I've talked a lot about my shop, Brighter Day, here and there... but not specifically about where we see it going in the future.
Last May when I made my first wristlet purse and reopened my Etsy shop (which had formerly been a jewelry shop), I never imagined how it would change our lives over this past year. Business picked up much quicker than I expected, and the demand has only grown. By late summer and fall, I found myself sewing for hours nearly every day. I had just learned to sew a bag and put in a zipper, so I learned a lot through trial and error, developing new designs and techniques as I went.
Since then, the shop has stayed just as busy. It hasn't been uncommon for me to sew 50 to 100 bags in a month. And I'll be honest... there are days that I'd rather not open my craft room door, turn the iron on, or cut one more piece of fabric. :) It's a full-time job, on top of an already full-time school and clinical schedule.
But to say we are thankful is an understatement. God has blessed us tremendously - much more than we ever imagined - through this business. To be able to create things that people love is an honor, and the fact that we are able to donate to an awesome cause is so motivating. Financially, it has helped put me through school with as little debt as possible. I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me last year that we'd be paying school bills by sewing purses!
Currently, we are giving 10% of all sales to International Justice Mission, a cause we really, really believe in. But ultimately, our vision is even bigger. Our vision is to not just send money, but to go.
Shawn and I have always had a heart for international missions, and we know that that's where God has called us in some capacity in the future. Our vision is to partner with an organization - possibly IJM, we're not sure - that frees women from sexual slavery/human trafficking, which is an all too common reality in many countries. Once these women are freed, they have to make a living somehow to survive. They need a skill. And that's where we come in. We would be able to offer them a skill... to teach them to sew, and hire them to work for Brighter Day for a fair wage, and we would sell the bags here in the U.S. in a similar way that we are selling them now. Currently, custom bridesmaids' orders makes up 95% of my business, so we would stick with this market.
I know there are similar business models, with women from other countries sewing or making jewelry and selling their products in the U.S. I think the one main difference here is that these bags are already selling and appeal to American brides and bridesmaids. Hear me out... I say this with all respect... but many of the products I see look very indigenous to that country (i.e. fabrics are very African or Latin American looking with their bright colors and patterns, etc.). While this may appeal to buy one or two purses for a good cause, it may not appeal to American brides. But if we kept the style being something that is already selling like crazy, I think it could go really far.
It's a big step to put this dream on paper - where thousands of you will read it - but we're dreaming big because we serve an even bigger God. We are filled with passion and fervor when we talk about this plan, and we feel it's a God-sized idea that He has given us and only He can fulfill. He is in the business of rescuing and redeeming, and what a privilege it would be to be a small part of that work! We feel He has already been preparing us for this in unique ways... Shawn with his business knowledge, creativity, and passion for God's Word and discipleship; me with my love for all things handmade and my passion for women's health (where I picture practicing nursing).
There are many steps to go. We've already created an LLC and we have a couple people who are helping us part-time in sewing bags (and Shawn recently learned to sew!). But past that, we are praying for the right people to intersect our path, to breathe life and pour expertise into this vision to make it a reality. We would so appreciate your prayers in the process!