Shopary

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“Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

These were just a few places in scripture that inspired the foundation and core values of recently launched lifestyle goods brand, Shopary.

Just launched in September 2018, Shopary is an online shopping experience that offers disruptive pricing on thoughtfully curated goods selected from thousands of producers world-wide. The company seeks to give shoppers a shopping experience that reflects integrity in product pricing, the production-process, and quality.

Founded by LA-based husband and wife duo, Vay Ho and Sherry Chan have always been value-conscious shoppers. Familiar with product markups, the couple was committed to purchase products only when they knew they were purchasing at the price point that the product was actually worth. Vay has been an entrepreneur for over a decade, working on the importer sector within the global marketplace. From his 10+ years in the industry, he became aware of the shift in power from distributors and importers, to factories. Sherry has also been engaged in researching and understanding true manufacturer pricing, and from this knowledge was convinced that there had to be a more fair, just, and thoughtful way to get accurate pricing on ethically curated goods.

Thus, Shopary was born! The idea behind the company is to create a platform that gives consumers direct access to factory goods at near factory prices (ie, minimal markup). The company does so much more than create an integrity-filled shopping experience, though. Along with sourcing from traditional manufacturers, they also source products from individual artisans through social enterprises in developing communities which provide economic opportunity to the poor, the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable.

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“Our approach to business is uncompromising –In every part of the experience, from producer to consumer,” Co-founder, Sherry shares. “We know there is a population of consumers who want to do good with their purchases. We’re with them. But we also know that within this population lie consumers who face the barrier of artisanal goods often marked at high prices.”

Sherry and Vay are certainly on to something as they recognize the desire of many consumers to shop ethically. And shouldn’t we as followers of Jesus, be especially conscious of what, and how we consume? Oftentimes consumerism is held up as an idol; pitted against the greed-free, sacrificial, simple lifestyle that Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps in. It’s something we should avoid. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we need to consume to survive — whether it be in the form of food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. If this is the case, rather than avoid consuming altogether, we should instead ask ourselves what it looks like to consume in a just, ethical, and intentional manner. If consumerism is not to become an idol, we must be aware of its power and ask for God’s discernment in how, when, and what we consume.

Sherry & Vay both grew up with a sense of wanting to do good and change the world, as many of us do. Although neither of them grew up in Christian households, faith in Jesus came to be the core of their life mission and career. Having begun following Him in highschool and college, they became rooted in Jesus’ commandments to love one’s neighbor, and to care for the poor. Shopary has become an incredible opportunity to do so actively and practically, by providing accessible ethical consumerism to shoppers, and economic opportunity for those in poverty.

Our faith drives us to action,” Sherry explains. “It drives us to travel across the world to personally meet and recognize the individuals who work so diligently, and we are humbled by their overcoming of difficult circumstances. It drives us to empower them, to [elevate] their voices, to let their stories be heard. We trust in God’s guidance as we navigate the business. We trust His calling for us as we see business as a mission to do justice, to love, and to serve others.”

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Shopary’s Sustainability Collection reflects this pursuit of justice as it partners with organizations that directly help local communities in developing countries. One Sustainability Collection partner specifically trains and employs young women who are at risk (or were formerly victims of) human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Laos. The provision of a secure job then allows for educational opportunity, helping to keep these women out of the trafficking industry. Another partner intentionally employs women with disabilities in Laos. In both Western society and globally, opportunities for those with differing abilities are slim, making it otherwise difficult to break out of cycles of poverty. A partner in Vietnam employs communities from rural villages, providing stable jobs and opportunity for sustainable economic growth. Apart from providing economic growth opportunities, these handcrafted goods are also made with eco-friendly, sustainable materials. They are both good for the communities they’re made in, and good for the planet.

While Vay and Sherry have just officially launched an incredible business, they also recognize the hard work it took to get here. “We’ve faced a lot of self-doubt. It’s a mental and sometimes emotional struggle. We’ve repeatedly asked ourselves if this new concept would work. We’ve faced a lot of setbacks from our original timelines, which resulted in more doubt. But the doubt never stopped us from moving forward.”

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As our own relationship with Jesus is personally reflected in our art, career, and day-to-day life; we too face doubt, emotional struggle, and unexpected setbacks that discourage us from continuing to pursue His kingdom. Whether you’re starting a kingdom-minded business like Sherry & Vay, or simply learning what it means to allow Jesus’ love holistically fill your life, their experience leaves us with a word of encouragement to persevere —

“The biggest battle is the temptation to give up. You overcome a battle every time you choose not to give up. Keep going, even if the world is against you.”

