Monday, October 3, 2011

Ladles and Expectations


The summer after I graduated college and right before Robert and I were married, I had a job waiting tables at a gourmet restaurant in downtown Holland, Michigan where we used to live.  It was a place that I couldn't afford to dine at very often as a student, but a few times I would go there late with friends and get water and one of their amazing gourmet salads or flourless chocolate torte.  Sometimes we would catch glimpses of the owner and speculate with hushed voices what it must be like to own that restaurant.  In my naivete, I always imaged that the owner was quite wealthy and had a glamorous lifestyle.

Flash forward to post-graduation when I was working there, and one night I was rolling silverware by the bar.  While the owner closed out the register, I asked her what it was like--to start and own a restaurant.  Her answer took me by surprise.  She talked about how her parents discouraged her from opening her own place--not because they didn't have faith in her but because the lifestyle of a restaurant owner is so hard.  She also told me about how right before they opened, she took every spatula, ladle, and other utensil she had from her own house because she ran out of money putting every dime she had into just getting the doors open.  Then she spoke of some of the legal and financial challenges and moments where she wasn't sure they would make it....  quite far off from my fanciful notions of a lifestyle of wealth and grandeur.


The truth is that owning Joyfolie is not much different.  There are struggles, hardships... issues to overcome.   There are wonderful, exciting moments--for certain.  But there are many, many times where I questioned whether moving the business forward was the right thing, whether it was worth it, and whether it would be successful.  In fact, at one point last year I decided it was not the time to build a business.  My children are so little, and everyone says how that time goes by so quickly.  I didn't want to work so hard growing Joyfolie that I miss it or look back with regret.  There was one point last year where I was at a very pivotal point in moving Joyfolie into manufactured shoes.  I remember staying up one night, mulling over this big step forward, and speculating, "Why now?"  The children were young {2 and 5 at the time}, and I figured I had the rest of my life to go to the next level producing the shoes.  Maybe, I rationalized, I don't even need to have employees anymore.  Maybe I just handmake shoes myself for extra money here and there.  When the kids are in school, then I will grow the business and produce firm-soled shoes.  And I did what I do at all critical junctures in my life: I prayed.  I prayed that God would speak to me about His purpose in Joyfolie.  I laid forth my resolve to wait a few years to take the shoes into manufacturing, but added the caveat, "Lord, if this is not Your plan, if You don't want me to stop and You want me to move this business forward... let something amazing happen.  Let lightning strike.  Send something so irresistible, that I will know for certain I should move Joyfolie forward."  It's such a funny thing about prayer.  I often send them out like hot air balloons into an expanse of blue sky--not really expecting anything to come back.... by now I should know better.

The next day, I opened my email box and was pretty amazed at what I found: an email from one of the buyers of Anthropologie--issuing Joyfolie a sample call.  It took a year and a half to bring all the details together, but I am excited to announce that Joyfolie children's shoe will be available at Anthropologie this holiday!

Most significantly, though, this opportunity marks a pivotal moment in my life.  Not only was it one of many countless times over that I have felt God urging me to move the business forward, but it once again affirms that God hears and answer prayer.  Whatever your Monday brings you, I hope that brings you encouragement.

"Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly."
Psalm 5:3


Meredith Blunt said...

Congratulations Jessica. Your commitment to Joyfolie and to motherhood has been a wonderful thing for me to read about, partake in and watch unfold since the autumn of '08. You're a brave lady and I'm so happy for you!

priscilla said...

Isn't it funny how our perceptions can be so way off base with reality.

Congratulations for doing what you love, in spite of certain obstacles and on your new venture with Anthropologie.

Stay the course, follow your heart, take time out for your family and know that God will guide you...

Happy Monday!

The Alvords said...

I love this. Thank you for sharing. It's exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Oh, and congratulations! Anthropologie stole my heart years ago. You should be so proud.

Loni Mae said...

Congratulations! Now I can combine my love for Anthropologie and Joyfolie into one shopping spree! :) Although our business is not on the same scale, we have also questioned our it only to have God speak loudly that we are exactly where He wants us. Thank you for sharing your story!! :)

Christin Northrop said...

So beautifully written! My husband just started his own CPA practice so I can sort of relate about starting your own business. It's amazing how God works...just keep putting it in his hands. You truly have a gift and make the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. I will pray for your family and business. It's not isn't easy, but if your doing something you love surrounded by people you love...that's a good life!

Eliza Derozier said...

Thank you for this post. My family was recently at a crossroads and we chose the harder path. The path that eventually will lead to a better life but for now makes life very hard. I have been pushed from the role of sahm to having to look for a job and bring home the bulk of the income. I am scared. I haven't worked outside of my home since I was 19. I know He has a plan for me and it will work out in the end, but I cant seem to shake the fear. I pray and pray and pray. I'm still waiting for lighting to strike here. For now I guess I just keep praying.

Jenny said...

Congrats! Not only in Athropologie but in journey to get your here!

emily said...

So cool. Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to see your sweet shoes in Anthropologie!

virginia said...

An inspiring story and I'm so excited to see how He answered that prayer. Thank you for sharing!!!

Jenni said...

wow. congratulations on your success! it has been fun watching you grow!

Beca said...

How fun!! Anthropologie!?!!? So cool. Knowing God will provide and lead the way is so calming and keeps the anxiety away! Kudos for sharing and for initially turning toward Him when you needed to. We just did that about me being a SAHM. He gave us peace and my husband has had 2 pay raises since.

Erin said...

Amen sister! Beautiful post! And a huge congratulations on Anthropologie!! WOW! So fun!!

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She designs gowns and sells them
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

Proverb 31~ :)

Meredith said...

I knew you had a very special gift and that it will bless you and your family in time. You know how excited I am, I already told my husband I can't wait to go check out the display in Anthro when they hit the stores. Oh and what size are these soft sole Harlow's, you know I have a deep love for that shoe and this color combo is fabulous <3

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Your creativity is amazing! God does hear our prayers. Good luck with all you do!

Brianne-zam said...

i am so happy that it was God's will because now we are all the beneficiaries! i know that beyond building your shoe business, it is sharing of your testimony to thousands of people such as you wrote about today, that God answers prayers, that is what God had in mind for you!
i have so enjoyed learning from you.
i am THRILLED that they will be in Anthropologie!!! I had hoped that was the store you had been hinting at for so long:)
Congratulations Jessica!

Ella's Mom said...

Congratulations! That is such exciting news!

Debra Jane said...

Jess, I am a huge fan of your shoes but ALSO a huge fan of your words. You write with such humbleness and honesty. Most business owners would think it necessary to be wonderful story tellers and paint an extremely positive picture of all their successes. You do not do this, you are humbly yourself for all of us to enjoy. You speak of all aspects of your journey and take us along with you through your beautiful words. Thank you for this. And congratulations on being brave and ‘faith-full’ and taking those next steps. We, your customers, are the ones who ultimately benefit. Deb x

Lindsay RC Wilson said...

I knew it. Glad they were smart enough to get you, and glad it fit into the plan for your family. Good things do happen to good people. All the best.

michelle hoard said...

Wow! What a great God He is!! Congratulations...this really inspired me! thank you from one mom to the next.

Victoria Miller said...

Thank you SO much for this. I've been struggling with how I should move my life forward & I know, without a doubt, God led me to your site. This helped so much & has truly blessed me. Thank you :)

BlessedNgr8ful said...

This gave me goosebumps <3 Your photos are breath taking, your story motivating & your faith... refreshing. May the blessings continue to rain abundantly in your life. Thank you for sharing it so generously.


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