Hi, I’m Molly Garibaldi, the founder of Throne of Grace. I’d love to take a moment to tell you the story of how this ministry started! In May of 2013 I had the privilege of being interviewed by Lindsey Cheney of The Pleated Poppy – hope you enjoy it!
1. What made you decide to start your business in prayer journals, cards, etc?
Well, I didn’t set out to start a business by any means! I was an elementary school teacher for many years before I quit to stay home with my first baby. He was VERY colicky the first year and I spent many hours up with him in the middle of the night. I wanted to use that time productively – and there’s not much you can do at 3 am – so I decided I should use that time to pray over him. There were many prayers I had been praying for him even since he had been in my womb but in the middle of the night, this sleep-deprived mama would end up praying the same prayer over and over or be falling asleep in the middle of my prayers! I decided that I should write my prayers down on index cards and then I wanted to look up scriptures to write on the cards to tie my prayers to God’s Word. That way, I would know my prayers were God’s will for my son. I could use the cards to help me stay focused in my prayer time and could flip through them a few each night.
Since making prayer cards wasn’t high on the to-do list of a new mom, they actually never got made until my daughter had come along. I had a friend who was having her first baby and that was my incentive to make them for her as a gift, then make myself a set in the process! My friend’s baby shower was the weekend before Mother’s Day so I ended up making 6 sets of prayer cards in all – one for my friend and several others for the moms and grandmas in the family as Mother’s Day gifts. I had “How to Pray for Your Children” and “How to Pray for Your Grandkids” – and that was going to be it!
God had other plans though and those 6 sets of prayer cards turned into 15 orders for more! As my husband watched me doing this all by hand with my little scrapbooking scissors and crafty paper and then taking them to Staples to be laminated in big sheets and then cutting those all out by hand, he decided God was leading us to a new ministry. For our anniversary a few months later, he gave me a most nontraditional gift – a professional laminating machine! He also created digital templates to get me started designing prayer cards on the computer. I began getting requests to create other titles – a friend wanted “How to Pray for Your Husband” for her anniversary and another wanted a set of scripture cards to help her through labor and delivery. That last set became “God’s Word for a New Mom” and our line of Bible verse memorization cards was born!
A few months later I opened my Etsy shop and began selling at local boutiques. The business has now grown to more than 40 prayer card and scripture card titles, as well as prayer journals for adults and kids, plus a number of additional products! The longer I do this, the more I see a hunger for God’s Word from people in all stages and seasons of life. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to partner with God in this work of helping others live and leave a legacy of prayer!
2. How long have you been in business?
5 years this month
3) How did you start your own business and what tips would you give to others who want to start one?
As I said, I didn’t plan on starting my own business so the honest answer is that I started it all backwards! I’ve learned the hard way in many cases and even 5 years later, I’m still in the process of trying to set things straight. Unfortunately, I think this is a common problem in the handmade business. You start out making something you love, selling it to friends, and before you know it, you have a business, but you’ve never taken the time to lay the groundwork. I’ve got five simple tips I would give to someone just starting out:
Pray and ask others to pray with you. You don’t want a business that God’s not leading and you’re going to need the support of others along the way. I didn’t humble myself and ask for prayer until I was about 2 years into it. At that time, I wrote “How to Pray for Your Business” and formed a prayer team of a few close friends and family that would be committed to praying for me and for Throne of Grace.
Be committed to keeping your spouse and family first – especially if this is not going to be a main source of income for your family! If the business is a winner – you can come back to it at any time, but you will forever regret time lost while your kids are young or when your spouse needs your time and attention.
Calculate the cost! Before you start selling your products, carefully consider all your costs (and potential costs down the line) – everything from materials, packaging, seller fees (if you are using Etsy or credit card processing companies like Paypal or Square), boutique fees, shipping costs, equipment maintenance, advertising, and of course, labor. If the business grows, you will need to hire employees to help! Be sure to build in plenty of profit into your price point. So often, particularly in the handmade business, we undersell ourselves! You can always lower your prices, but it is pretty hard to raise them.
