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

Wander By Hand

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Wander By Hand is a small business that puts to paper hand drawn and written breaths of fresh air for the soul. From weddings, custom work, prints, to handmade pieces each one piece is uniquely created. Michelle Enrique, The Founder and Artist of Wander By Hand, grew up with love for art deeply rooted in the essence of who she is, but was first inspired to take on calligraphy when a fellow classmate in college wrote her name in such a beautiful manner. A simple moment breathed to life an intricate passion in her heart. Since then, a dream, “to fill homes with beautiful words, weddings with the perfect touch, and hearts with the beauty of creativity” has begun to flourish.

As I have begun to know Michelle via email, I have been privileged to witness glimpses of God’s heart.

He is relentless in His pursuit for not only our hearts, but for us to behold all the goodness He has prepared for each of us individually.

From her life story to her journey as an artist, God’s hand is evident in a powerful, meaningful way. When God has called you to something and you step into it in obedience, there’s no limit to where God will take you and this is only the beginning for Wander By Hand.

ABOUT MICHELLE ENRIQUEZ

Her story as a creator and Christ follower go hand-in-hand. Growing up, she loved creating. She grew up with loving parents, who divorced while she was young. During this time, her mom soon took her family to a non-denominational church in the Chicago suburb. It was there that she accepted Christ.

Growing up she continued to paint, draw, color, sculpt, and invest her time with anything and everything art related. Furthering into high school, her desire to create broadened into the admiration of visual arts and photography.

I loved the quiet of the darkroom, the process of capturing beauty through my own point of view, and the challenge to see beauty in all things.”

Transitioning into her college years, her artistic journey takes a turn into a dark valley as her heart drifts from the Lord. But God is faithful and even through the darkness that enveloped her during this season of her life His light still shone, His hand was always at work, and His heart was always for her. It wasn’t until a much-needed breakup with a 4 year relationship that her search for the Lord reignited as she refocused her heart and mind on the Lord.

To touch on that story, this breakup is one of my all-time favorite stories on what restoration looks like…because now, I am married to the man I had been dating and it couldn’t be better! He found the Lord, and I re-found the Lord, and now he’s a Youth Pastor…I genuinely love how God pieced together our story!

After college, she started to tap into her creativity once again. What began as a hobby has turned into a heartbeat.

I love championing on the creative in all of us. It’s so wild how artwork flows out of what the Lord is doing in my heart.”

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For the first few years of taking on this artistic endeavor, she felt extremely foolish. Foolish that she wasn’t utilizing her degree in Spanish and Global Art History and silly that she thought she was even good enough to pursue this. It wasn’t until she fully humbled herself to the Lord that she was finally comfortable identifying as an artist. When she finally identified as an artist is when she finally felt empowered to pursue art as something more than just a hobby. While there are times where she doubts if she can do this, she is reminded that being an artist is not so much about where your finances come from; but about identity. As an artist, she has been equipped for this very thing to create.

Wander By Hand started up in 2014, and until recently she only invested part of her time into it. As of now, she is working on Wander By Hand full time. This huge leap of faith is only the beginning for how far God is going to take not only this small business, but this artistic soul. Michelle is not just an artist. She is a masterpiece and each piece she creates has not only glimpses of her heart, but God’s heart in her. The genuine love flows from her hands to paper to your hearts.

Q&A WITH MICHELLE ENRIQUEZ

What would you say are a few of your struggles?

Comparison. Crossing the street on foot. When my love language of affirmation becomes a source of validation; I have to always be careful with that! Mental math. Discontentment I’ve got the heart of a world traveler. Over analyzing myself and all that I say to people….and many more.

What motivates you?

Having TIME; coffee; and Jesus.

What is your favorite medium to work with?

My favorite medium is ink and watercolor. With calligraphy, I love not tracing my words. There’s a beauty in knowing I’ve only got one shot to create the lettering. With watercolor, I love how it allows me to slow down. The two combined is like a rush and a meditation all at the same time.

What does your creative process look like?

My creative process 100% of the time begins with my face in the Bible, or in another theological book. My ideas always stem from there. Some sort of word or phrase will always speak to me, and from there I letter that word/phrase in a couple different ways. I’m also very inspired by the kitchen, the garden, and nature. So, I study a lot of florals, fruits, herbs etc. and like to use them in my work.

