FLINT, Michigan — “There was no medical reason for him not to make it,” explains Megan Shelton, as she recounts the moments leading up to the delivery and passing of her first child, Sage, with husband Mitchell Shelton.
There were no signs, indications, or notice that after 40.3 weeks of pregnancy, they would “call the ambulance [for] the baby and me” and rushed to Hurley Medical Center with Mitchell, distraught, emotional, and disobeying traffic laws speeding “well over 80” behind them.
The diagnosis, she says, was a stillbirth. However, Sage’s abrupt transition would give birth to an unexpected blessing, Sincerely, Sage Jo,
a custom-pressed flower preservation shop — named in honor of their son.
In divine timing, Megan and Mitchell have invited me to their immaculate ranch-style home in Flushing, Michigan, a few weeks before what would’ve been Sage’s first birthday — February 12. Their home is rich with several acres of land, a guest house turned music studio, and adorned head to toe with decorations that elicit feelings of tranquility. We sit inside their living room outlined by vintage wood paneling, white walls, plants, crystals, and one of three dogs nestled on the couch.
Several unique custom-made pressed flowers from Sincerely, Sage Jo's Etsy shop.
Mitchell’s arm is wrapped around Megan, offering comfort as she explains that when the flowers given to them after Sage’s memorial started to wither, she, persevering through grief, saw “that you can press flowers. [And] I don’t remember where or when or what, but I bought gold frames, clipped the flowers off, threw them in there, and shut it.”
That inextricably led Megan to create Sincerely, Sage Jo
. But while business is booming, allowing Mitchell to quit his job, what led to it is heavy, and a tinge of mourning lingers in the air that’s caused the couple to fall back on the one thing they hold dear — spirituality.
“We went and saw a psychic cause it didn’t make any sense. Being spiritual people, we were confused like what the heck happened. They said it wasn’t his time, and he’s coming back in [our] next baby,” Megan explains, with Mitchell nodding in agreement. “One of our biggest things we talked about afterward is that we both never wanted to fall into a dark place. We have both been there before, and you can get there very easily when stuff like this happens. So this was our way of finding light and giving back to people.”
Having gone viral on TikTok thanks to Megan’s successful attempt at pressing Sage’s flowers, the now blossoming business has drawn in customers cross country, asking for pressed flowers of their weddings, memorials, baby showers, and other floral arrangements. “It’s sentimental,” she says, showing me that first pressed frame she made that hangs on the wall.
“They spend thousands on their wedding flowers. Then they get done, and they’re like, what the hell do I do with these?” And to give it that sincere touch, the frames are custom decorated with decals: the person’s last name, a date, and packaged with a rose quartz crystal.
A ready-to-ship order titled “The Powlessess” is pressed and framed after a time-intensive two to three-week process.
At this point, our conversation has moved upstairs past three other rooms — one being a creatively designed baby room — barking dogs, and into another where the magic of flower pressing happens. The serene vibes of downstairs continue here, scattered amongst bricks, sand, books, frames, and boxes. But they tell me, Sincerely, Sage Jo
almost didn’t happen.
For a while, Megan held reservations, but Mitchell gave his wife the extra push to enter into a saturated flower press market. And while business has grown and the financial rewards are abundant, they make it clear that they are appreciative of their success and understand how quickly and easily it can all be taken away.
“I think it’s because we already dealt with so much s***,” elicits Mitchell, staring out the window that showcases a perfect view of the guest house. “We know what it’s like to come from somewhere without money. We worked for all of this, and [anything] can be taken away as you receive it. So I think that’s where humility comes in.”
“I thought you could manifest anything you wanted, which I still believe is true. But we never had the thought that we could lose our son,” adds Megan. “The fact that it happened felt like anything could happen — that anything could be ripped from you.”
And it’s those life lessons that assist them both in being attentive to every order that comes in. For example, they explain to me their process of pressing flowers which Megan says with a laugh, “I’m sure there are actual flower presses, but this works for us.”
“We clip them and kind of thin them out a little bit. Then, you open them up between two pieces of parchment paper, put them in the sleeves of a book, stack them, put heavy bricks on top, label and leave those for 48 hours,” illustrates Megan, as she points to each item described. “You put them in these plastic tubs with wise dry sand. We leave those in for ten days, and then they’re ready to frame.”
"This was our way of finding light and giving back to people.” - Megan Shelton
Customers can order online through their Etsy store, with instructions on the packaging and shipping of the flowers. The entire ordeal is time-consuming, taking Megan and Mitchell an average of “two to three weeks” to complete one order, with up to 10 being worked on simultaneously.
But the result is one of elegance, and it shows throughout the several ready-to-ship orders held up for photographer Bryce Mata and me to see. The hard work and due diligence are paying off through orders, and the feedback received from the community and customers. It reminds them that light still exists.
“I got scared to work in customer service because people can be very cruel. So when we [press flowers], it’s very vulnerable,” expresses Megan. “We’re creating art for them, and [thus far] people have been very kind. If we ever run into an issue, like a frame-breaking, they reach out, and we remake it for them.”
But all of that, they tell me as we continue back downstairs, has granted them peace, ushered in a unique business, and given them a second opportunity at becoming parents. Yes, in June, Megan and Mitchell expect their second child named Sequoia Sage — an homage to sequoia trees and their first child. True to theirs and my spiritual beliefs, in universal law, it means that all is well.
“We asked each other if we could go back and change it, would we have done that. It’s a hard question to answer,” declares Megan. “Where we’re at now, it’s hard to say yes because it changed our lives in such a beautiful way.”
“It feels like it was a game setting, and we signed a contract in the spirit world that was predetermined. It felt like this is a lesson I needed to learn from having to lose a baby in this life,” says Mitchell, having recognized its spiritual significance. “Now, we can help all of these people instead of helping ourselves. So I feel by letting [Sage] go and letting him come back in baby Sequoia, we’ll be able to help millions of people.”
Find Sincerely, Sage Jo on Facebook and Instagram. To order a custom pressed flower frame, visit their Etsy shop.