Master Piece in Progress

 

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Back in 2014 while I was working in Southeast Asia, I became very fascinated by the idea of having a tent at home, which would signify the Holy presence of God. I wanted a refuge, a resting place, a space where I can always go to encounter the One I love. Yes the Spirit of God is everywhere and is not restricted by manmade things, but there is something very special about having a designated place for the person that you most honor and treasure.

I was engaged then and due to fly back to London to be married in a few months’ time. I called my fiancé then, hubby now, and asked whether we could have a tee pee tent at home. He said yes! So this tent has been my place of intimacy, rest and soul-searching. It is where I bring my utmost brokenness, joys and mysteries to the One my soul delights in.

When it came to the time of forming some kind of a brand for this artwork-making business, I had this logo in mind. It came to me one time while I was worshipping the Lord.

I had no pen and paper with me so I quickly sketched it with my finger on iPhone using the doodle app, not wanting any detail to slip away. I saw something like the shape of a tee pee tent, and wings on both sides, overlooking the thing in the middle. That reminded me of the cherubims that guarded the ark of the covenant. At the same time, I had this thought that the name should start with an A, which is kind of like the shape of the tent in the logo. Then suddenly, it all made sense! “The Ark of Presence, where Love and Glory dwells” became the identity of the brand.

Moses said to God, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
(Exodus 33:15-16)

My hope is that everything about The Ark would breathe the glory of God. If the Presence of God is not in this, it would be completely in vain.

So, the hands and the heart behind The Ark is this girl (or rather married woman) who adores wild daisies, succulents, cacti, leaves, branches, trees, sunshine, extremely warm weather, the sea, pebbles, seashells, sand, being in water, adventur-ing with flip flops and backpack, scented candles, open space, quietness, joyfulness, childlikeness, reading while sipping tea, genuine love songs, dance performances that make you cry, vulnerable story-telling, and different cultures in the world.

I am a lover of love and beauty – a lover of the Person of love and beauty and glory and grace and truth – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my beginning, my process, and my destination – in all of my existence and everything I do. He brought me from death to life; an amazing, hope-filled, darkness crushing and light-shining life.

I am an art psychotherapist by training and have had the privilege of using the profession to reach the lost, bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free. Before that I was a graphic designer / art director. I had left the design career to carry out the current ‘mission’ God laid on my heart.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetHowever, I have never actually stopped creating. A couple of years ago I found myself feeling rather discontent about the gifts I was buying for friends’ birthdays, weddings, Christmas, special occasions or simply to show encouragement. I started to hand-make different types of art pieces to give to family and friends and strangers (this is a ‘custom’ that I developed as a child, I’m grateful to my parents who loved and kept the endless Disney cards I painted for them).

In October 2016, after a series of amazing events and encouraging words from friends, I decided to step out and start a tiny, tiny little online business, selling ‘stuff’ that I make. Jesus called me to start The Ark, to create and sell artworks for His glory; to bring hope, light and love to this weary and broken world. I had very little idea how it might work. And I am still learning a lot each day.

I had a lot of struggles to start with. I was afraid my work was not good enough, that it’s not worth looking at, that people wouldn’t be interested, that it’s going to be a failure, that it was just a projection of ugly self-ambition. However, the Lord Jesus and my wonderful hubby keep encouraging me and spurring me on the right track. It is so easy to get back to that dark loophole and compare with others and lose the vision and the joy of creating, but I thank God that ultimately He defines ‘success’, not me, not anyone else. If I seek to please people, I lose everything. But if I seek to do everything for the glory and pleasure of Jesus, I would be the richest I can be. I have learnt and am learning that I always just need an attitude of a daughter making something for her Father – all love and no fear.

Everything in The Ark is hand-crafted by love, inspired by nature, and filled with life-giving thoughts. It is my passion to impart encouragement, childlike hope, joy, love, and dreams to the world.

One piece that I’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while, and I’m thrilled to release, is my new “Master Piece in Progress” tote bag*. The inspiration for this bag came from the book of Ephesians: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph2:10) and a quote by Sophia Bush: “’You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”

 

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I am astounded that God would call us His masterpiece. We are created in His image – the image of pure love, light and holiness. His wonder is placed inside of each of us, no matter where and when and how we are born. We are created in Him, through Him, for Him – our life purpose is to worship and enjoy Him. I find it extremely easy to appreciate the beauty of God, but the beauty of myself? I’m not so sure. However, God calls us His masterpiece. He creates as He speaks. Even when we’re not quite there yet, that’s how He sees us.

I’ve been learning to give grace to myself and the rest of broken humanity – which includes anyone from a family member who gets on my nerves to traffickers who sell and abuse people for money; from the most well-off and arrogant person in the world, to street children who don’t know their worth and cannot imagine anything beyond picking food from garbage dumps.

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I pray that this bag will serve as a reminder, wherever you bring it, that we are all hand-crafted by the Artist of the universe – unique and holy and made for love. We all deserve respect and honor; and at the same time, we all require patience and grace from others, because we are all “not quite there yet”. But the process is beautiful. Because the Artist is beautiful. I am so thankful that I get to share a piece of my heart with you in this simple tote bag.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
-Pablo Picasso

I give all the glory to my amazing God – the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit – the Creator of creators, who loves and inspires me daily; who has given me courage to be me, and a fearless heart to dream again.

-Bonny

*Artfully Seeking subscribers receive 10% off their tote purchase until April 18, 2018.

 

 

Genuine & Ginger

img_9276Meet Kyla Donner, the founder and maker behind jewelry and home goods brand Genuine & Ginger. I first began following Kyla and her gorgeous creations on Instagram a few months back and was instantly struck by her keen eye for design, unique aesthetic and her honest and poignant perspective on her business. After learning more about Genuine & Ginger’s story, I’m even more enamored with the brand.