Want to learn more about Shopary’s story, what they’re up to, and shop their products? Check out their website: https://shopary.com/

// By Mariko Sandico

Bathing Beauteas

Mental health and wellness have been both trendy and controversial topics throughout 2018. New studies and perspectives on what it means to “treat yo self”, and practice “self-care” give us data and opinions all across the map, leaving many (including myself) confused as to what it really looks like to live a healthy, balanced life.

Bathing Beauteas co-founders, Joyce Tang and Stephanie Mai, were ahead of this health & wellness trend when they decided years ago that they wanted to start a business which specifically sought to empower women by integrating rest and rejuvenation into a routine lifestyle.

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Their entrepreneurial journey began in high school, where the two met in Business Leadership class. Both women were (and still are) big travelers, with even bigger hearts to love and serve both Jesus, and the communities that surrounded them. Having grown up in the greater Seattle area, the two of them noticed a growing tension (within the cultural climate, particularly for millenials) between work and rest, oftentimes eliminating rest all together for the sake of working harder, doing more, and hoping to achieve success.

Joyce and Stephanie were students at the University of Washington when they had the unique opportunity to “Create a Company” through a 2-quarter-long class which equipped them to start a student-led, school-funded business. Any profits made were to go directly into funding the following year’s cohort. Having been given such an incredible opportunity, they channeled their passion to love the people around them into what became Bathing Beauteas, with the mission to combine historical bathing traditions with modern ingredients to empower the modern woman.”  Joyce and Stephanie built an ethical company that uses locally sourced ingredients to create loose-leaf tea-infused baths. They seek to empower women (and men too, really) through small, routine self-care practices that allow them to reach their highest potential through leadership, creativity, rest, and action.

One can see this investment in leadership, creativity, rest, and action in the 4 top tea bath products that Bathing Beauteas sells:

  1. Cleopatra Chamomile: Cleopatra historically represented female leadership and strength. This blend is specifically meant to empower women to lead – in the workplace, in their friendships and relationships, and in the various places that everyday life takes you. It’s made with milk, honey, and rose/chamomile tea, rooted in Egyptian ancient bathing tradition.
  2. Geisha Green Tea Before Geisha’s were glamorized as prostitutes, they were originally well-respected Japanese artists and entertainers. This blend is meant to promote creativity, and emphasis on artisan-made goods. Rooted in ancient Japanese tradition, this tea bath includes jasmine green tea, rice, and essential oils.
  3. Persephone Pomegranate: In the Grecian story of Persephone, she is tragically taken against her will. However, despite her pain, she is continuously a radically nurturing woman to those around her. This blend is representative of a persistent nurturing spirit, encouraging holistic rest that bubbles up from the individual to those around them. In Ancient Grecian culture bathing was thought to encourage holistic beauty and wisdom. This blend energizes, refocuses, and revitalizes with pomegranate tea, spearmint tea, honey powder, epsom salt, and essential oils.
  4. Lady Lavender: This tea bath is modeled after historical suffragettes in London who took action regularly, ensuring that civil rights were accessible to all. This blend is infused with a soothing lavender tea, reminding one to engage intentionally in both rest and action.

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Bathing Beauteas’ impact on those around them doesn’t stop at their product. Since Joyce and Stephanie both have a heart for justice, they’ve intentionally partnered with non-profits over the years, such as Unbound Seattle, and REST; both local organizations that seek to fight against sex-trafficking. As the company continues to grow, female empowerment remains key to the heart of the company as they work toward hosting entrepreneurship and leadership workshops for young girls. Their socially conscious business model has created curiosity in the Seattle community, even leading to an interview with a local evening news television station!

The company has grown quite a bit over the years, as the Seattle community has received their kind-hearted entrepreneurial spirit gladly. What began as a simple class project, has grown into a thriving business that simultaneously sells their product while hosting events for local creatives and business-owners to build community across the Puget Sound area.

There are exciting things on the horizon as Bathing Beauteas transitions into wholesale selling, while relaunching calligraphy classes, and other Seattle-based events. Although their products are currently sold solely online or in local Seattle shops, Joyce and Stephanie plan to expand the company nationally and globally in the next couple years. Both Joyce and Stephanie have incredible love for the people around them, those that purchase their tea baths, and even those they are yet to meet! This is evident in their product, their socially conscious business model, and the contagious spread of community-building through their events, and daily interactions.

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If you’re in search of a thoughtfully-made, ethically-sourced, wellness-minded gift for yourself or a loved one, check them out at www.bathingbeauteas.com. You can read more about their story, see what new products they recommend, and get connected to the upcoming events they’ll be hosting in the months to come!