How do you overcome a creative block?

I’ll read more, look at others’ art to get inspired, not paint for a while, and/or try something new. Often, I find if I’m stuck, I need to do something different.

When did you realize that you could make a career out of your art?

I didn’t start to truly create at all until after college. It began as creating calligraphy pieces of quotes and scriptures for friends and family. I do remember my first sale. It was to my former employer (my boss at Lululemon) who was gifting our team with cards. I’ll never, ever forget that. It was the first time I thought, wow I can actually make money with this?

What advice would you give to any creative?

We are ALL called to be creative. This is the advice I would give to anyone who is struggling in their identity as an artist. We are made in the image of a CREATOR. He wove this into our SOULS! Whether you are in business or hold a paintbrush in your hand, you have the ability to think creatively, create artistically, or converse with creativity. Alongside this truth, I would encourage every creative to continue to dig into Jesus. He is a never ending well of creativity. There’s a TON of beauty in a relationship with the Lord, and that will outpour from you the more you press into Him and your relationship with Him.

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How did you come up with the name Wander By Hand?

I’ll never forget it. I was sitting on my parent’s couch; the sun was beaming through their big front windows and I just sat there and prayed. It kind of just drifted into my mind. I then texted my brother, my now husband, and sister-in-law. Each of them responded “YES”, and I knew it was the one!

What is your vision for Wander By Hand?

This is a big one, and a really vulnerable one. I would love to be full time with this. And not full-time in the struggling senses, but full-time to the point where I can financially support my husband and I and our future family.


Since I stumbled upon Wander By Hand on Instagram a few months ago, my life has been extremely blessed with not just words of encouragement but a sister in Christ. Michelle is such a genuine soul and getting to know her even if just through her art is a blessing in itself. Her genuine heart for the Lord and purposeful way of living is inspiring and contagious.

I am ever amazed by how a few words can make such a huge impact on a bad situation and in one’s life. They are indeed “sweeter than honey” like Psalm 119:103 states. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Psalms 18:21) and what better way to bring life into your workplace, special event, or home than by including some meaningful written art by Wander By Hand to not only decorate and inspire but to bring about change in your life and in the lives of those around you.

By Maali Padro // Photos courtesy of Wander by Hand

Walking with a Purpose, in Nicaragua

unnamed-29Adam Asher Wattenbarger is a broadcast media professional and adventurer. As host and creator of the video series, “The Edge of Adventure with Adam Asher,” he takes us to some of the most remote corners of the globe in search of adventure and purpose. Adam also hosts “The Edge of Adventure Podcast” where he introduces his audience to some of the most inspiring adventurers on the planet. To find Adam’s video series, podcast, travel blog, YouTube channel and more, log on to TheEdgeOfAdventure.com.

Adam recently sat down with Jorge Alvarado, CEO and Co-founder at Walking with a Purpose in Nicaragua, Central America. He has chosen to share this interview exclusively with ArtfullySeeking.com.

Jorge, you and I have spoken many times about Walking with a Purpose. For our readers today, how would you describe WWAP?

We are a 501c3 Christian organization. What we are doing in Nicaragua is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through community development and water initiatives. We are about creating opportunities for growth through training and empowerment. We believe that through training, communities and individuals can reach their full potential.

Why have you chosen to work in Nicaragua?

I’m a Nicaraguan that grew up in the States. Came back here in 1996, I’ve worked in ministry for the last 14 years of my life, and I’ve seen the need to empower, train communities. I want to give people the same opportunities I received that changed my life forever:

1. Someone presented the Gospel to me.
2. Opportunities to learn and grow through education.

I love my country, and I believe that we can impact many lives through our work.

He > I

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What parts of the country does Walking with a Purpose work in? And what types of need have you all encountered?

Currently we are working in the southern part of Nicaragua, which includes the Granada, Rivas area. Because of the current situation that we are facing, we have realized many needs, from a community level to an organizational level.

