“I just wanted to hoard washi tapes,” Jenny Trinidad-Carlos, owner of Art & Sky, would say. She was just hoarding art materials for her own enjoyment, but because she couldn’t help her business-minded self, she thought of a way to sustain her own passion—by creating a business out of it.
A Manila-based boutique arts and crafts store, Art & Sky sources washi tape, paper products, craft tools, and party supplies and sells them online. On top of this, Jenny also co-owns a real estate business called Brick & Click with her husband. She’s my cousin, by the way, and as someone who grew up with her and saw her early dreams of establishing her own business and doing what she loves, I couldn’t be any more proud and happy that she actually ends up living her dream.
That said, Jenny is one of the first people I talked to about establishing Pursuit Community in the Philippines. She’s a creative soul and an experienced business woman at the same time, and I just know that there is so much she can impart to struggling creative business owners about pursuing passions and how to make a living out of them.
And so we invited her to share her story at the Pursuit Manila Made with Love gathering, and her testimony has left all of us feeling inspired and empowered to take God’s lead and use our God-given gifts to pursue what He has called us to do.
That’s Jen, then pregnant at 5 mons, manning the Art & Sky booth at the Pursuit Manila Fair.
I thought it’s just fitting to share Jenny’s testimony here on the blog as well, because YOU can definitely learn a thing or two from her journey.
I’ll let Jenny take it from here. :)
I was asked to share something about my journey doing Art and Sky as a passion business, but I’d like to go beyond my 1 year journey with Art and Sky and share with you my journey as a full-time entrepreneur.
I love doing business. It has been my childhood dream to become a business woman. As a kid, I would answer “when I grow, I want to be a business woman”. As a teenager, I would read business books—way back when I literally had zero in my pocket, and without anyone to ask money from. I had nothing. But I knew in my heart that I’d love to do business even if it was very impossible to pursue.
Years of mistakes, employment and unemployment, freelancing, wandering, trying, losing money, getting scammed, sleepless nights, reading dozens of books, talking and learning from people I look up to, crying buckets of tears, and many more unforgettable and unusual experiences I knew I would never have gone through if I didn’t choose to leave my day-job.
I was an Online Business Development Manager when I decided to resign from a good paying job at the end of 2009. I was 26. Ang katwiran ko noon, I was young, single, and I had nothing to lose, and with so little to risk… this is the right time to pursue my dreams. After all, sanay akong mabuhay ng walang pera :) Lakasan lang ng loob. Of course, it wasn’t just self-confidence on my part; more importantly, I had confidence that God will take care of me.
In mid-2010, the opportunity came and I explored the real estate industry. Honestly, it was an industry I didn’t like, and Sales is not exactly my skill, it’s beyond my comfort zone, and not how I imagined myself to be in. But even though for me it was all uncertain, God’s plan was surely bright and clear.
I dedicated myself to learning for a year, and became a Sales Agent of Avida. I read and researched, sat down with clients, and distributed flyers on malls and houses. I immersed myself in their system, not because of what I will earn, but because of what I will learn—stuff I know I’d use in my future dream business. That same year, I attended a real estate class for 2 months, and took the PRC licensure exam.
In 2011, I got my PRC license, quit Avida, birthed our first baby—Brick and Click Realty and Development Corporation. Our second baby is Art and Sky, and we have our third business in progress. In 4 years, I learned all about the real estate market, sales, leasing, property management, renovations, HR, training, we had to learn it all! With Art and Sky, I learned importation, manufacturing, retail, sourcing suppliers, customer service, etc.
This journey is made with love. If not for love, I wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith to start my own business. If not for love, I wouldn’t have carried on in spite of hardships and trials. And if not for God’s love, I wouldn’t be standing here testifying how good and gracious our God is for allowing us to pursue our dreams.
Some pointers I want you to remember today:
You are made with love.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Remember that you are made with love. Christ died on the cross for you because He loves you. And because of this love, we are SURE that our life and our future is safe and secured in the palm of His hand. Whatever happens, whatever life choices we make, whatever plans we map out, whatever dreams we dream, hindi nya tayo iiwan o pababayaan—His will and His love will prevail.