Lay the groundwork – find financial software to use and set up a good system for your record-keeping. Get a fictitious business name, set up a business checking account to keep business transactions separate from your personal records, and learn about charging sales tax to customers and how to file sales and use taxes. It may sound a little overwhelming and like a lot of work – it is! But think how much easier it will be to do all that ahead of time instead of in the midst of a busy season of your business.
Love what you do! If you are not passionate about it and you don’t enjoy doing it, you won’t last for the long haul. There will be times where you’ll be up until 2 am getting ready for an 8 am boutique and you’ll ask yourself, “Why am I doing this??”. If you see a greater purpose, you’ll be able to push through those tough moments.
4) What is your favorite item currently in your shop and why?
Oh, my! Hard to pick, but I think I’d have to say our set of prayer cards, “How to Pray in Challenging Times” and the companion scripture cards, “God’s Word for Challenging Times”. I love these sets because there are so many hurting people out there and I’ve found these cards to be a great tool of encouragement and opportunity to share my faith. Whether people are suffering through loss of a loved one, financial struggles, divorce, cancer, or even the daily challenges of life, there is no greater gift you can give them than the blessing of God’s Word.
5) Which item is your best selling item?
Lately our Legacy Prayer Journals have been our big seller. These were created out of a desire to take the many prayer needs I feel burdened to pray for throughout the week and divide them up into manageable daily portions. I’ve found that having a cute, organized journal keeps me motivated and helps me be consistent in prayer. I had a very godly great-grandfather that recorded his prayers for our family in journals. My mom also modeled writing out her prayers and taught me the blessing of being able to look back and see the way God has answered prayer over time. Our prayer journals are all handmade and unique. We love seeing our customers get excited about using the journals to create a treasured memorial of God’s faithfulness in their life!
6) Describe your style in 5 words
This is tough! I had to ask my husband for help so here’s what we collectively came up with: timeless, simple, whimsical, practical, and genuine.
7) How do you find the time to manage your business, family life, and make new products? got any secret tips for us?
Well, since I was a day late getting these answers to Lindsey, I guess I still need help in this area! 🙂 Balancing all that is on my plate is certainly a challenge! I need to be very organized and segmented with my time. Though I do some work every day (when kids are at school or sleeping), I only have designated work days with my employees 2 days a week. When my kids and husband are home, I try to be present with them and only work when I am up against a deadline and have their support! I have to be pretty structured in keeping certain days of the week for grocery shopping, laundry, housecleaning, volunteering at school, and church ministry – or it won’t get done!
One of the decisions you need to make in starting a business is how much you are willing to work. The blessing of working for myself is that, for the most part, I’m in control of that. I’ve found that my customers are wonderfully supportive of my family life and as long as I’m clear upfront about turn-around time for my products, they are willing to wait. It is important to set limits for yourself and be okay with turning down opportunities if it will cause your priorities to get turned upside down.
There are three tools I use that I couldn’t do without: my Much Ado About You planner, my organizational notebook (a product of my own creation that I hope to have available for sale soon!), and a daily quiet time studying God’s Word.
8) What inspires you?
Beth Moore and Lysa TerKeurst are two of my top inspirations! Their Bible studies have been life-changing for me! I also get a lot of my inspiration from my sister, Emmy, who is much more creative and business-saavy than I am. I have very little time for surfing the internet, but when I need quick creative inspiration, like many of you, Pinterest is my go-to site!
9) What do you like to do when you’re not creating, marketing or selling?
In my free time, I like to spend time with my husband (of almost 12 years) and my kids (ages 7 and 5). I love to take walks through our town, play at the park, and play board games (our current favorite is Payday – we recently found my original version from childhood, created in 1975!). I also love to read books with my kids. They are both becoming avid readers so we take trips to the library just about every week. We are currently reading through the Little House on the Prairie series and have been humbled by the amount of physical labor that went into accomplishing the simplest task in those days! It sure makes my work load seem easy-peasy!