At a community level we realize we need to continue to partner with communities to help them build up their work ethic through training and allowing them to be part of solutions in their own communities. As far as needs at an organizational level, we want our donors to understand that we are trying to build long lasting relationships, but also long lasting solutions. And that poverty can be fought with empowerment and programs that are sustainable at a community level. You could say these are needs as well as challenges.

Walking with a Purpose works in rural areas. Describe what life is like in some of these areas?

Rural areas in Nicaragua live off the land, all of their income comes agricultural activities. For the most part, the men do most of the work outside the home, and they make an average of $2 to $3 dollars per day. As you can imagine, it’s not much and that’s why most live below the poverty line. What we also have to remember is that these men are seasonable workers, which means they migrate to different areas and sometimes country to work the fields. Most men will be away from their families for months at a time.

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You say the need is great in these areas. What are some of the greatest needs you’ve encountered?

The need is great in a lot of areas. Most kids in rural Nicaragua receive schooling only through the 6th grade. Not many educational opportunities for them after that. We would like to find a way not only to improve the conditions in schools, but also a way to give students scholarships that would let them continue their studies beyond the 6th grade.

Basic necessities like clean water and sanitation are also areas that communities need help with. You can’t have community development without clean water.

The current situation you referenced, what is it? What’s currently happening in Nicaragua?

On April 18th of this year, protests started over changes in our laws to our national retirement fund. The changes were not at all, so the people wanted to make their voices heard. But these protest were met with brutal force by government supporters, national police and paramilitaries. University students were the first to march in streets in different parts of Nicaragua. This then led to a national protest against the Ortega regime. The regime in turn responded with deadly force, killing over 500 people, hundreds missing and thousands injured. The protests now are about democratic changes and early elections to replace the current regime. Nicaragua is also demanding that those in charge of the deaths and brutal repression be held accountable. There is a civil alliance that is made up of university students, private sectors, churches and farmers union. This civil protest started 4 months ago and will continue until justice is served and early elections are held.

Nicaragua is such a beautiful country with such a great, warm and welcoming culture. It must be hard to watch so many Nicaraguans now suffering at the hands of their own government.

We do have a beautiful country, but what makes this country great is the people. Nicaraguans have gone through a lot in the last 40 years, but we are resilient and tough. And despite the hardships and adversity, we are loving and warm. It’s been difficult to put into words what it feels like when the government that is supposed to protect us is the same government that is killing innocent people for thinking differently, for wanting a better future. But through adversity we have decided to stand together. This political situation has united us even more, and a people that stands united will never be defeated. Better days are ahead for Nicaragua.

These are difficult, dark days for Nicaragua. And yet you always exhibit a sense of hope and peace. Where does this come from?

It’s not easy when everything around you, everything you’ve trusted, everything that gives you a sense of peace has been taken away. I think, in a sense, it’s given us believers an opportunity to go back to the basics of trusting the Lord. It challenges us to believe Him and trust Him even when things don’t make sense to us. My peace and hope come from Him. In His word, in Hebrew 13:6, says: So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” I take that word with faith. We are living in tough times, but our peace and provision comes from Him, so even when everything else looks like it’s falling apart, I keep my eyes on Him, trusting every step. We’re not called to understand Him, we’re called to follow Him in faith. That’s what my family and I try to do everyday.

Tell me about the work that Walking with the Purpose does. What does that look like? Who do you help? And how do you think they respond to it?

Walking with a Purpose is about community development and water initiatives. Some of the communities that we partner with have hand pumps, but these pumps break down after a certain time, which means that private contractors will repair the well for the community. That repair costs the communities about $140 per well every three months. So what we are doing through our ‘Training with a Purpose’ program is creating a water committee, training community members on how to repair, putting them in contact with a supply chain for parts. And we are also teaching them financial literacy so they know how to create funds for their well. This whole process allows communities to keep their wells in working conditions at a low price. But what matters most is that it’s a long-lasting, sustainable solution in which the community participates and become agents of change. We are breaking the cycle of dependency that has held us back for such a long time, and communities have responded with enthusiasm. They are engaged and are hungry for knowledge. With ‘Training with a Purpose,’ we have lowered the cost of repair to under $4 per household per year, but we have also come alongside them in creating a healthy work ethic that will be passed down to generations to come.

