Almost two years ago I participated in a powerful course called Whyography® offered by My Founder Story. The course is designed for women business owners to clarify their WHY in an effort to develop their purpose-driven brand story and confidently share it with the world, providing a foundation for entrepreneurial success. Here’s my story, the Grace Gear story…
“I felt like you never loved me,” I confessed to my mother. My chest was tight, and I fought back tears and nearly choked on the words as they came out. I was in my early 50s at the time, but in that moment the wounds of my childhood were real and raw. I’d been raised in a family that never expressed love. There were many times I felt lost, alone and unworthy of love. As I talked with my mom that day—adult to adult—and bared my soul, I hoped for a miracle. I didn’t get one. “You were always so obnoxious and overbearing,” my mother said. “No one wants to be around that.”
After hearing those painful words, I began to search for answers. I discovered Brené Brown’s work and spent time learning about shame and vulnerability. I reflected on the path my life had taken and focused on the good that had come from my upbringing. I had developed a deep and loving bond with my childhood best friend—a horse named Julimar. That led me to the Western horse community as an adult, and I even started barrel racing at age 40. I also found what I needed at the local church growing up, which I often attended on my own. I went on to pursue a life of service as an adult—in my career as a civil servant, a hospital executive, and through mission work in Guatemala where my husband and I sponsor several children.
It also influenced my entrepreneurial journey. After beating cancer, grieving the loss of a close friend and the tragic deaths of two colleagues, along with Dr. Corey Martin, I co-founded the Bounce Back Project, an organization dedicated to making communities healthier and happier using resilience tools. We hosted several successful group excursions through the organization, which inspired us to launch a second venture together, Bounce Travels.
I wanted to do more. Specifically, I wanted to inspire others to get to know God the way I did. My faith in God gave me the strength to persevere. I thought about how my Bible and the hope I’d found within it had been with me through the years. I enjoyed designing jewelry as a hobby and envisioned using my creative skills to embellish Bibles. I wanted to create statement pieces so beautiful their owners would display them prominently on their coffee tables, where they would spark conversations about faith.
As I shared my vision with others, my friends in the horse community were especially receptive. So, I began creating Bibles embellished with embossed leather, cowhide and conchos. In 2017, I launched Grace Gear, a company offering extraordinary tools of faith, primarily for those who live and love a Western lifestyle. In addition to custom Bibles, I create leather Bible covers, journals and a few other leather products. I also offer devotionals, promise books, bookmarks and a variety of market products online and at select Western events and venues.
Through Grace Gear, I am achieving my heart’s desire and personal mission to share the unconditional love I found through my relationship with God. My Bible creations are starting conversations just as I hoped.
I am also using my business to give back. At Grace Gear, I donate a portion of my sales to support families in Guatemala,
Through my faith and a lot of self-reflection, I came to realize that purpose is often just on the other side of pain. After years of emotional agony, I was finally able to forgive my mother because I know in my heart that she did the best she could.