about!

  10. Shirley Showalter on January 7, 2022 at 11:18 am


    Wow, the maternal energy is very strong in your family. First five sibling sisters, then three daughters of your own. I agree that these comments are the most intriguing parts of blogging. I learn as much from readers as I do from my own research and documented stories. You obviously have delved into the work lives of each daughter. It strikes me that they (and you) explore all the senses in their work. Young children always love to taste and touch and feel and see and hear. College students have often lost that close connection with sound, especially outdoor sounds, so they need encouragement and instruction to regain that love. And the work in the greenhouse is surely sensory-rich also. Nothing like hands in soil and the celebration of blooms and smells! Thanks for adding to our symphony of sound and imagery of light and love derived from paying attention to our daughters!

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