1. Tell us a little bit about you.
Well I was born and raised in the country in Northern Virginia. Always had a passion for creativity and art of any kind. Drawing, music, dance, crafts… I’ve been a Christ follower for as long as I can remember, though there’s been many a hill and valley on that walk since then. I started a mission focused jewelry company called The Artful Sojourn in the Spring of 2012 and that’s been a huge part of my life ever since. I decided to study business and graduated from Liberty University in 2015 (hallelujah!) I’m now living in Lynchburg, VA loving life, making jewelry, and striving to keep walking with my Lord.
2. What inspired you to start The Artful Sojourn?
In a nut shell, it was my love for creating and the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. It was something God was teaching me at the time, how He has given us talents and passions but we have the opportunity to invest those and put them to work for something good! At that time, in 2012 I felt called to go on a mission trip to Germany. I needed to raise money to go so I decided to make and sell jewelry to raise the funds. God used that to help me realize how great a passion I have to design and create something unique and beautiful to share with the world. I thought it was so incredible that I was able to use that passion and talent that God had given me for a greater purpose than just my own benefit by funding the mission trip. I knew I wanted to continue doing that in some capacity. So I started The Artful Sojourn.
3. Can you tell us more about your mission?
Sojourn means “to stay for a time in a place; live temporarily”. At the time, I was really struck by how short are our lives on this earth. As a believer in Christ, life here is just a sojourn, a brief adventure, before we reach our true home in Heaven. With that in mind, I really wanted to make the most of every moment I was given and to live my sojourn for more than just myself and to use my talents and passions to help those in need. Because of that, I started donating 20% of all profits to mission focused charity organizations that are making tremendous impacts in the lives of others.
After my mission trip, I needed to find another good purpose that I could invest my new company's profits into. When I moved to Lynchburg, VA, I was introduced to Big World Project, a local organization that rescues impoverished children from off the streets of India. Big World Project builds orphanages and safe houses to care for the kids, sharing the love of Jesus with them and providing them with all they need, like food, water, an education and medical care. The founder shared the verse James 1:27 with the crowd he was speaking to.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I was so convicted that this was something God has called His children to do, and I knew this was the mission that I wanted my company to support. We now donate 20% of every purchase to Big World Project to help care for orphans and to continue to rescue more kids from living destitute on the streets of India. The beautiful thing about this, is that it takes a team to make a difference. The Artful Sojourn gives the opportunity to every man and woman to also make a difference in the lives of these children through something as simple as purchasing a piece of jewelry and carrying on the message to others.
4. How has your mission changed since you started?
Hm that’s an interesting question! I’d say the focus of my mission has become less about how I personally can use the passions and talents God’s given me to make a difference, and more about how we can partner together to make an even larger impact. It’s more about giving you the opportunity to make a positive difference simply by choosing where you will buy that needed birthday present. You can buy at a large department store or you can buy a unique, handmade gift that will keep on giving to those who are truly in need.
5. What lessons have you learned as a young entrepreneur?
Well I’ve certainly learned that it takes a boat load of hard work and self-motivation! Haha, but also that it’s so worth it. I would so much rather spend my life doing something that I love and knowing that those efforts are not in vain. Together, we’re helping to bring hope and the Light of Christ to the poor and the helpless! And that’s worth everything.
6. Do you have any plans for the future of Artful Sojourn?
People ask me often if I’ll ever open up a brick and mortar shop for The Artful Sojourn! Maybe one day. I love the real life interaction with people and getting to meet them and get to know them. That’s just a lot harder when you’re primarily an online shop. Until then, I’ll get that opportunity by setting up booths at different events and I always enjoy that.
Something else is I’d like is to continue to provide jobs for people in third world countries. We’ve already started this by going to India and teaching women there how to make bow ties, which we now pay them for and sell here in the Untied States! I’d love to see that to grow and expand to help more people.
7. What are three things you can't live without?
Coffee, the season of Fall, and my family (my parents & my brother & sister whom I love dearly)
8. Last question! What is the highlight of your day and why?
My days are never consistent, but any day when I get to spend quality time with a friend or family member or a precious soul I may have just met – those are the moments that I always cherish. I absolutely love sitting down with a person, steaming cup of coffee in hand, and talking through life. I so often come away so encouraged and often feeling that I encountered God through those conversations.