Alabaster Co.

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What is beautiful?

Alabaster Co. founders, Brian Chung & Bryan Chung seek to address this question through the creation and building of their LA-based company. Inspired by theologian James Choung’s Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out,  the co-founders came to learn that with each generation comes a culturally contextualized spiritual question. Choung explains that for millenials, the question was “What is good?” For the up-and-coming generation (generation Z), the question that many are asking when seeking out paradigms for life and faith, is “What is beautiful?”

With this in mind, the co-founders were compelled to start their company. “How do we show that the gospel is beautiful?” They sought to build a company around this question, looking to cultivate and engage in conversation around beauty, faith, art, and creativity. Out of this vision, came Alabaster Co.

The company’s name comes from Mark 14, when the woman with the alabaster jar breaks it to spread perfume on to Jesus’ feet. Those around her see this act as pointless and wasteful, while Jesus calls it “beautiful.” It’s one of the only times in the gospels that He uses such language. Similarly, in a world that deems creativity and the act of creating potentially meaningless, Alabaster Co. seeks to serve Jesus by artistically highlighting the intersection of beauty and faith.

Alabaster Co. launched its first kickstarter in October of 2016 – Alabaster: The Bible Beautiful. This first project consisted of a set of the New Testament gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in a familiar translation (NLT), but a totally new and creative format.

Brian & Bryan didn’t intend to start a “Bible brand” when they began their company. They began the creative process brainstorming a range of different ways to engage in the intersection of faith and beauty. They considered starting with magazine publishing or beginning an online journal amongst other options, but Brian eventually posed the thought “actually…we should start with the Bible.”

Given that the current generation is said to be one of the most dechurched and biblically disengaged of the era, The Bible Beautiful seeks to “present visual imagery, interweave it with the text, and see how people respond to it.” This set of quality-created, printed, and bound books creates a new opportunity for readers to explore the intersection between creativity, beauty, and faith; all the while engaging with the ministry and words of Jesus via scripture.

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“It started with the Bible, but the conversation continues as we engage with real people trying to do real creative work in the world,”  Bryan explained as we chatted about Alabaster Co. over the phone. After the success in publishing their first project, Bryan & Brian continued to seek out new ways to creatively invite people to explore the intersection of beauty and faith. Alabaster Co. has since released an online journal, spotify playlist, A Liturgy for Creatives e book, and a rendition of the Psalms.

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The company is currently working on a couple new projects. The Notebook just successfully completed its kickstarter campaign, and will be released at the end of this year in December – just in time for the holidays! The Notebook began out of a natural progression in the conversation regarding creativity and faith. Brian & Bryan noticed that “conversation doesn’t just happen in scripture, but in real life things. One of the biggest scriptural practices today is journaling, writing things down, and sketching.”

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The Notebook is a perfect companion to Alabaster Co’s other products, and an excellent addition to the spiritual and creative practices one might already have in place. It’s hardcover, with a gray-paper interior that doesn’t yellow over time the way white paper tends to. The gray-paper interior is inspired by artists and painters from the Renaissance era, who used grey canvases and backdrops for optimal color contrast and visualization.

Alongside the creation of The Notebook, Alabaster Co. is in the beginning stages of a kickstarter campaign to produce and print a rendition of Romans. Romans specifically addresses the topic of  “division” as Paul calls for unification of the previously divided Jew and Gentile believers in Rome. The co-founders thought this to be especially relevant, as there are many questions amongst the current generations regarding what it means to be “evangelical” in today’s particularly divisive religious and political climate.

Throughout the process of creating and building Alabaster Co, Brian & Bryan encountered the ups and downs that many of us who pursue creativity and/or entrepreneurship face. When asked what’s been the most challenging about running Alabaster Co, Bryan explains “Everyday is different. You’re always making decisions. Personally taking ownership of all these decisions can be challenging. You have to take responsibility for both good decisions, and poor decisions; [even] micro decisions [regarding] designs, partnerships, website content, etc.”

Yet amidst the challenges, the co-founders have also really seen God work in through the company. They’ve heard encouraging stories about those who have painfully left the church then begin to re-engage with Jesus through the medium of art and creativity that The Bible Beautiful presents. They’ve also witnessed the visual communication of their Bible collection speak to readers about God in a way that the words alone simply could not.