God made a beautiful plan for your life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
God has a plan for you, and always pray that you’ll walk within the perimeter of God’s will. Dream, as long as your dreams are fully surrendered to Him, as long as your dreams are aligned to His Word.
You can make something out of love.
We all have God-given talents, and God has given you everything that you need to start. Uncover, unveil, and discover those God given gifts, develop and harness those God given skills waiting to be awakened. Like what I shared with you earlier, I started with literally nothing. You can start now, you can start today. Don’t wait till you have more savings, you have more time—because that timing that you are waiting for, will not come.
Make your love right.
As Christians, pursuing love for craft and business should NOT be love for money or success or fame. It’s about loving God, and embracing your talents, your purpose, and your calling. Yes, being an entrepreneur, a crafter, or an artist is a calling. And this journey is about knowing God more, and making Him known.
Love the “whole”, not just “parts” of it.
Like romantic love, you will discover that there will be many elements of doing business that you may not like. For example, answering texts or PMs. Trust me, even if you have on your website and social media pages all the details they need to order a product, you will still receive a message that says “How much?” Or, even if some customers reserve and order products, some will still not pay. It’s reality.
As creative people, we don’t normally like math, but if you decide to do business, you have to do a lot of Accounting and Cash Flow analysis. Especially when you are just starting, you have to do every part of it—sales, marketing, accounting, operations, ordering, inventory, shipping, and for others, you’re probably the one crafting your own product also.
Even if you start to hire someone to assist you, you’d be his/her trainer and manager still. I can’t describe it better than comparing it to married life—there are traits in your husband that you like, and traits that you don’t like. Nonetheless, you love the person as a whole, and fulfill all the roles of a wife because of love and commitment.
Commitment requires dependence on God.
I’ve shed buckets of tears, celebrated over successes, and sometimes had to do some damage control because of other people’s mistakes. It’s a series of extreme highs and extreme lows. Siguro nabaliw na ko kung hindi ako Kristiyano. But this is the love I committed to—no separation, no resignation.
Honestly, we’re facing one of the toughest phases in the company. The past few months, people were beginning to be too lenient, unproductive, not working when we’re not in the office, in effect we lost a couple of sales, unmet sales targets, one resignation after the other, then I was on bedrest for a month, while our financial obligation never stops. You can imagine me in tears every morning and night, praying for miracles and for God’s rescue, because my body and my hormones prevent me from working like a horse like I used to do. I cling on to His promise, that He who began a good work in me will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. With God, I am SURE and I am SECURED. What could be better than that?
Lastly, this business, this life, is not our own.
Always remember, that our life is not our own, but God’s. We are but God’s stewards. We are stewards of our businesses, our jobs, our families. Our wallets are not our own, but a God given channel of blessings. Be thankful for everything that God has entrusted to you.
Although I may be experiencing troubles at the moment, I still will never trade this “calling” that God has given me. I am grateful for the “better life” God has given me, for the learnings I never thought I could all absorb, for the opportunity to touch and bless other people’s lives, and for the partnership I have with my husband in all our businesses. I am very grateful that because of these businesses, we have our time in our hands—time for work, for crafting and hobbies, for travel, and soon, for raising our child. All of this unfolded when I took a leap of faith, and when I set my eyes to pursue God’s calling for me.
So, if your dreams are all there in your head, make it happen. After all, our God is faithful. He will surely back us up.
Know More about Art & Sky and Brick & Click Realty
Dream Chasers Blog Series
This post is part of a special blog series where I feature passionate creatives, travelers and dreamers who have made a choice to chase their dreams and pursue what makes their hearts soar.
I believe in learning and finding inspiration from other people’s stories, which is what this series is all about. I hope that as we get to know these dream chasers’ lives and visions and challenges, we find valuable lessons and inspiration that will help us in our own journey. Read more from this series HERE.