Read on to learn more about the beginnings of the brand, what Kyla’s day-to-day looks like as a creative business owner and more!

Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH GENUINE & GINGER, AND WHEN DID JEWELRY AND UNIQUE GOODS-MAKING INITIALLY SPARK YOUR INTEREST? 

img_9295A: I have always had busy hands, as a kid I was always DIY-ing, making things out of my old clothes, or figuring out how I could make the better version of something that I saw in the store. So I think to build a business based on hand-making things is not surprising to anyone who knows me. This brand was actually created out of a failure. I had taken a couple years off from making and creating things because the business I had prior to Genuine & Ginger had taken over my life, and not in a good way. I lost my voice, my passion and my integrity as a creator. I instantly became someone consumed by a need to make money and push product.

Q: GIVE US INSIGHT INTO WHAT YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOKS LIKE WHILE RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS – IF THERE EVEN IS A ‘TYPICAL’ DAY. 

img_9307A: Well it often starts with me convincing our dog Jeffery that we need to get up and get to work. He is not ever convinced that it is a good idea, haha! But then I make some coffee, head into the studio, light up some candles and begin mapping out the day. I have to make a full-on list of things that need to happen all week and then I list all the tasks under each day of the week that they need to happen on. Otherwise, I will sit scrolling through Instagram thinking I have nothing to do. But everyday is so different, it can be delivering wholesale orders to our in-town stockist, working on woven commissions, fulfilling orders, trip to the post office, designing new items, attempting to get through emails, taking product and lifestyle photos for social media, meeting with potential clients or collaborating with other designers, etc. I am usually the most productive at night, so the bulk of my work happens between 7 p.m. and 1:00 p.m…I don’t sleep much.

Q: WHAT ROLES DO SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRODUCT STYLING PLAY IN YOUR BUSINESS? I’M KIND OF OBSESSED WITH YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED! 

img_9298A: Personally I have tried to be very authentic and real when it comes to social media. I am very open and my social media is very clearly just an extension of me as a designer and creative. I don’t post anything that I don’t feel represents my brand or the vision I am creating. I live and work in the Southwest so I use a ton of earth tones and neutrals in my feed, and try to stay consistent with my editing and caption content because I want people to have an honest and consistent connection with the work we do. I have a love-hate relationship with social media because it does take so much of my time, when if I am honest I would rather be designing and creating new work, but I know that there is a special bond that is created when I share my process, my inspiration and work with people. It allows me to have direct community with the people I create jewelry and woven goods for. So in that way I do love it.

Q: WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR OWN CREATIVE BUSINESS; WHAT’S THE MOST FULFILLING? 

A: There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to get done. I have to know my limits and know what my downfalls are so I can reach out and connect with people who are good at those things. But the hardest thing by far is disconnecting my identity from my work. As a artist that sells my creative work it is hard not to put your worth in whether a design sells well or if it doesn’t. Being able to separate yourself from your work and to know that regardless if an item sells out or never sells at all, it doesn’t say anything about who I am as a creative, as a human, as a woman.

Q: HOW DOES YOUR FAITH AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS AND CREATIVE DECISIONS?

A: I think that knowing that I am not in this alone has been massive for me. Every time things get really hard and I don’t know if I can keep doing this, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me that I don’t have to fear, because I am taken care of. I don’t need to freak out over finances because his promises aren’t broken and they belong to me. It has helped me be brave in pursuing things, it has kept me going on the hard days and it has brought me peace that I don’t have to have all the answers. I have so much freedom to be who he has made me to be without fear of what people will think.

Q: FOR OTHER MEN/WOMEN WHO WANT TO LAUNCH THEIR CREATIVE BUSINESS (ON OR OUTSIDE OF ETSY), WHAT WOULD YOUR BEST WORDS OF ADVICE BE? 

img_9283A: KNOW YOUR WHY!! Know exactly why you are pursuing your business. On the crappy and stressful days you will need to know why you started to begin with to keep you pushing forward despite all opposition, fatigue or criticism. Have people around you who know your ‘why’ also, so they can remind you when you haven’t showered in days, are deep in piles of work and have tears streaming down your face.

“To any entrepreneur: if you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it.” -Catherine Cook (Co-Founder of myYearbook)

KEEP UP WITH KYLA AND GENUINE & GINGER ON THEIR WEBSITE, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK – DROP HER A NOTE AND SAY HI!

Written by the incredibly talented Lindsay Shoemake via her awesome blog www.thatworkinggirl.com.

Drift & Loom

My name is Angela Norton and I’m a 19 year old who decided to create an online business. You may think I’m crazy to start a small business while trying to manage studying, a job, and a social life, but my answer is “why not?” We have our whole life ahead of us and there’s no need to waste our time waiting for the “right timing”. Drift & Loom is a tapestry business I created to help make your space a little bit more like you.

Drift & Loom started as an idea in May. I’ve always wanted to create a small business, but told myself I need to wait till I’m 30. One day, I decided to do something about my dreams and put them into action. So, here I am starting a business at the age of 19 and in the middle of college.

Some battles I’ve faced while pursuing this business was trying to tell myself that I can do this. I don’t need a degree to create something I love doing. I just need to keep remembering that wherever this may lead me, there is a plan in that route.

In the next few years, I hope to see myself expanding my products and being creative with the talents I’ve been given. I hope to also inspire others to go after their dreams. Just know, it’s never too early or too late to do something you love.

For more about Drift & Loom, please visit: www.driftandloom.com

Words & Photos by Angela Norton // Additional photos courtesy of Drift & Loom