// Article by Mariko Sandico

Continuing is Harder than Starting

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I started Wildflower Roots jewelry back in 2015, right after I spent a year living in India working for a social enterprise, Purpose Jewelry. That year in India was spent designing jewelry lines for Purpose Jewelry and working alongside women who are survivors of human trafficking. I had never “designed” jewelry or possessed many jewelry making skills when I arrived in India, but when I left I knew this would be a craft I couldn’t give up. Designing jewelry for me was the creative challenge I needed as an artist. I had painted, crafted, sculpted and dabbled in every other artsy category you can think of most of my life. Discovering jewelry design was the greatest by far. Coming home from living abroad, especially India, was an adjustment, but deciding to keep making jewelry by starting Wildflower Roots was my best decision yet.

Wildflower Roots is simple, everyday jewelry for the everyday woman. The everyday mundane can feel unglamourous at times and yet seasons of life can alter, shift, and change in heartbeat. I live most of my life thinking about what season I am in and miss the unexpected everyday moments of joy, love, and kindness around me. What I love about wildflowers is that they bloom in unexpected seasons, they have roots that are often tough and strong, they are flexible with the wind, populating everywhere. Wildflowers are mainly weeds but they are beautiful ones. My season in India had me clinging to my roots and holding even more tightly to my ultimate root, Christ. During the hard seasons, fun seasons, and seasons of big uprooting change, my roots were what mattered the most. And I can tell you from my professional, plant lady experience (insert sarcasm here) that roots grow inch by inch, steadily and slowly, everyday. I want Wildflower Roots to be a reminder that goes beyond the art of making jewelry and to actively represent the beauty in the mundane of everyday life.

After a couple of years of working part time with Wildflower Roots, I wasn’t able to pay for my bills solely on jewelry sales. I got a full time job working at FLDWRK, a local coworking space in downtown Fullerton. I fell in love my job at FLDWRK and did my best to keep moving WFR forward as much as I could. Last year, I was engaged, planning a November wedding, working a fulltime job and trying to keep up with the demand of WFR. Once December 2017 arrived I was done. I needed a BREAK from WFR. I can’t tell you how guilty I felt. How immediately I felt behind in the jewelry business world, no longer able to keep up with those doing their businesses full time. My husband is my biggest fan and was worried I was quitting, but I felt peace that it was only for a season. The Lord provided a house for us to rent (and we left behind our teeny, tiny one-room backhouse for good). Not only did this new place have all that we had prayed for, but it had one additional blessing. In this house was a spare room and I excitedly began dreaming of creating a new space for Wildflower Roots.

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Over the course of June and July, I created my own little business plan to utilize Instagram in a new way. I turned the spare room into a mini studio and started sketching. Continuing is harder than starting. But I am here showing up as much as I can. Wildflower Roots doesn’t have a website or a Fall/Winter product line, but what Wildflower Roots does have is limited edition jewelry pieces and Instagram Story Pop-Up Shops that happen twice a month. I am so glad to be putting myself out there again designing and making jewelry, all while at my own pace. That break was exactly what I needed in a season where I thought I was done. I’m so glad I stepped back and took a new creative look at my business. In doing this, I realized that instead of trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing, I can go at my own pace, in my own way, and it doesn’t have to be BIG or wow everyone all the time. Whenever, I get caught up in seeing others smashing the jewelry game, I celebrate and admire them all, while reminding myself that I am in a different season. It’s good to feel my roots growing again.

– Meredith Galipault
Founder of Wildflower Roots
(Photos by Kayci Decker)

Interview with Anna Laura, Founder of White Flag

White Flag is a home decor company aimed to spark conversations about Jesus Christ through simple designs inspired by biblical truths. It is an organic way to help you share what you believe with the people who visit your home or office. Their flags are designed to beg the question, “what does that mean?” and open the door for a conversation.

You have a story to tell, a testimony of where you have been and where God is taking you. When you purchase and proudly hang one of their flags, you are opening the door to conversation – be brave and share your story.

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Anna, we are so excited to hear your story! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you so much! I’m so honored you asked me to be a part of Artfully Seeking! I’m Anna. I’m originally from Kansas City, Missouri but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee with my husband, Andrew, and my three kids – Brooklyn, Justice, and River Wilde. My home is a revolving door of animals and is constantly full of plants and books. Handwritten letters, flowers wrapped in paper, sleeping with the windows open, French oldies music, and Autumn are a few of my favorite things. I’m an 8w7 on the Enneagram, I ask a lot of questions, and I love to tell stories. And finally, I’m the founder and creative director of White Flag — a lifestyle, home decor company that makes handmade, linen flags aimed to spark conversations about Jesus Christ through minimal designs inspired by Biblical truths.

