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

Meet Our Interns

From writing blog posts, to creating newsletters, to designing marketing graphics, and staying up-to-date on our social media platforms, our interns have been working very hard, all summer long, to provide the A|S community with new, helpful, and original content. We’re honored to work alongside these talented individuals as we feature makers, build community with our followers, and continue to strengthen artists in their pursuit of their passions and Christ.

We hope this post will help you get to know these humble women a little better, and maybe it could even spark some new friendships! Either way, we want to honor them and thank them, with this post, for volunteering their time to helping others and benefiting the Kingdom.


Mikaela Hershock – Graphic Design

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What are three interesting facts about you?
I was born with three kidneys. I know all the lyrics to Lose Yourself by Eminem. I love sour cream on french toast.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
Mother Teresa is a huge inspiration of mine because of her vulnerability and rawness through times in her life when she did not always feel the Lord’s presence. I recently read Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light which is a collection of some of the letters that she wrote to spiritual advisors in her life. While they were not originally intended for the public, it was remarkable to realize that a woman who did so much in the line of God’s work still struggled with self-doubt and depression.

What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
My favorite verse is Matthew 6:34 which says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” This verse has helped me through some very hard times in my life. Times when I feel hopeless and like there is no way I can accomplish all that I wish to or that my life will get any better. This reminds me to take things on step at a time and that God ultimately has a plan for everything.


Sarahgrace Sharp – Graphic Design

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Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Over this year I have found myself going back and listening to Rend Collective’s album Good News. The album is packed with uplifting music that brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. The lyrics are beautiful reminders of God’s love for us that we can so easily forget. I have clung to the lyrics during times of joy as well as times of sorrow, either way I love the album and it has become one of my favorites to jam loudly to.

What’s your favorite show or movie on Netflix and why?
Friends! For sure!! The first time I started watching Friends, I watched the first episode and just wasn’t feeling it…I then picked it up again a few months later and could not stop watching until I finished it. Whether I was intently watching episode after episode or playing it in the background as I was getting ready for the day, I loved following the storyline, the humor and watching each character develop over all 236 episodes (and yes, I watched every single one over the span of about 3-4 months).

What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?

“And Jesus replied, ‘You do not understand what I am doing now
but someday you will.'” – John 13:7

This verse has kind of been a life verse for me over the past several years, ever since I stumbled upon it. I have gone through several phases during my life when I cannot make sense of where the Lord is leading me and not understanding His will for certain things that have come my way. This verse has encouraged me so much to trust and have faith in Jesus and His big picture during those unsettling times.


Darby Trask – Social Media

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What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
My ideal way to spend a weekend would be lazy and happy. Lately, my husband and I have loved dates that start at a coffee shop and end up curled on the house with a pint of ice cream and a movie. I think my ideal weekend would look a lot like that. Community, coffee, movies, ice cream… and cat cuddles. Oh, and napping.What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
I teach yoga and it has had a huge impact on my life. Breath control or breath regulation (known in yoga as pranayama) has also had a huge impact on my life. There are so many types of pranayama, and I would 100% recommend to do some research on them! Learning the techniques can help with anything from anxiety to digestion. I’ve seen the benefits and they have personally changed my life!

How do you like to spend your free time?
Ah, the elusive concept of free time. I’m kidding (mostly). I prioritize self-care and taking time to propel yourself to healthy habits. That being said, I love having free time and I think it is SO important! Some of my favorite things to do are practicing meditation and yoga, reading biographies (and other things), curating and creating playlists, spending time in intentional community (I love having people over for dinner at my house!), spending time with my husband (we are about to celebrate our first anniversary), and cuddling with my cats. And I will always spend an afternoon on a Pinterest project of any kind!


Olivia McCash – Public Relations

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What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Live abroad! I can’t recommend anything more highly. I’ve had the opportunity to live in so many places long and short term, and those seasons have always been such powerful and transformative chapters in my story. Living abroad has always stretched me and broadened my view of God and His children. And I love that you end up with families all over the world.

What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
Oh man, the ideal weekend would start with a big quality breakfast and lots of coffee. There would be some adventures: maybe a camping expedition or a hike or just exploring a new place. Definitely some donuts and wildflowers thrown into the mix. And time spent working on different projects, testing new recipes, reading, and spending time with my people…and spontaneous dance parties & movies. I think a mix of adventure & rest is the ultimate combination.

What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
I just got into this concept called “hygge.” It’s basically a word that describes the Danish way of living. It focuses on cultivating feelings of safety & belonging, rich community, atmosphere, and presence (amongst many other things) in a really intentional way. I’m trying to be more mindful about how I incorporate that into my life, and it’s been so fun. Highly recommend reading about it!


Maali Padro – Public Relations

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What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Everyone should at least do once in their life the one thing they are afraid of doing and give their dreams a chance regardless of how big or small they may be. At least once in your life, live your life to the fullest. Give your life the opportunity to be the best life possible. Give yourself the opportunity to live the best life possible.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
I love scrolling through Instagram and reading and seeing about the small accomplishments that everyone has had. Whether finally starting to workout, or putting their artwork on display, or finally cleaning their room. I’m impressed by every single person who wakes up, shows up in their lives, and works towards something bigger than all of us. I’m a amazed by how connected the lives of those around us are connected to ours. One encouraging post on Instagram can uplift a person for a life time.

What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
This is a hard one. There are so many verses that have played a significant part in my life. If I had to choose one well two, it would be 1 Peter 2:9, “
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”, because it is a constant reminder of who I am, whose I am, why I am here on this earth. It gives me purpose and brings me back to my roots whenever I start to get lost.


Mariko Sandico – Public Relations

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What kind of art do you enjoy the most?

I love art in the form of photography or writing. It’s amazing to me how beautifully photographers can capture real-life people, places, or things through their shooting and/or editing style. Similarly, writing can communicate powerful messages through a gentle medium.

Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Beyonce, always.

What would be your ideal way to spend your weekend?
Sleeping in, eating LOTS of brunchy foods and drinking moderate amounts of coffee. Ideally, doing this in a new city or unfamiliar place so David (my husband) and I can explore throughout the afternoons and evenings.


Casey Cappa – Public Relations

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Which podcast(s) can you not get enough of?
I’ve been LOVING both Personality Hacker and Typology for a long time, now. If you are interested in understanding yourself and others, growing your self-awareness, more clearly seeing your blind spots, and loving others where they are at, these are gems.

What kind of art do you enjoy most?
Poetry is my absolute favorite medium of art. I love how the human experience can be told so profoundly in a few lines. Poetry requires honesty, creativity, analogy – but mostly, the courage to tell your story. (My personal favorites are Morgan Harper Nichols, Cleo Wade, Rupi Kaur, and Nick Miller, just to name a few!)

What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
I love slow mornings with lots of coffee, journaling and praise music, afternoons of quality time with friends, family, and all the animals, and evenings filled with food, music, laughter, art, exploring and making memories in the everyday.

 

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

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.

IMG_1726PC: Amber Rulmer

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

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.