This week I'm introducing a new series called Inside KRW that will let y'all in to the happenings behind the scenes of the business. A lot of what happens begins with inspiration. KRW would never have started without the bright, go-getter, loving people that poured into me in one way or another and gave me the courage to start. So today I'm showcasing a few of the people who have had the strongest presence in making me and this business what it is whether they know it or not! I'm also talking about which of their qualities stood out to me the most and changed who I am.
1. Kitty Hurdle: Authenticity and Love
Campus Crusade for Christ Staff, Ole Miss (formerly USC)
I met Kitty my senior year of high school at Moe's with another inspiration on this post, Amy. My family at I were in Columbia visiting USC for the first time and Kitty was on staff with Cru at USC. My dad came to know the Lord through Cru in college so he wanted me to meet the staff at the college and get involved. We spent lunch talking about sorority recruitment, college life and how you can love Jesus and have fun in college. Once I started USC in Fall 2011, Kitty pursued me right off the bat. She took me exploring to try lemonade at Drip in Five Points, showed me the cheapest place to buy norts and invited me to join a bible study. I remember racking my brain to figure out why this awesome, beautiful, godly woman was making intentional time with a baby freshman amidst her busy schedule. Kitty just exudes Christ. She is the most transparent person I've ever met. She loves Jesus and everyone around her in a passionate way. She is creative and friendly and crazy humble. Even though I hold her to such high esteem, she always made me feel like I was worthy of being around her- like she wanted me around. That's a difficult combination to come by. Even now that she's states away, I still hang on her words. The way she's made me feel encouraged and able to tackle the world is what I can only dream to one day help others feel.
2. Amy Woodell Bardi: Purpose and Strength
CEO and Founder of Clothed in Hope, Zambia
I met Amy on that lunch with Kitty at Moe's as a senior. Not only did Amy give me insight into USC but she took me through Greek Village and talked to me about life. I immediately admired her because, like Kitty, she spent time on me. She was in the midst of starting her own non-profit called Clothed in Hope that teaches vulnerable women in Zambia (where she now lives) how to sew and build their businesses so they can regain courage and support themselves as well as their communities. The summer before my junior year I went on a mission trip to Zambia through my church in Columbia and got to see the community center that she runs firsthand. Being around Amy I realized how different she was from me and it really inspired me. She is strong-willed, bold, and extremely courageous. She navigated us through the slums and showed us the realities of Zambia life. Being with her always seemed purposeful- she always knew whose she was and therefore who she was. It was in the kitchen of her house in Zambia that I decided to go for KRW. She told me about getting a business license, what website host she used (before I even knew what a website host was...) and about paying taxes. I believed that I could build a website and company because I knew she already had. Knowing someone had gone before me made all the difference.
3. Sarena Escano Baker and Nicole Escano Hild: Warmth and Diligence
Owners of Sweetface Events, Washington D.C.
I met Sarena as a freshman in high school when she led a bible study I was in, but we reconnected after my freshman year in college while I was home anxiously anticipating a dream summer internship of wedding planning. I emailed Sweetface Events out of the blue and Sarena and Nicole welcomed me in to intern for their company. They made me feel like they wanted me there. I thought I would feel completely inadequate and feared holding them back from doing their job well, because I surely had NO idea what I was doing. But they believed on me and constantly told me that- even to the point where Nicole asked me to do the day-of coordinating for her own wedding. They were hard workers- so good at their job and I loved getting to serve weddings alongside them and learn from them. They cared for their brides so well and I loved watching how they handled situations. They answered the many questions I had with grace and even invited me to attend other vendor events with them. They both worked full-time jobs and had this company on the side, and I realized that's what I wanted to do also. Without them I never would have even known how to begin to start.
4. The ByFarr Team: Creativity and Service
ByFarr Design Studio, Columbia, S.C.
The ByFarr team has changed a bit since I met them- but Brynley, Chris, Laura, Margaret and Bailee have all had an impact on me. I reached out to ByFarr initially to do my business cards for KRW (on which they did a killer job). Then, when I was president of USC's wedding planning association I asked if our group could come in and hear about their stationery services and what the process looked like for a bride. The team later asked me to work an event they were hosting where Lara Casey (my next inspiration) was speaking. I freaked out, because I LOVE Lara Casey so I excitedly agreed. I had always thought about asking for a job at their studio, but having no design experience I never followed through- not sure of what I'd be able to offer them. But they sought me out and on my birthday this past year I met two friendly faces for an interview in which they shared with me their vision for the business and offered me an internship. I've only been in the studio as an intern for a few weeks, but everything I believed about the team before is true to the fullest extent. They are highly talented, creative, passionate- insanely good at what they do. They encourage me to think forward, and make me feel valued and competent even in the midst of all their sharp minds. What has stood out to me most is how they serve each other and always consider the feelings and goals of the people around them. Working in such close quarters with the same people every day, I was expecting to sense more tension and conflicts of ideas. But they surrender their pride to each other constantly- it's truly beautiful. They respect each other and know when to set aside work and just have real conversation over lunch. When mail men come in, they always offer them a Cherry Coke and greet them by name. It struck me and I'm sure it makes an impact on all the workers who walk through the doors as well. They've taught me a ton about how to foster good team relationships and I take much of what I learn from them with me into KRW.
5. Lara Casey: Surrender and Determination
Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings and Making it Happen, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Lara Casey wears many hats, and I admire all of them. One of the reasons I held off starting KRW for awhile was because I didn't want the business to be just about weddings. If it was, it would seem empty. I needed more purpose in my business for it to feel worthwhile. Reading Southern Weddings and looking through Lara's blog posts opened my eyes to the idea of letting God control my business, and giving Him glory for all His wins. Lara taught me about how to incorporate meaning into a wedding by celebrating where you're from and the people that have gotten you there. She is wildly successful and just gets it. I admire her even more after recently reading her new book, Make it Happen. That's what sets her apart from other wildly successful entrepreneurs. She surrenders to God, surrenders again and then surrenders again. She sets boundaries to separate her work and life such as social media-free weekends and not responding to work emails after she leaves work. She knows her goals and she is determined to meet them- and help others meet their goals as well. She has every reason to soak up her glory, she's accomplished a ton. But she gives God the glory and then shares it with everyone else. She has her priorities in order and always seeks to make her time meaningful and eternally significant. I've stalked met her in person twice and she is truly as authentic in person, even remembering me the second time. I'll never forget that. I have the upmost respect for her and so much of what's written on this blog is because of her.
I owe a LOT to these people that have spurred me on to know Jesus more, love more fully and do this work with passion and meaning. I could never repay all they've given me, and I thank God that he knew exactly what He was doing by crossing our paths. I wouldn't be who I am without them. There are many people I could add to this post that have inspired me, but that will be for another day and time! Hebrews 13:7 says, "Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith". I encourage y'all to find people who inspire you that you can look to follow when you lose sight of your goals.