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Providing people the opportunity to learn is something that means a lot to you, I believe.

It means everything to me. I’ve seen the benefits of it in my own family. My mother grew up in poverty in a rural area of Nicaragua, and every time I go to a community and see children, I think of her. My mother’s life changed because someone presented the Gospel to her, but they also gave her the opportunity to get educated. Those two factors changed her life and my life forever. So providing opportunity does work. It does create a better future. It does impact and change lives. I’ve seen it firsthand. This is our vision and hope for the future: That we can continue to partner with communities in providing long-lasting changes in people’s lives.

I recall you mentioning recently, in one of the podcast interviews we did, that you and your family enjoy working with children. Why is that?

I love kids. I have 4 of my own. I think kids are real, they don’t hold back and they keep me on my toes. I like how genuine they are. But what I love most about kids is getting that opportunity to impact their lives in a positive way. Through children, we have a great opportunity to change our future by giving them a chance to reach their full potential. Children that grow up in communities where there is poverty at times often lose hope. They stop dreaming, and they never explore their full potential. We can help prevent that.

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What are some of the ways that people in the U.S. (and around the world) can help Walking with a Purpose?

As believers we have a shared responsibility to help those in need. Now Nicaragua needs us more than ever. I believe in the work we are doing. I’ve seen changes in communities that will last a lifetime. So we need to continue to train, teach and share the Gospel. We need donors that share our vision and that understand what we are trying to accomplish. We currently have, just in Granada alone, 10 communities that have a total of 60 wells. And the majority of them are broken. Which means people are walking long distances to get clean water or they are going back to drinking water from contaminated sources. We have a great opportunity to impact the lives of many, but we can’t do it alone. If you would like to donate, you can go to our website page and give as the Lord leads you: www.our-purpose.org. We have many needs to fulfill as an organization so we can be more effective in communities. Thank you for the chance to share about our work.

Absolutely, Jorge. I always enjoy hearing about Walking with a Purpose. I, too, am grateful for the opportunity to share our conversation with ArtfullySeeking.com. For those who want to learn more, I suggest they check out our recent audio interviews here:

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Thank you all for listening (and reading). Thank you for your concern for Nicaragua. May you always be #BeyondStatusQuo. And God bless you.


Photos courtesy of The Edge of Adventure and Walking with a Purpose.

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.

IMG_1718PC: Krissy Leigh Creative

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

Sharing [Encouragement] Can Be Fun

By Jessica Sauer

IMG-1242One of my favorite books of all time is actually a picture book titled, “I Like Your Buttons.”

In this book, a simple compliment from a student to a teacher – “I like your buttons” – travels far and wide, causing a ripple effect of positivity in the main character’s school and around her neighborhood, brightening the day of more than just the original person. Eventually, the compliment train makes its way back to the original compliment-giver in a sweet ending to the book.

Now, I know that not all compliments have the lifespan of an entire day like in this picture book. But I dare to dream about what if compliments did. What if one, single act of kindness, could change the course of someone’s life? What if one, encouraging complement influenced someone in such a way that they adjusted the trajectory of their future? I understand these are big things to hope for. I also know that from deep within my heart, I believe in the power of encouragement.

“How do you know if someone needs encouragement?
If they are breathing.”
// S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A Founder

Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – needs encouragement. Encouragement is something that every single person who is alive and breathing is in need of. From hospital staff to bloggers, from stay-at-home mommas to those in ministry, from personal trainers to horseback riders — if they are breathing, they are in need of encouragement.

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So what exactly is encouragement? What is this thing we’re all craving, the thing that is in such high demand? Encouragement, simply put, is believing truth. This is easier said than done, and usually requires step number one: acknowledging lies. This is a hard step that many skip over, but it is imperative before moving onto step number two: replacing lies with truth. It looks something like this…

LIE: I’m a failure.
TRUTH: I am brave for trying; one mess-up, one mistake, does not define me or my future; I am not a failure.
LIE: I’m unworthy of love.
TRUTH: I am valuable, I am deserving; I am so worth loving.
LIE: I’m not enough.
TRUTH: I am able, I am capable, I am chosen. Because Jesus resides in my heart, and He is Enough, I am therefore enough.

