Amy Ripley | Owner | Designer
My name is Amy, the owner and designer of Shoebox Albums. I have been a graphic designer for 15 years. I started this company because I am passionate about designing high-end photo books to celebrate life's important events. When I'm not designing albums, I'm spending time with my family, walking my dog, sewing, estate-sale shopping, wandering a craft store or let's be honest, you may find me binging some new series (or Friends...) on one of the 1,000s of streaming services out there.
I have a passion for providing a service that will help those of us who have been met with deep loss. I feel that the grief and shock we go through when a loved one dies can often be dismissed. Honoring the deceased does not stop after the funeral. These books give us the chance to revisit their lives and to spark stories so their memory continues long after they are gone. My story continues below.
In 2010, my father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I was 26 years old and the call shook my world. I flew home to Pennsylvania the next day and immediately was thrown into planning a funeral with my 4 siblings and my mom. It was surreal. Honestly, I don't remember much of that time. I recall feeling like the world had stop spinning...Time simply stopped or sped up or both, it was a strange feeling. The things I used to love had no meaning to me, flavors changed, my view of the world flipped upside down and I didn't know what was reality or a dream. As the years moved on, I began to understand that grief was simply something I was always going to have with me. I leaned into it. It was hard at first, but now that it's been some time, it's something I carry with me...like a badge of honor. And I carry this badge as a reflection of my love for him.
In 2015, my father-in-law passed a way just months after being diagnosed with aggressive esophageal cancer. The 3-4 months of treatments, in and out of the hospital, dealing with the fact there was no way to extend his life was a complete system shock. We were angry, scared, heartbroken and defeated. While he was in hospice in his home, we were able to sit with him waiting for the unavoidable end. And it was one of the most difficult moments I have ever lived through. The loss was tragic and relieving at the same time. I learned later as you prepare for someone to die it is called "anticipatory grief." I was asked months later which one was "worse." Honestly, as I sit here and write this, my heart aches for both these people. Loss is loss. Sudden or anticipated. There is truly no difference. The blurry days that follow are some of the worst. We wake up the next day, wishing it was all a nightmare. I learned quickly people expect you to fall back in normal life like nothing ever happened. Grief becomes almost like a secret backpack. We hoist it onto our shoulders and motor on. Both invisible and equally present behind our eyes.
I started my business in hopes to celebrate life's important events. While I still believe in those events, my focus has shifted to the mourning and loss that we all face. From the loss of a dear loved one to the loss of a furry companion, death is one of life's most tragic and equally beautiful events that we, as humans must accept. Everyone has story. And we all have photos just saved on a cloud or stuffed a way in a shoebox. The celebration of life doesn't end after the funeral. These albums can be a sacred place for you to visit, reminisce and look back fondly at an extraordinary life.
My dad, me and our goat Triscut.
The last photo I have with my dad. April 2010