I was sitting there, leg bouncing and stomach knotting, waiting for my turn to go into the room to pitch to five judges for a business contest I had been preparing for a long time when a guy sitting beside me turned and said, "I am getting close to graduating and like to talk to entrepreneurs about how they got to where they are and what advice they have for me. So tell me, how did you come up with your business?"
"It is most definitely a God-thing."
A little over three years ago I graduated from college. I was so excited to be done and to have the big accomplishment under my belt, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. After looking at job listings for weeks, I had a sit down heart to heart with myself.
What was it that I really wanted to do? There wasn't a specific job title popping out to me, but what did was that
I wanted to bring love to people.
I wanted to spread love around in whatever ways I could. Then, God put an idea on my heart. For those of you that have been around since the beginning, you know that my business was originally artwork. I created these beautiful wings out of plaster with meaningful words and listed them on etsy.com. Creating them was so therapeutic for me and surprisingly, people BOUGHT them. Like, spent their hard earned cash on something I made! What?! I was SO excited when it happened, dancing around my kitchen squealing like a little girl. So I did a few crafts shows and began to realize...
Maybe this could really be something.
Dear Heart Designs evolved into hand stamped jewelry in March of 2013. I was still working full time in property management, but I spent late hours at night with coffee, dance parties, and my hammer and metal. I was bringing in a small amount of income that allowed my husband and I to go on an extra date here and there, but nothing that was even close to allowing me to be able to tell my boss "see ya!" and become my own.
I began receiving messages from different people, wanting me to put words on their jewelry that made my stomach drop a little. Things to do with different Gods or words that I'd be embarrassed to stamp into metal. I was conflicted.
What if this is how you grow? We could really use the money they are paying. It's just a word, Nichole. Is it really that harmful?
I finally decided to say no, and in that moment I decided that my entire brand was going to be faith based. That I wasn't going to let the world tell me what to design or influence me into something I wasn't comfortable with. No, I was going to create something that was a beacon of light in this world of dark. I was going to spread love and change lives. I was determined to.
Now, here is where things get pretty magical. Shortly after deciding this, I had a friend that needed help funding her mission trip. Something inside me told me to do a fundraiser for her, with 100% of the proceeds to go to her trip. I had money to pay my bills from my full time job, and I had time to do this for her, so why not? I don't think you're ready for the next line, because I still get goose bumps from it.
We raised $1000 in 48 HOURS! I was excited if I sold $20 in a 24 hours at that time. It was truly unbelievable. But wait, there is more. After making the bracelets and collecting the funds, I gave her the check that funded her mission trip with pure joy. I couldn't believe what we had accomplished and I was on cloud nine. That night, as I was preparing dinner, my phone went off with a sale notification. YAY!, I thought. Those were always so exciting. And then I saw it.
A sale for $1500, from one random person in Florida.
What? Did they buy out my entire store? Well yes, basically. Then I realized what was really happening. God was rewarding me. He was rewarding me with what I had given away, plus more. This is the moment when I knew that I was onto something. That my dream of bringing love to people and creating from my soul would come true one day, as long as I followed and obeyed Him. That dream finally came true August of 2014 when I was able to dive into Dear Heart Designs full time shortly after have my little girl, Ellie.
Our days typically consist of breakfast and cartoons. Chasing each other through the house. Dance party breaks. Playing in the dirt outside. Giggling together. Nap time (where I hustle for two hours in my office) Park visits. Swing sets. And just making amazing memories together. She lights up my world and is why I do what I do.
That sounds like an amazing day, huh? I don't want to fool you. When I put her down at 8:00, I work until 2:00AM. And we repeat at 8:00AM the next day. Being an entrepreneur is hard. It's a ton of work, a lot of coffee, and little sleep. But I truly wouldn't trade it for the world. It is so fulfilling and sometimes I cannot believe that my dream came true. So if you're thinking about starting your own business but don't know where to start, I have some advice.
Pray and give it all to God. Because He has amazing plans for you and as long as you let Him guide you, you will be amazed the things that He will do with your life.
"If you would have told me that I would be a jewelry designer while I was in college, I would have laughed at you." I said to him with a smile. "Every bit of this business is God's work, He is just using my hands. He has a plan for each of us, if we will just listen to Him."
"So, you think that it is all written?" he asked.
"Yes, yes I do." I replied as I got up, gathering my things.
"My grandmother used to say that, that it was all written. Maybe it is time that I start finding that faith too." He said.
I nodded at him with a smile and waved goodbye, walking into a room that I had been SO nervous about all morning with a peace and calmness surrounding me that could have only been God's doing.
P.S.... I won! I cannot wait to see where God leads us this year. I have a feeling it's going to be my greatest adventure yet!
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