When asked what advice Bryan would give to other creatives, he responded, “ Don’t be afraid to put your work out there, even if you think it risks others naming it as ‘heretical’ or ‘different.’ I genuinely think there’s a real fear for Christian artists to really put their work out there, because there are invisible walls that are up (whether we’ve defined them or not) that define what can, or cannot be deemed as ‘Christian Art.” As mentioned before, there were (and still are) many risks that had to be taken in order to begin and build Alabaster Co. However in the midst of that, lives are being touched, and the Gospel is being shared in new and transformative ways. As the co-founders continue taking risks in starting new projects and creating new products with Alabaster Co., Jesus only increases and deepens their personal faith and discipleship as Christian creatives.  

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“Putting your personal work out there is a risk…art is your personal interpretation, and learning to be okay with that and live with the fact that this is the way you experience God is key. Trust that God sees it as GOOD, even if others may not understand it fully.”

From first-hand experience, the Alabaster Co. founders have exemplified just what it looks like to trust God in the creative process, and step out in faith by artistically sharing the beauty of the Gospel with others. It will be inspiring to see how Jesus continues to reach and transform those that engage with the company’s work in the seasons to come. If you’d like to learn more, or take part in the Alabaster Co. community, check out what they’re up to at their website: www.alabasterco.com. (For our A|S community, Alabaster Co. is graciously offering a 15% off discount code for use at checkout: ArtfullySeeking).


// Written 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

The Enoughs, The “If Onlys”, and The Middle

The word enough keeps ringing through my head like the word ex-girlfriend at a John Mayer concert. I don’t feel it. I don’t feel enough.

I worry I’m not enough for my siblings and parents. I worry I don’t measure up with the other two billion college graduates getting jobs and rings and children. I worry people will see me and imagine what I could have been or where I could have gone if only I’m afraid I’m not enough and I’m only an if only.

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Like Wednesdays or Jan from The Brady Bunch, I’m stuck in the middle. And it’s the middle section that’s hard to settle into, but I keep getting a whispered hint that the middle section is the one that I am called to.

DE Timepieces Final-8It is true that I often don’t feel like I’m enough. And that’s because I’m not. I haven’t arrived; I am no one’s savior. I’m climbing with Miley and wandering with Tolkien. If I were perfect (which also happens to be my definition for the word enough, ironically), I would already be there. I would already have washboard abs. I would already be a published author. I would already be married. But I’m not. I’m in the middle. I’m working towards something, each day trying to pull a Samwise and take one step further than the day before.

IT IS NOT A MEASUREMENT OR AN ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL; IT IS THE WILLINGNESS TO STEP, TO DANCE, TO TRUDGE THAT COUNTS.

DE Timepieces FinalAnd as a Christian, the word enough receives a more nuanced definition, I think. It goes through a transformation and is turned into a paradox of sorts. On the one hand, I am not enough. I sinned yesterday, I sinned today, and I will most likely sin tomorrow. Clearly, I have fallen off the boat and am wading with Rose trying to find a door to cling to. I am not enough.

But Jesus is enough. I am enough because of Jesus’ love for me. Where the equation once said, I≠ENOUGH, Jesus inserted Himself rather than me. Now it is JESUS=ENOUGH. When Jesus is in me and I am out of the picture, I suddenly am enough because of the magic of love.

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I will never be enough. But Jesus is. He is enough, and He relieves me of the pressure.

Written by: Drew Brown
Watches by: D E Timepieces

D E Timepieces is a watch company dedicated to redeeming the Time.

What do you make time for?

We have to ask that question. We live in a world with many distractions and constant messages about useless things. As we see the world changing daily we debate what is valuable to us. The more something is valuable, the more time is spent on it. If we spent the right amount of time on things that matter, think about the growth we will have in that area.

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As a Christian, I tend to focus on Jesus, family, ministry and providing. Jesus died for my sins (John 3:16) and in return, I devote my life to Him and the ministry He has for my family and I. Because I have many things to juggle, where my time is spent is important. If it’s not work, it’s time spent with my wife and 3 kids, worship ministry at my church, producing records in my studio, or running multiple businesses. Yeah… It’s a lot.

For my wife Katie, she’s raising 3 kids, home schools and runs day to day things for this company. Not to mention dealing with a baby and a new dog! She’s raising the next generation! It’s a lot of work.

With everthing we have going on, we need time with Jesus. He has blessed our family in ways we could have never imagined. So how do we give a God who has everything something of value? We believe it’s our Time. Whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not, I still ask the same question. What do you make time for? He created you in His own image. Don’t you think we should give something in return?

Make Time for Him. He made Time for you.

By David & Katie

Shop D E Timepieces here: http://www.detimepieces.com/products