How did you develop as a creative throughout your life?

I grew up around music. My dad is a professional musician, so creativity has always been a part of my life. I started playing piano and taking singing lessons when I was younger. I used to love writing poems and songs. I also loved to draw and paint, and had sketch pads nearby throughout most of my teenage years. I experimented with videography and photography, as well. Really, whatever I could get my hands on! I moved to Nashville in 2012, and then started gravitating towards creating apparel and accessories, something I had never done before. At the time, it was just a way to make a little extra money, but it ended up turning into a clothing line that focused on custom denim and t-shirts. Eventually, I burned out and ended up laying that company to rest in 2015 during a really difficult season of my life. At that point, I spent a bit of time just focusing on my family until White Flag came to life in 2017.

I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to my creativity. I don’t gravitate to one form or stay in one lane. I just enjoy creating, whether it be music, drawing, taking photos or creating tangible products, like clothing or home decor. The art of creating and bringing something to life is a beautiful process and I’ve always chased after it.

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How did the idea for White Flag form?

I’m a very visual person. For some people, God speaks audibly…for me, I think God speaks through vision. I’ll have ideas or I’ll see a glimpse of something and it will plant an idea or seed in me that slowly comes to life. White Flag was one of those visions! I remember vividly seeing a man walk into a room with a white flag hanging above a mantle and being overwhelmed with the love of Jesus. Truthfully, it didn’t make sense to me at the time, so I let it sit. A few months later, that vision was still present in my mind. I remembered a story my grandmother told me about her childhood during the war in Germany, and how she had to wave a white flag to surrender to the bomber planes above her home. When that memory came back to me, I connected the vision I had to that story. White flags are the universal symbol of surrender, and when I think of surrender, I think of Jesus. How we surrender to Him and the story He creates for our lives. In that moment, I knew I wanted to create white flags that symbolized surrender while sparking conversations for people to share their stories.

What I didn’t realize was that it was subconsciously rooted in my own desires as a kid, which is absolutely crazy to think about, because it’s proof that Jesus was laying the foundation for White Flag long before I knew it. It’s something I wished I had had when I was learning about Jesus for the first time — a gentle and organic way to ask questions and experience God through storytelling, rather than preaching at people or sharing the Bible verses we have memorized.

I think storytelling is the most powerful vehicle to share Jesus! Mark 4:33 says, “He was never without story.” I’m terrible at memorizing anything, but that verse has always stuck out to me. Jesus was the master storyteller, and I think there’s something to be said for that! When people ask me about White Flag, I always say this — you can argue with someone’s faith, you can argue with someone’s religion, but you can’t argue with someone’s story.

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What has running White Flag taught you about entrepreneurship?

Self-care is important. Entrepreneurship is a constant hustle. There will be days where work needs to be done, but you can’t do that work well if you’re running on empty. Take time for yourself, even if the decision feels unnatural and forced. You, and your company, will be better off because of it.

What is the most difficult thing about running a business?

I think it’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s always been the numbers. Spreadsheets are not my spiritual gift and I get overwhelmed pretty easily when I have to do payouts or budget for the business. Haha!

Thankfully, my husband just joined the White Flag team and has taken over that aspect. But that has always been something I’ve struggled with.

What is your favorite part about what you do?

The unexpected. I love that every day looks and feels different. I also love meeting new people and hearing stories of how White Flag has inspired them or brought joy to their lives. There’s something so magical about being WITH someone as they share their story with you. These days, those kinds of moments are few and far between, and happen mostly on a screen. I never want to take those for granted.

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What is your vision for the future of White Flag?

I’m so excited for the future of White Flag! I have a little notebook, I carry with me everywhere, that I write all of my ideas in. I can’t give away too much, but we’ll be doing limited edition partnerships with musical artists, taking on some new, non-profit partners, and working on a coffee table book of stories rooted in White Flag and surrender. There’s also some branding changes happening in the near future that I can’t wait for everyone to see.

Do you have any advice for creatives trying to make their dream happen?

Welcome change. When you’re creating something from the ground up, you can be so protective of it to the point that you sometimes prevent it from growing and evolving organically. What you thought it was supposed to look like, may not be what God had in mind at all. I’m learning to trust the process and welcome change, even if it feels uncomfortable. That’s where the beauty happens — if not in tangible ways that you can see at first, it’s certainly happening in yourself. And lastly, remember the “why.” Sometimes, all the elements of owning a business or chasing a dream can get a bit overwhelming and it’s easy to lose sight of the “why.” Remember WHY you are chasing this dream and why you started this business. Staying rooted in that is so important and will keep you connected to yourself, God, and your purpose.