Awareness of the lies that we are believing is a good first step. Lies are sneaky, they slither into your mind and heart in half-truth ways. But half-truths, fears, and lies are not what we are called to live in. No, we are called to live and walk in the freedom that Christ has called us into!

Fear is such a loud liar, but he doesn’t have the final say.

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Philippians 4:8 (NIV) states: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

These excellent and praiseworthy things are what we as Christians are to focus our minds and hearts on. I’ll be the first to admit, thinking about excellent and praiseworthy things can be challenging. Gossip, sin, and bad influences are just a handful of the many things that tear me away from constantly thinking of excellent and praiseworthy things. I even made it one of my monthly goals, this past spring, to focus on “EAP” things – that is, Excellent And Praiseworthy things! It was an intentional goal that I had to set in order to train my mind and my heart to focus on what Philippians 4:8 discusses. (By no means have I mastered this goal, but I am, with grace, learning to adjust my focus.)

Encouragement that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy is certainly of the Lord. It is my hope that when I encourage others, they don’t see me but, instead, they see the Lord. My prayer is that others will get a glimpse of God through my encouragement. I am simply a vessel of Christ, utilized by Him to share His light and love through my words of encouragement.

Encouragement is important for artists because of how easy it is to believe lies. Earlier, we talked about lies and the importance of acknowledging a lie and replacing it with truth. I want to take a moment and call out a lie most artists (including myself!) believe: the lie of “enough.”

Sometimes I fear that I am not enough (Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, etc.). Other times, I fear that I am too much (Am I too passionate? Too crazy to believe this idea will actually work? Too forward while marketing my services?). The lie of enough. The truth of the matter, however, is this: I am not too little, and I am not too much. I am enough, because Jesus is Enough, and He abides within me. Hallelujah for His standards, and not my own!

Encouragement is also important for artists to share with others. As creators, it gets us beyond ourselves and out of a self-focused, inward posture. Instead, it fixes our gaze on the good in others in a God-honoring way. This brings about opportunity for collaboration and community, both of which can be done in a Christ-centered way.

Encouragement is not only biblical and important for creatives, but encouragement is valuable for everyone (for the artist and non-artist, for the believer and non-believer).

Encouragement is important because it empowers and inspires in a motivational way, which can, in turn, cause a ripple effect of love, kindness, and joy – just like in the book “I Like Your Buttons.”

Encouragement, when genuine, can change the world. Maybe not the entire world, but someone’s world. And isn’t that worth it?


So who am I, and what is it that I am doing? I’m so glad you asked!

mailbox 1My name is Jess, and, as someone who loves (1) writing, (2) encouraging others, and (3) the lost art of a good, ol’ fashion letter, I wanted to do something that could combine all three of these elements.

I have seen the need for encouragement, especially that of personalized, handwritten notes. A handwritten letter of love and encouragement shows the recipient that time was taken, thought was given, and authentic intentionality was shown. I saw a need, and I had the capacity to fill the need, so I thought to myself, “What am I waiting for?!”

“Say ‘yes’ to what matters.”
– Lara Casey –

I began brainstorming what it would look like to send encouraging snail mail to others – family and friends, yes, but mostly acquaintances and strangers from all over the world. And this is what I came up with:

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Sharing Can Be Fun is a movement started and run by me, Jess! I write and send handwritten letters of encouragement to others, once a month, for the course of 12 months. That’s one year of snail mail encouragement, sent with kindness and love, from me to you!

Individuals can sign up to receive letters for themselves, letters for a friend, or letters for both themself and a friend. Once I have received the mailing address(es), you can let me know if you have any prayer requests you’d like for me to discuss in the letters. It’s no-strings-attached and no cost. Simply snail mail encouragement, from me to you, because Sharing Can Be Fun! And because encouragement is so sparse these days – so needed – and if I can do something about filling that need, then I’m all for it.

So, send in a letter request now for both you and your friends. Even if you’re a tiny bit interested, reach out! Direct message me at @SharingCanBeFun on Instagram, or email me at SharingCanBeFun@gmail.com.

