Last week, I pressed "open store" on a new online shop adventure.
And it all started with an apron--Susanna Wesley's apron.
Instead of writing out a long backstory, here's a little Q&A to keep me on track ;)
Q: You already have an online shop, why would you start another one?
A: Late last summer, I knew I needed to make some decisions about the Nicole Joelle Print Shop. I was in a rut, and I was envious of other shops that seemed to be so successful. Even though I was spending a lot of time creating for it, my sales weren't reflective of that time. Not only that, but I wasn't excited or passionate about what I was doing. I felt like I was just doing it to keep doing it--not because it was life-giving or providing for our family. Many days, I felt discouraged by lack of "success" or frustrated when I saw other shops doing so well. Especially since I was pregnant with Sam, I knew something had to change. So, I began to pray. I prayed for wisdom and direction. I prayed for clarity.
A few days after I began praying about it, I reheard the story of Susanna Wesley and her prayer apron (the only other time I had heard it before was probably 10 years ago). And then later that week, I heard it again.
All of a sudden, sitting there on my bed praying/thinking, I had an "aha" moment about aprons.
Q: Um, what do you mean you had a moment about aprons?
A: Even though I had heard the story of her prayer apron years and years ago, it always stuck with me. Susanna Wesley had a lot of children, and she would cover her head with her apron to pray when she needed to stop and spend some time with Jesus. Her children knew that she was praying and not to bother her. The reason the story always resonated with me was because I thought it was a perfect example of seeking Jesus in the everyday and showing your kids that you were seeking and talking with Him. That's what I want in my life and want my children to see.
Then I had a thought:
What if I created aprons to be a visual reminder to moms and women that Jesus is with them in the everyday?
What other everyday products could I create that are visual reminders to seek Jesus?
Suddenly, my creativity was no longer dried up. Instead, everyday I felt like my ideas were multiplying. I felt renewed, excited, and passionate--it was a sweet gift from God after a season of discouragement.
Since September, I've kept a notebook filled with lots of ideas (some good, some not so much, and some way too-big-for-my britches right now).
Q: But there are no aprons in your shop. Why not?
A: First of all, my vision for the aprons is unique and I want to do it right. Since I don't sew more than a straight line, I'll need help (and money!) to launch the aprons. So, I began with what I knew: paper goods to be a starting point for the shop. My hope is to launch aprons this fall.
Q: Why did you name the shop Cultivate Co?
A: I spent weeks brainstorming for a name because I wanted it to represent the purpose of the shop: to remind you that God is with always present with you and working in you. When I looked into the word Cultivate--I loved that it meant to prepare, to grow, and to develop. Faith is not stagnant--it is growing and being cultivated. The motto for Cultivate Co is to plant encouragement in the everyday because I really do desire that each product encourages you in your faith.
Q: What is your favorite product in the shop?
A: Well, I really love them all--but my favorite are these scripture seeds (little verse cards to help you plant scripture in your heart and home). The Comfort + Care set all have verses that were so dear to me after Sam was born and I needed encouragement and nearness from God and His Word.
Q: What's happening with the Nicole Joelle Print Shop?
A: It's currently still open and stocked with just a few products. It's on auto-pilot right now, and I plan to officially close the doors at the end of summer. However, I am thinking about transitioning it a lightly-stocked Cultivate Co Etsy shop in addition to my official shop. We'll see :)
Q: What are most excited about with Cultivate Co?
A: Goodness. So much! I think it's so easy to fall into the trap that following Jesus means following the rules. I have often felt guilty about not having twenty minutes of daily quiet time or that I'm not doing enough (or that God can't work in me if I'm not crossing all my t's). You know what? That's a big lie. God is in me. He works in me. He is there when I need grace after being harsh with my toddler or disrespecting my husband. He gives me wisdom about how to teach my kids about Him. He is there to praise and thank as I do those thankless and praise-less household duties. He is there. This is the heartbeat of my little shop: to encourage others as they walk day in and day out with Jesus. It's about growing where you are planted--and trusting your Creator to work in you.
Q: What's your big vision for Cultivate Co?
A: Well, I certainly have ideas, but my biggest vision is to follow God's vision. I want to keep my hands open to His plans. I look forward to seeing what happens!
Q: Where can I find out more about the shop?
A: Over here on Instagram, here on Facebook, and here is the storefront.
Q: Are there any discounts available?
A: Well, you made it to the end of the story--grab 15% off with the code STORY15
Of course, there are a lot of tiny little details that are tucked away in my mind--but hopefully this gives you a little glimpse of the story behind Cultivate Co :)