IMG_1702Connect: instagram.com/mywhiteflag // Shop: www.whiteflag.org
– Written by Olivia McCash

You Matter

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You matter.

It really pains me to see an extreme lack of purpose in the world today. It seems like left and right, people are taking their own lives or taking the lives of others. It’s really scary stuff, and if I’m being honest I don’t like talking about it, or even writing about it. But, I believe, something needs to be said.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God’. He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

This is our purpose, friends. We weren’t placed on this broken planet for nothing; we have a task to do. God calls us to be ambassadors of Jesus. In other words, we are called to be the hands and the feet of Christ. So often, I get caught in the lie that I am purposeless. I’m just a useless speck, here to be alone and suffer the consequences of my sins. Oh my, is that far from the truth. JESUS SUFFERED MY CONSEQUENCES. He suffered your consequences too. We don’t have to carry our sins, it’s already been nailed to the cross.

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The second part of the verse is really important: “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us.” God knew that on this Earth, we would be completely incapable of perfection. Thus, He sent Jesus to take our punishment, so that we don’t have to suffer for our mess-ups. God saved us; we can live in the light of grace. We’re free to let go of the weight of our mistakes, so now we can live with freedom and joy! We are still going to be imperfect people, though, because we live inside an imperfect world. So, it’s so important to remember that you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time. God still uses us in the midst of our brokenness; we don’t need to have it all together! We have purpose in our struggles, not only in our victories.

Exodus 14:14
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”

Living on a broken planet is really hard. Something I’ve learned to understand, amidst the hopelessness and loneliness, is to lean into the Father when I feel like I cannot hold myself up anymore. Because we live in a corrupt world, the devil is constantly feeding us lies that we aren’t enough. We don’t look good enough, we aren’t smart enough, we aren’t successful enough, we aren’t popular enough, we aren’t fit enough; the list goes on and on. If these were true, God wouldn’t be filling our lungs with air everyday. You don’t have to fight these lies alone, the Lord will fight for you. Rest in Him, and allow Him to create in you a pure heart and a clean mind. Be still, and know, in due time, everything will be good, because He is good.

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Every single morning we wake up, God breathes life into us because He wants us to be here. If He thought we were purposeless or thought our time was done on Earth, He wouldn’t be breathing into us each morning. If you are reading this, you woke up this morning; God is not finished with you yet. God sees something in us that made Him send His only Son to die. We cannot say we have no purpose here.

We are here, we matter.

Written by Sam Burton // Photos by Ben Dulay & 777 Collective


777 Collective

WE GIVE PEOPLE A VOICE THROUGH APPAREL
LOCALLY & GLOBALLY | SAN DIEGO, CA | EST. ’15

We at 777 Collective are committed to pursue the art of storytelling in order to love fearlessly, carry hope, and stoke curiosity. We want to bring it back to the heart of the stories. So we’re tapping into the everyday storyteller and giving them a platform to find their voice—for them to tell their story to the world. Brokenness is made beautiful here. As we crave to bring light to the dark reaches of the world, this is how we do it. We set the stage. All you need to do is step up and share it with us.

P E O P L E  +  S T O R I E S  +  C R E A T I V I T Y  =  V O I C E

IMG_0809We founded our brand upon the belief that everybody is a storyteller and that each story matters. The truth is that God handpicked each person’s narrative for a purpose and it is our desire to not only share our story, but also to create a platform for other people to share theirs. When we choose a life where we share stories, we get to become part of one another’s lives, stepping foot into the chaos and the mess of life. But there is a greater story: a story of hope, redemption, grace, and eternal joy. This story is a free gift, and it is up to us to choose to become a part of it. That is why your voice matters.

— LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN —

What you wear is an extension of self—who you are. In simplest form, it is who you want people to see you as. However, culture can promote an “idealized” or narrow portrayal of appearance. Whether we succumb to it or not, the “sex appeal” of fashion (even moderately) can take precedence in our lives. Yes, clothing is an avenue of expression. But it should express our inward beauty and a comfort of the skin we are in. Our flaws, our blemishes, and our scars make us who we are.

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And so this lifestyle brand is meant to contribute towards this expression. We at 777 Collective don’t want to simply participate in fashion trends. We dream beyond the norm. We want to push for truth and meaning that is timeless. We seek to tap in the lives of real storytellers who are unashamedly raw with their stories. End of story.

Shop 777 Collective here: https://www.777collective.com