Don’t want to necessarily request a letter, but want to get involved? I’d love for you to reach out and inquire about ways you can support the Sharing Can Be Fun movement. Because your small support can actually become a great act of love when we trust God to multiply our efforts – like bread and fish.

It’s about meeting each unique individual where they’re at.
It’s about loving them well.
It’s about no-strings-attached inspiration and motivation.
It’s about discussing the excellent and praiseworthy parts of life.
It’s about complimenting the lovely things about them.
It’s about encouraging them, because they are breathing.

Encouragement is a game-changer. It is something I am so passionate about, because I believe encouragement has so much potential, so much power.

Join the Sharing Can Be Fun movement today!

Jessica Weaves

Jessica Wilson started weaving in 2014 with a cardboard loom and a pile of yarn. What began as a creative outlet has now become both a passion and a business.

Rediscovering an ancient art for the modern home.

Every fringe and loop she makes tells a story, creating a connection through thousands of years of craft and creativity. Her weavings are a reflection of this rich history, which she hopes, will happily find a place in your home.

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QUESTION & ANSWER WITH JESSICA

Why are you passionate about weaving?
I’ve always really loved history and even have my degree in anthropology. One of the things I love about weaving is that it’s a craft that has existed for thousands of years, that really hasn’t changed that much during all that time. The basic over and under of the weft over the warp is the same, we just add our own personalities and style to it and maybe use different types of looms.

It’s sort of a strange beautiful connection with our ancestors.

When were you introduced to weaving?
My very first attempt at weaving was an art project in a middle school art class. We used cardboard looms and I remember thinking, even then, how much I loved weaving. I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time so while I enjoyed that project I didn’t think it was something I would ever get to do again. I always found myself drawn though to woven goods as I got older. Then a few years ago, I started seeing woven wall hangings by Maryanne Moodie popping up on Pinterest. As soon as I saw them something clicked in my mind and I realized weaving was actually something I could do again. I stubbornly put off learning how to weave for a while because I was afraid I wouldn’t be very good at it. I didn’t like starting projects I might not be good at right away (which is kind of a silly way to live). Thanks to weaving, I’ve gotten over a lot of that fear and I am so much more willing to just try something and then discipline myself to keep trying and learn over time. Weaving has been a really wonderful way for me to express myself and find a creativity in myself that I didn’t know I had.

What inspired you to open shop?
I opened my shop the way I think a lot of creatives do; I realized I was making a ton of woven wall hangings and I needed more room on my walls!

How do you generate new ideas?
One of my biggest inspirations is nature, specifically sunsets and nature photography. I save a lot of photos that inspire me in a collection on Instagram and a board on Pinterest. I regularly go back and look at both of them for inspiration. By doing that I’ve realized which colors I’m drawn to and what kind of shapes I’m inspired by. I also keep a sketchbook with me all the time. I don’t always follow my sketches exactly but it helps me to have my ideas in one place so I can use that as a springboard once I start creating a piece. And that way I don’t forget the idea I had while walking around Target or waiting to get my oil changed.

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Sometimes I can tell an idea is worth pushing through even if I get stuck on it. I’ve been really inspired by weavers like Sarah Neubert and Ellen Bruxvoort who talk about “showing up at the loom.” They’ve inspired me to just keep showing up, keep creating, and keep weaving even if I’m not in love with it anymore. After pushing through that process I usually love the wall hanging all over again or at least feel grateful and pleased that it is completed.

I’ve never regretted showing up
and disciplining myself to finish a piece.

There have been a few times where I can just tell that I’m done with an idea and it’s time is up. I’ve only cut a few weavings off my loom, but I think each one was a good choice. Sometimes an idea is just not worth pursuing and it’s better to start fresh. Other times if you sit with it for a while, you can start to feel new inspiration and drive. I think you really just have to feel it out and see what works best in each situation.

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What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I had to completely restart a piece once because I was struggling so much with creating a circle. I had planned on the weaving being large (at least 2 feet wide) but I was having so much trouble – even after taking out large sections of yarn and reweaving them – that I decided to take everything off that loom and start over on a much smaller scale. It was humbling, but I think a good reminder of how important it is to develop your skills, learn, and know your craft. My smaller attempt turned out really well. It ended up being one of my favorite woven walling hangings that I’ve made so far.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying business moment so far was probably my very first piece that I sold. It was a commission from an Instagram follower of an earlier space inspired weaving that I made for my sister for Christmas. I felt so excited to know that my work was striking a chord with people and was something they would love to have in their homes. That’s my hope for all my woven wall hangings. I want them to be something that people feel good about having in their home and something that adds beauty to where they live.

