I am going preface this week’s Following Flutter by informing you all that Jeri is indeed my aunt. When she married my uncle Rick on June 18, 1994, I was blessed with a constant supplier of warm hugs, fashion inspiration and the best damn Thanksgiving dinners this side of the Mississippi.
So yes, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about her. But visit Flutter any given afternoon and spend some time chatting with her while she pieces together the perfect ensemble for your upcoming Christmas party and you’ll have nothing but wonderful things to say as well.
Over lunch a few days ago, I learned so many interesting things about her that I had not previously realized. All of which revealed a beautiful soul that matched her stunning exterior.
“She puts the finishing touches on everything,” Flutter owner Erin Morrison said as we escaped from a chilly Newburgh day and sipped on peppermint mochas in The Refinery. “Really, her hands are usually the last to touch any product. It’s a touch that has been missing. It’s a little hug from Jeri.”
Whether she is in the back of the store alphabetizing shipments or in the front of the store making every display look perfect, both Flutter employees and customers always know when she is there. The little ‘hugs’ make it obvious.
Though Jeri has always had a love for putting her own touches on fashion due to her talented seamstress mother, she went to school to major in elementary education after she had her daughter. Having a child made her incredibly intrigued by how children learn, so she chose a career celebrating that learning process and spent much of her adult life shaping the minds of Warrick County School Corporation students – later having Larren as a student teacher.
“I would say to Larren, ‘when I retire someday, I’m just going to come work at Flutter with you,’” she said with a giggle over her Café Arazu Greek salad, never expecting it to actually happen. After Jeri retired to care for her mother, Larren continued to remind her of what she said while she was student teaching.
“When my mom got sick, I wasn’t ready to retire, I didn’t have that in my mind. But she would tell me often that she wished I would retire and be with her. And eventually it came to me that that’s what I needed to do. When she passed away, I just buried myself in tasks, like getting her house clean and ready to sell and doing projects around our house. Then toward the end of August, after I was done with all of those projects, I was sitting outside on a beautiful day. My daughter and grandchildren were all back at school and work and Rick was working and I just thought “now what?’”
Jeri had a strong urge to text Larren in that moment. She told her that if she ever needed any help around Flutter, even if it were just to hang clothes, she was available. Larren replied, saying she and her husband were just talking about needing someone to do just that, then immediately called Erin to tell her of what just happened.
“That is the kind of thing that I am not going to ignore,” Erin said. “Nothing in life is ironic. It was just another one of those nudges from above.”
Now, instead of filling her itinerary with tasks to busy her worried mind, she spends her afternoons with her Flutter family putting her organizational skills to use to helping customers.
“For me as a customer, being in Flutter always felt warm and always felt right,” she said, adjusting her grey Fabulous Fur vest. “It’s an experience. Everyone makes you feel relaxed, there’s no pressure and you can just browse around. To me, the whole experience is reminiscent of fine dining – it’s a personalized experience that just makes you feel special.”
“While I was thinking about sending that text to Larren about working there, I was constantly wondering why it was always on my mind. I knew there was a reason as to why I kept thinking about it; I knew that I was meant to be there. Working there has shown me that it is never too late to get out and do something new, you’re never as old as you think you are and life has a way of turning out how it should.”
~ Written by Bradie Gray