Please allow me to introduce you to the latest Woman of Grace: Anita Morris, the blogger behind Anita By Design. I met the lady of the hour via social media, through our involvement in The Fierce 50 Campaign.
Anita fits the Woman of Grace profile. She is a woman of faith, over 50, is aging gracefully, looks fit, healthy and stylish. By the same coin, she reminds me of some of the other Women of Grace I’ve profiled here: my bestie Cynthia, singer and actress FabuLesley, and bluegrass musician Julia Chatwell. They all have that certain je ne sais quoi! You may not be able to describe what they have, but you know it’s definitely something special.
Anita, tell us about yourself. Do you work full-time?
I am a housewife and sewing blogger.
Are you originally from California?
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee but have lived in California since I was seven years old.
How long have you been married?
I’ve been married for 21 years. It will be 22 in August.
What else do you like to do besides spending time with your family and sewing?
I enjoy tea parties, working out at the gym, and reading.
Congratulations to you and your husband on his retirement as Captain of the Los Angeles Fire Department. How did your faith in God help you and your sons through his 20 year career as a firefighter?
God gave me wisdom and guidance to run the household and take care of the boys while my husband worked. In addition, I was very active in our church as a Sunday School Teacher and Women’s Ministry Member. I kept our kids busy and engaged with other children through a group called the MOMS Club (Moms Offering Moms Support).
God orchestrated all of this to help provide a community for the boys and me while my husband was away, but He used it to increase my faith and teach me how to live for Him and encourage other women. Because of the nature of my husband’s job, he lived away from home about 40% of the time. God gave me everything I needed to take care of the home while my husband was away. I am so grateful that I had Him to help me be the woman, wife, and mother I needed to be for Him and my family during those years. I also praise Him for protecting my husband and our family.
How did you come to know your mission in life to encourage other women through your sewing?
I’ve always had the mental awareness that God wanted me to help women. I’ve noticed through the years that women feel comfortable confiding in me about personal issues or needs. I remember asking myself on so many occasions, “I wonder why she’s asking for my advice?” I believe it was trust that led them my way.
When women come to my blog, they get “me” with the sewing. Coupled with the feedback on the blog and private messages of gratitude that reaches beyond sewing, I’m confident that God is using me to reach women for His glory. This, for me, is confirmation that my mission to encourage women is taking place through the blog. Correspondingly, it’s in the feedback.
You have beautiful skin, do you have a particular regiment or individual products that you must use? Have you adopted any new products since turning 50?
Why thank you! I have used the same products on my skin since I’ve been an adult, and there is nothing sophisticated about it at all, haha. For cleansing, I use Oil-Free Acne Wash by Equate (a Wal-Mart generic brand to Neutrogena). Whenever I get blemishes, I use Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment. I moisturize with Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin or the Equate generic brand. I haven’t switched my routine up since turning 50 because everything continues to work for me.
Please share how you maintain your great physique?
I workout at the local gym 4 or 5 times a week. My workout routine consists of weight lifting and cardio. For weight lifting, I alternate between upper body and lower throughout the week, using both free weights and weight machines. For cardio, I use the treadmill, elliptical, cable robes and sometimes participate in the Zumba class.
I try to only eat fresh foods with vegetables only, excluding starches and other carbs. I don’t always stick to this, especially since my husband’s retirement.
You celebrated your blog’s one year anniversary in January. It is my understanding that you started your blog to encourage women to embrace their personal style. Tell us about that journey?
My definition of style is not what many think of upon hearing the word. I believe many view style as what you wear. I believe that style is who you are on the inside. My personal style is what directs the choices I make in every area of life. Personal style guides my speech, relationships, entertainment, behavior, wardrobe choices, etc. Knowing who you are, your style is liberating. It frees you from the darkness of a “people-pleasing” lifestyle, where you base many of your choices on what you think others want from you. Unfortunately, a desire to “fit in” causes some to sacrifice who they are, which in turn ushers in depression in some cases. When we embrace our style, we embrace God’s design and bless those within our sphere of influence, as we live authentic lives.
You have nearly 17, 000 subscribers on Youtube! It’s so exciting that you teach a Youtube beginners sewing class, how did you decide to use this platform to reach an audience? Which came first the blog or the Youtube channel?
The blog came first. The Youtube channel began out of a need to give back what I’m receiving. As I learn, I need to share with the sewing community. I knew that I would teach when I started the blog. Though I had never created a YouTube video, but I knew I could learn by watching tutorials, haha!