What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?
One thing that really helps me is learning to rest. I take breaks from social media and try to practice self-care. I’m learning to listen to my body and rest when I need to. I work full time plus I have my weaving and everything that goes with that, like my shop and social media on the side. It gets to be a lot! I remember one blogger’s post that really resonated with me. She was talking about learning to rest and deciding that if she was tired, rather than making herself more tired by pushing herself to complete a task, she took a nap. What a crazy revelation, just take a break, take a nap, get some rest and then try again.

Taking social media breaks is probably the single biggest thing I’ve done that helps me. I find that it alleviates a lot of the self imposed pressure of always wanting to seem like you’re creating and coming up with new and amazing ideas. It also helps me to not compare myself to others online or get into a super competitive mindset. As a creative you want to constantly be creating and showing those creations because that’s part of having an online presence and finding customers. It’s also really exhausting.

I believe in the value of community and community over competition.

There’s enough out there for everyone; we don’t need to knock each other down in order to succeed. It’s lonely enough as a creative and small business owner without pushing away the other people who “get it.”

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
I haven’t thought five or ten years ahead yet, but I do know that this year I want to start challenging myself with my weaving style and see where it takes me. I have some really interesting ideas running around my head (and my sketchbook) that I can’t wait to get out of my head and into the real world.


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Connect with Jessica:
instagram.com/jessica_weaves

Shop her work:
etsy.com/shop/jessicaweaves

See her inspiration:
pinterest.com/jessicaweaves

Desert Sage

IMG_0983Meet Ginny Melby, the owner and artist behind Desert Sage. Desert Sage is a watercolor and calligraphy company that makes elegant, one-of-a-kind pieces for every occasion. Whether you’re in need of envelope addressing, place cards, or handwritten notes, Desert Sage can create it for you. They even offer stunning geodes with individual words written on them, to inspire you or encourage a friend. What started as a way for Ginny to bring color and life out of her darkest days, has turned into a flourishing brand that aims to transform others’ lives through beauty and joy.

Read on as Ginny shares some of her business insights and inspiration.

Q: Why you do what you do?
A:
If God can use my artwork to encourage just one person’s heart, than it has served its purpose. I want to be a good steward of the gifts and passions God has given me. To me, Desert Sage means beauty out of brokenness. A desert sage flower grows in the harshest, driest conditions. Somehow this beautiful purple flower sprouts up from the dry, cracked desert ground. Similarly, the joy and beauty of my artwork surprised me by springing up during the most desolate time of my life, when my father passed away and I started writing and painting as a way to calm my soul. My vision for this business is to plant little seeds of hope and joy in other people’s deserts making their dream art pieces a reality and bringing beauty into their lives and homes.

IMG_0992Q: What’s the biggest mistake you made your first year of business?
A:
I compared my work to others’ constantly. I think this flowed from a feeling that I had no idea what I was doing, an insecurity in my own artwork and a harmless desire for inspiration. But the best advice I ever received was, “Unfollow me and all your favorite artists.” As humans, we tend to compare our creations to the creations of others. It’s good to be inspired by someone else’s work, but don’t fall into the trap of studying it, thus stifling your own creativity and never truly finding your own voice in art. That feels like robbing the world of some unique beauty that can only be found in you.

Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A:
Every time a customer tells me how much my artwork has encouraged them or how much peace/joy/hope it brings them to see my piece in their home everyday. That’s why I do what I do! Also, the moment I finally finish an elaborate piece is SO satisfying. They take so much of my time and concentration, it’s very exciting to see the finished product.

Q: What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?
A:
I get out into nature! Walking and admiring creation is one of the most refreshing things for me. It always seems to give me perspective again, that the success of all my tasks really isn’t on my shoulders…I just get the privilege of playing a part in it all. That frees me to do my best (and have fun!) and leave the rest up to God.

