by Rachel Johnson
We’re back with part two of Heather Gardner’s Spotlight feature. Read more to learn about the obstacles she’s overcome in the fashion industry and the advice she has for those of you who are interested in launching your own business.
Q: What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve faced thus far in the jewelry industry?
The most difficult challenge I’ve faced and continue to face to this day is the culture of the fashion industry and the materialistic and superficial drive that is behind it. Before I became a jewelry designer, I would pride myself on the fact that I didn’t look at fashion magazines or celebrity gossip magazines, and then when I started pursuing this opportunity, it became part of my job that I had to do in order to stay current in the industry. So now I’m immersed in a slice of consumerism that is ultra-focused on outer beauty and has little to say about inner beauty.
The struggles that I face with self-image have to be laid down at the foot of the cross each and every day, and I find myself still going back and forth to keep my mindset on the things of the Lord. It is a challenge to keep a Godly perspective in the midst of the fashion world with all its glamour, beauty, and excitement. I believe that I have a proper balance and perspective now, but when I first started, I kind of got caught up in it all and lost myself a bit, sort of like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. I have to continually seek after the Lord’s heart, and sometimes I fail, but God is my foundation and He keeps me strong when I am weak.
One thing that I love about Wonderfully Made is that it is a constant reminder of the truth for our lives – we are all beautiful creations and we must cherish the beauty of the Lord, not of our bodies.
Q: When did you have that aha moment of knowing that designing jewelry and owning your company was the right fit for your life?
My last few years of teaching were spent with this uncomfortable feeling inside, like something needed to change, but I didn’t know what it was. I would often share with my colleagues that teaching wasn’t really doing it for me anymore and that there was something inside of me that needed expression. Little did I know it was designing jewelry!
After I decided to take my jewelry design hobby seriously, I purchased some equipment, supplies, and gemstones. I was teaching but on summer vacation, so my days were spent going to the beach, surfing and laying out, and then coming home to sit outside on my picnic bench while the sand dried on my toes. I would design for hours and that is when I began to feel that uncomfortable feeling of unexpressed creativity ease into an excitement and inspiration for jewelry design that hasn’t left since those summer months in 2006. God’s new vision for my life was realized in those months and I have been forever grateful since. I never knew that side of me existed, but once it began to flourish in my life, I realized that desire had been there the whole time.
Q: What advice would you give to women aspiring to launch their own jewelry company or start designing pieces for other businesses?
I would say that for anything you do, do it with prayer and supplication to the Lord. Often times, God has already planted the desire within us to venture into something that He has purposed for our lives. Whether it’s deciding to get married, having children, moving, or beginning (or changing!) a career, God will lead us if we are faithful to seek Him and take time to listen and obey His call. We need to be patient and allow Him to work and fill our hearts up with His leading.
I have always sought to have my business submit to His will. If I am in a slow season or if I am super busy or getting amazing press, the point remains the same: this isn’t about me. The business is what He wants it to be, and as long as I am working hard, seeking His will for my life, and submitting to His timing, then I believe that it all turns out the way He has planned. He gave me the business with His plans in mind, and it has been successful thus far but if that changes and things with the company take a different turn, I will be able to say that it is well with my soul because I trust in Him. I hope the same for any of you seeking to pursue your own opportunity, jewelry enterprise or otherwise.
How has Heather’s story inspired you?