I learned in a blogging 101 Course that to keep your audience interested and coming back you need to have something to offer them, and they’re not going to keep coming just to see you in beautiful clothes. So from the beginning, I knew I needed to have something to offer. I knew I could teach and I’ve seen it done on Youtube, so I decided to give it a try. The response has been overwhelming and far beyond what I expected.
Based on what I see on your Instagram and Facebook, it looks like you prefer to wear classic and timeless clothing. How would you describe your style?
Usually, I describe my style as ladylike. In everything that I do, I want to present myself as a lady with class, elegance, and dignity. In my speech, behavior, attire, and dealings with others, I desire to be respectful to myself and viewed as a lady. When choosing the type of clothing I wear (fashion), I think about what makes me feel good and how I’m presenting myself to the public.
But above all, regardless of what I’m wearing, I want to carry myself in a way that gives an air of approachability. If I’m to be a vessel through which God reaches other women, I must be approachable. Others must feel safe and comfortable around me. I wear a smile almost every day. I say almost because I’m human and have days where I don’t feel like laughing, so I’m not a robot. Hahaha! But I can say that I’m known for my big smiles. So whether you see me wearing a ball gown, comfy maxi dress, or casual t-shirt and jeans, I accessorize it with a smile and approachable attitude.
I’ve noticed that many women over the age of 50 are finding the time to express themselves through blogging and re-visiting crafts they learned earlier in life. Is this how your sewing became your passion again? Are you from a family of seamstresses?
I love seeing so many women over the age of 50 stepping into their God-given talents. I’m inspired by and feel proud to be among them. No one else in my family sews. I learned how to use a sewing machine in 8th grade home economics class. Then I took a few beginner sewing classes to learn the basics when I was in my mid to late twenties. I picked up on the techniques quickly and began sewing. So sewing took a back seat for many years after I got married and started a family.
My sewing became a passion again in 2013 when I decided to make a dress for a Christmas party. From that moment I started sewing here and there until I was introduced to the Mimi G. Style blog and learned about the huge sewing community that I didn’t know existed. That’s when I knew I was back. The inspiration and talent blew me away. Moreover, I’m so happy to be part of this amazing community of DIYers.
I see you are involved in a new sewing venture, Sew Sew Def, a new multi-cultural sewing magazine. How did this partnership come into existence?
I am so excited and honored to be part of this fabulous new magazine. The best part is that the woman who created the publication is the same person who inspired me to take my sewing to the next level and start blogging. She is an amazing seamstress and pattern designer. She asked if I was interested in being part of her team for the upcoming magazine. After I had picked myself up from the floor in my mind, I responded with an enthusiastic YES. She assigned me to the Beginner’s section of the magazine, which is right in line with my passion. I love teaching beginners how to sew. The team was put in place, and sewsewdefmag.com launched on April 4, 2017.
A fun fact that I read about you is that you love tea parties. What should we know about hosting or attending tea parties?
When I host a tea party, the most important element I consider first is the guest list, as this dictates everything else I do to plan the event. Next, I send out the invitations. After everyone RSVPs, I start to plan the event.
Next, I start to plan the menu. I always consider who my guests are and if there are any diet restrictions, I take that into consideration. I usually serve scones, salad, finger sandwiches, a dessert and tea of course. After I plan the menu, I decide which china set I will use. I’ve collected several sets over the years, and I love setting the table. Likewise, I like to think about my guests as I’m setting the table and envision the great time ahead.
During the tea, I like to serve my guests, not allowing them to lift a finger for anything, except to eat their food and drink their tea. And it blesses my heart to do this because as wives and moms, we are usually so busy serving our families.
Finally, I like to bless my guests with a small take-home gift. Once I purchased delicate handkerchiefs and had them embroidered with each guest’s first name.
You like to read. What’s last book you that read? What did you like about it?
The last book I read was True Style, A Look Beyond the Surface, by Glenda K. Harrison. I love the fact that this book speaks directly to my belief of what style is. The author so eloquently puts into words exactly how I feel about style. Harrison explains the difference between “style” and “fashion.” She also walks the reader through discovering their “true style.” It’s a well-written piece, and I look forward to meeting her in person one day.
Anita, I want to thank you for sharing the intimate details of your life with us. I greatly appreciate it, I know my readers enjoy learning about the ladies that I admire. Ladies, how fabulous is Anita and her sewing skills? You can stay connected with Anita on her blog, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
What do you think of Anita and her style?Please share in the comments section.
Have a fabulous, stylish and fierce week!