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A country singer & vintage dealer moves to build a better life for her girls on the autism spectrum



Molly Leary
Musician & Owner of Squash Blossom Vintage
Auburn, California

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Molly Leary. Molly is a single mother, a musician, and a small business owner. She runs Squash Blossom Vintage, offering one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect her love of late sixties and seventies fashion. She has pivoted throughout the years - going from consignment to pop-up to brick and mortar and now she sells exclusively through her weekly Instagram stories. Molly has built a roster of repeat customers from all over the world and her business has graced the pages of Vogue and Elle magazine. I previously featured Molly on the website. Click HERE to read the full story, and see photographs from her home from my visit in 2019.


Molly left the vibrant music scene of Austin, Texas so that she could be closer to family and build a better life for her girls. While living in Austin, Molly’s two daughters were diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It initially felt overwhelming because it was a steep learning curve to understand the unique needs of each of her girls and figure out what was available to assist in their learning and development. She decided to move back to her childhood stomping grounds in the Gold Country of California because the resources for children with special needs were superior to what was available in Texas. It also meant that her daughters could grow up with their grandma and aunt nearby.



While searching online for available rentals, Molly accidentally clicked on a home for sale and not for rent. It was the house she had always dreamed of - all redwood, passive solar, built in the same era as the clothing that she sold. It seemed impossible as a cash-only, fixer-upper, that she couldn’t afford but she just couldn’t shake the feeling this was destined to be the place where she raised her daughters and had to find a way to make it work. It felt like divine intervention when her new community rallied together to help her get the house.


Molly has found success and work/life balance with her small vintage business and she offers some great advice about not rejecting the path that speaks to your authentic self, your skills, and your talents. She has intentionally manifested a life and livelihood that allows her to be fully present with her girls when they are home with her and that is something, as a mother and business owner, that I truly admire about Molly and strive to work towards in my own life.


I hope Molly’s interview also speaks to those of you who have children or family members with special needs. The pandemic has been such a difficult time for parents and caregivers who haven’t been able to have the same access to educational and support services for their loved ones. It has also exposed the cracks in our current care options, because there truly isn’t equal access for all, nor is it easy to navigate and find services - both in rural and urban spaces. If you plan on moving to a rural area it is always important to research what health, education and social services are available before you choose a location. No two rural communities are the same and that research might tip the scale for one small town over another. We have included below some resources for anyone researching moving to a rural area with a special needs at the end of this post.


In our conversation we speak about motherhood, navigating the complexities of an autism diagnosis, and creative entrepreneurship. This is a story about a mother’s love, manifesting dreams, and cultivating everyday happiness. I hope you enjoy.


LINKS
Squash Blossom Vintage
Instagram
Molly's original Urban Exodus Feature




SPECIAL NEEDS RESOURCES
Color of Autism
Family Voices
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
Easterseals
ACRES (American Council on Rural Special Education)
Rural Resources