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Whitney Biggs creates the Letter Book after her battle with cancer

Knoxville News Sentinel

The holidays provide lots of opportunities to spend time with loved ones. Knoxville mompreneur and co-creator of Treasured Passages Whitney Biggs knows a thing or two about the importance of capturing the memories made during the holidays and all year long.

Life threw Biggs a series of curve balls that taught her the value of a legacy keepsake. “I was 30 years old, and life was ticking along just as I had planned it,” said Biggs. “I had a great job, great husband and was pregnant with my first child. But then my mom passed away after a four-month battle with cancer.”

Biggs was devastated by the fact that her mother would not know her children, and her children would not know their grandmother.

After her second child was born, Biggs found out she had breast cancer. “I went through all those same feelings. Only this time, I was worried that my kids would not know me.”

After surgery and radiation she survived her breast cancer, and a few years later she inherited her mother’s childhood desk.

“At first, it was too painful to look in the desk. When I finally did, I discovered it was filled with her keepsakes. I read every scrap of paper in that desk. And it brought this whole mental picture of her back,” said Biggs.

Among the things she found was a list. “After studying it, I realized it was a list of things that made her happy. It meant so much to me to have this ‘Happy List,’ because it encompassed everything that made me think of her. And it was in her handwriting, so it just felt like a piece of her,” said Biggs.

After a lot of brainstorming with her dearest friend, Sabra Miller, and Sabra’s mom, Janice Maples, they decided to create something that would help others enrich relationships and capture memories at the same time.

“We came up with the idea for Treasured Passages letter books,” said Biggs. “A letter book is a keepsake that you create with someone else by sending cards that are included in the book,” explained Biggs. “It’s almost as if you are writing your own story together.”

These guided scrapbooks with stationery are designed in a vintage style. Each page is inspired by personal experiences the creators wanted to help others record.

For example, one of Biggs’ favorite pages in the mother-daughter Treasured Passages letter book is the Hope Chest page, which prompts a mother to write a letter to her grandchildren, born or unborn. “This is something I wish I had from Mom for my own children.”

According to Biggs, “It’s a easy to underestimate the importance of family artifacts and memories, until your opportunity to create them is gone. It was two years before I could rummage through my mom’s desk, but the treasures I found were well worth the wait,” she said. “We believe the letter books are like the desk except in book form.”

As the holidays come to an end and a new year begins, Biggs has already made time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. “This year I intend to add my own stash of memories to Mom’s desk so that one day my children will have their own desk full of treasures to discover and cherish.”

The letter books, ranging from $34 to $52, are available on the Treasured Passages website and at Mary Boutique in The Shops at Western Plaza.via:

Stationery Trends Magazine

Written correspondence travels across time and space to bring people together, but any age-old concept can use a little tweaking. Enter letter books from Treasured Passages, described as “a little bit journal, a little bit greeting card and an entirely new way to record the relationships you hold most dear.”

These shared experiences between two people are available in four themes – Between Friends, For Couples, Mother & Daughter and Sisters – and each book includes a storage drawer containing more than 30 cards. These are mailed back and forth and finally come back to the book for safekeeping. It’s all part of a bigger mission to fill mailboxes instead of in-boxes and to disconnect in order to reconnect.

Stationery Trends interviewed Sabra Miller, one of Treasured Passages’ three owners, on how this product was born.-SS

ST: What was your inspiration?
SM: Life, loss and love! One of our partners lost her mother at a young age, and we realized two things: The most meaningful things in life are the relationships we have with those we love, and having a handwritten legacy to pass down to our children (is) very important.

ST: How long did development take?
SM: In truth, we have been working on this for more than 10 years but just didn’t realize it. Each page idea in the books came from some experience in our lives. It has taken us one long, creative, wonderful year to get the first prototype in our hands. It was well worth the wait.

ST: Did you encounter any unanticipated obstacles?
SM: When you bring something to the marketplace that has never been done before you run into all kinds of obstacles. The main one was the amount of time it took to take an idea and turn it something tangible.

ST: How many prototypes did you go through?
SM: We went through three prototypes before deciding on a final look.

ST: How do you recommend the line be promoted and merchandised?
SM: A marketing team was dedicated solely to helping our retailers explain and sell the books. They created bell-bands to go around the books, which explain clearly what the products are, and also designed a small freestanding marketing piece to be displayed with the books. These will accompany every order. Retailers should open one book so customers can browser through and see the meaning of the books and they will sell themselves.

ST: Do you have any plans to expand your letter book offerings?
SM: We do have plans for other products that are extensions to the line at lower price points. We will continue to bring products to life that enrich relationships in new and unique ways.

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Connecting hearts & histories Sunday, May 13, 2012. Save the date! Though currently on Back Order until Early March, Mother’s Day is just around the corner and the Mother Daughter Letter Book is the perfect gift.

When I got a call from my aunt in 2002 that there was an emergency issue with my mom’s heart and she was scheduled for a bypass surgery over 1,400 miles away I started to panic. My mom did not drink, smoke and was still in her 40s and it was so unexpected that I could possibly lose her. I guess at 22 I just took for granted that my mom would always be around and it became a cold realization that life was too short and there was still so much I wanted to learn about her. I am happy to report that a triple bypass and 10 years later, I still get to talk to my mom over the phone several times a week and she even text messages me now!

I want to share my life’s journey with my daughter without her having to know all the questions to ask. I have learned to ask my mom things that are on my mind but I know there are probably a million questions that I could inquire and learn about her and I don’t want to wait until it is too late. When I saw the Mother Daughter Letter Book through Treasured Passages, I knew it was the perfect keepsake that Brooke and I can share together as she gets older. The book is made for the scrapbook-challenged like me who want an easy to fill in book that has activities to do, cards to store and outlines of where to put pictures. The book has over 40 envelopes and cards that mother and daughter can fill out together or for each other. The Question Cards have such interesting questions as ‘What’s the greatest thing a friend ever did for you?’ to ‘What’s been on your mind lately?’ and even one on what super powers would you want if you could have them. The finished product is a keepsake history of two lives of a mother and daughter shared that can be passed down to future generations.

About the Author: Whitney Biggs wants mothers and daughters to keep their lines of communication open and share their lives with each other. Whitney is a cancer survivor who lost her mom to cancer too soon. Faced with the reality that her small children could grow up without knowing her, she came to believe that chronicling memories was the best gift you can give your loved ones. What a beautiful message that shows through her keepsake books. Check out the Treasured Passages website for her other keepsake books for friends, couples and sisters.

Psst! Psst! I saved the best for last for those of us with little ones who want to start doing a keepsake like this earlier in their lives! Whitney let me know that there will be a younger child/parent version of her Treasured Passages keepsake book coming out with a target date of August 2012! I am excited and hope to do a full review for you later this year