Small Beginnings: Earth Clay

You all know I am a BIG fan of celebrating your stories in my studio. I love capturing the essence of your family, friends, & pets through little illustrations that seem to make everyone cry when they see them for the first time. However, something you might not know is my passion for helping you celebrate your story doesn't end with a paintbrush. I wanted to take a moment to talk about how I started Earth Clay, my adventure-jewelry brand, where I create miniature clay sculpture jewelry to help remind you of the places you've been & look forward to all of the places you'll go. I hope that my humble beginnings will encourage you that no matter where you are in your journey, whether that is becoming a mom for the first time, starting a business, applying for your first, second, third, or fourth job, wherever you are is worthy of celebration!

I've always been a fan of artwork that is not only beautiful, but useful. Since I was little, I'd try to find ways to make my creations serve a purpose. I wanted people to love my artwork, but I also wanted my creations to help them live a happier life. It's easy to see how my business, Grace Illustrates, fits perfectly into this goal, as it encourages you to celebrate your story... but I've never been able to only be an "illustrator" or a "painter" or a "sculptor."

In high school I sold clay magnets, but let's be real, I wasn't convinced that magnets for the 'fridge were making people's lives all that happier. I decided that I wanted to create something that people would want to wear. So one day, I went out on a limb & ordered a bunch of random jewelry-making supplies. When I got the package I started messing around & made some really bizarre items that were super lame. Then, just when I was about to put my sculpting supplies away & give up, I took one of the glass globes off of the 20 mm brass pendant it came with, & sculpted a tiny landscape with a little cactus.

Looking back now, it was a mess of a sculpture, but at the time, I LOVED IT. I wore it with all of my t-shirts & on all of my adventures, no matter what I was doing. I didn't know if anyone else would think it was cool, but honestly, it didn't really matter. I loved wearing my Earth Clay necklace so much that I was going to make more even if they were only just for me.

Low-in-behold, I wasn't the only one who loved them & eventually I decided to try selling them. The very first store I sold at (& still sell at!) was Serendipity Street Boutique in downtown Rapid City, SD. I was so nervous the first time I walked into this shop with a few of my hand-sculpted creations. Jordan had to give me a big pep-talk before I went inside! I think I was probably shaking (or at least inside I was!) & saying really awkward things, but it was one of the most exciting feelings ever when Amy, the shop-owner, decided to buy a dozen. For the rest of the weekend (aside from getting engaged to Jordan on top of a peek in the Black Hills) we went to different little shops & ended up selling in another location! Sure, some stores didn't want to buy my jewelry, & that bummed me out...but it was okay because the shop-owners that said yes made it all worth it.

Now, selling to over 15 stores across the US, my Etsy shop, various art shows, & my wildest dream of FINALLY having my National Park Series made available in various National Park Visitor Centers, I am beyond grateful for the small beginnings & the beauty of the unknown. Beauty of the unknown, say what?! It's true, sometimes the unknown scares me, but that's when I remember to refocus & remember that Jesus lives, he is working, those lilies of the field don't worry about anything, & I will be okay! Whenever I start getting nervous about what the future looks like, it just pulls me back to God and reminds me of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths."

So my friend, whatever the heck you're starting, in the middle of, or finishing, I want you to know that your small beginnings are beautiful. Your journey is worthy of celebration, & regardless of the rejections you're facing, or the fears that are lurking, God is making a way. If you need a little extra encouragement, maybe a shift in your mindset like I often do, print off this guide that I use whenever my fears seem disabling. It has helped me & I pray that it helps you!

Grab it here: "Facing Fear" Guide