“We may know what we want, but God knows what we need.”

Q: What business owner or entrepreneur do you admire most? Who is your role model?
A:
I really admire Ruth Simons of Gracelaced artwork. Apart from her talent as an artist, I love how real she is about life. She doesn’t sugarcoat things or put on a false front for social media. You can tell she doesn’t spend hours trying to formulate a trendy post or make her life seem perfect. She often posts about the hard, sanctifying parts of life, motherhood, marriage…She’s approachable and relatable, and I admire that.

Connect with Ginny and keep up-to-date with her latest creations here or visit her website: desertsagescripts.com

Blog photos by Mary Irene, Taylor Graham, and Graham Johnson.

Breaking My Stride

I lived and moved with the world for a long time. For far too long, my feet fit in the shoes society handed to me, my stride agreeing with the rhythm culture had constructed. I might of told you Jesus was there too and, looking back, I know He was. I’d let you know I never let Him past the walls I built around me, though. I kept like that for years.

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Eighteen years, actually. But, at year eighteen, something changed. The world didn’t fill me like I’d always expected it to. I cried out for something more. I yearned for something different. To love boldly but to be loved even bolder, to find something that mattered more than this life. Little did I know that I was crying out to God. Little did I know that the walls I put up never kept Him out. I cried out to God and I found myself already in His arms. It was a game changer to find Him. At the time I had been making college plans for the year to come. I had a full ride and guaranteed job placement post-graduation, everything I could ask for. But the moment I found myself in the arms of God, I changed route immediately. I became a missionary.

Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I hopped on a plane to Amsterdam where I learned about who the Lord is. I learned of unconditional love and abounding grace. I came alive in a way I didn’t know I could. This love story was transformative. Knowing Jesus was metamorphic. I found myself immersed in a joy I couldn’t help but share. My heart learned of a love it couldn’t contain. I wanted more and more people to know about this Jesus I’d met. I needed to tell the world. I spent three months in Amsterdam before I hopped on another plane to Southeast Asia. There, I spent another three months working with local ministries in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. I shared the Christmas story in a closed country on Christmas day. I saw people who refused the idea of any God be healed of lifelong pains and change their minds. I met trafficked women and together, we redefined their definition of love. Jesus moved like a wildfire throughout Asia in a million different ways. It was unlike anything else I’ve experienced.

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After my time in Asia came to a close, I returned to America, but found that God didn’t want me to stay put for long. In only a month I will be returning to Amsterdam as a full time missionary. By doing so, I hope to aid people from around the world in going through the same transformation I did. My main focus will be staffing an Arts + Missions Training School. Through this, my heart is to see young artists collide with the love of God in order to make Him known. The weekdays will be spent arranging lectures for students where they’ll learn about the world of missions and arts place in it. Together, we will minister to Amsterdam’s homeless, tourists, those in the Red Light District, and more. From there, I will lead a three month cross-cultural outreach to somewhere in the nations. There we will put into practice all the students learned by partnering with local ministries and introducing people who never knew Him before to God. Aside from that, I will be serving a local missions base and the people living there or coming through.

I’m giddy over it all; however, there’s a few steps to take before booking a one way to Amsterdam. The biggest thing being that the Dutch government requires a minimum of a $1500 monthly income BEFORE I’m able to arrive in their country. As a missionary, paychecks don’t exist; so, I’m looking for a team of people willing to join me financially, prayerfully, and relationally. Before anything else, I’m searching for the church to back me up.

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More and more I’m realizing that we see God move in miraculous ways when the church rallies together for His glory. I want people who believe in that to embark on this journey with me. If that’s you, if you are willing and feel called to join my team as a one time giver or a monthly donor, I would be thrilled. I so look forward to welcoming you in and bringing you along. I never could have expected this calling placed on my life, and for that, I know it’s only by the grace of God that it comes to fruition.

A year ago God was a stranger. Today He’s a friend I can’t wait for the world to meet. I want to introduce everybody I see to Him. My stride matched with the world’s for far too long. I believe mine has changed so others can as well.

To donate, click here: ashtonperle.com/donate.
To follow her journey, click here: instagram.com/ashtonmsperle.