How this mother of six boys blogged her way to success
BY BEV DESALVO
Have you ever wondered, How in the world did she do all of that? Well, we’re about to tell you!
Ten years ago, Ruth Chou Simons found herself living a much different life than she had imagined. She was a stay-at-home mom who had buried a few dreams along the way. With a degree in fine arts, some graduate work completed at seminary, and a love for writing, there was a lot still brewing inside of her. So, in the evenings, Ruth started to capture photos of God’s beautiful creation (in and outside of her home), and the GraceLaced blog was born in 2007. But, of course, that was only the beginning. It wasn’t an overnight success.
In 2013, with baby boy number six on her lap, Ruth joined a 31-day blogging challenge hosted by Nesting Place. Her theme was “Drawing Close” — which combined her passions for drawing, painting, and writing. Faithfully, Ruth posted her “Drawing Close” entry on Instagram, an account that she had only recently set up. But, she was committed to sticking to the challenge. Each post included insight about walking with the Lord, and they were each accompanied by Ruth’s artwork. By the end of the month, people were asking to purchase her art! Thus, the popular online shoppe, GraceLaced.com, was born. Now, a successful entrepreneur, popular writer, mother of six boys, and the wife of a pastor, Ruth’s devoted online following has already made her first book a hit.
If you sense that there’s a lot still brewing inside of you, read on! Ruth’s interview is a wonderful source of inspiration.
CALLED: How did the name “GraceLaced” originate, and what does it mean?
RUTH: GraceLaced blog was born in the summer of 2007 out of a desire to find God’s grace laced through the everyday of my life. I hit “publish” on my first blog post with no intention or agenda. [I simply wanted] to purposefully consider how my faith could intersect all the seemingly mundane in my life.
C: What inspired you to launch your online shoppe?
R: While my sixth boy was a baby, I began painting and drawing during nap time. I had recently joined Instagram, and found the platform such a natural place to combine my small daily attempts at getting back into art. And because it’s never been about painting techniques, I found myself writing short snippets of devotional thoughts. […] Soon, my readers responded with a desire to purchase [my art], and the shoppe was born. At the time, the market was not saturated with pretty hand-lettered scriptures as it is today. My artwork began as truths that I was preaching to myself, and [they] naturally became reproductions that I offered, as they spoke to others who appreciated the combination of beauty and truth.
C: What was the greatest challenge you encountered starting your business?
R: One of my earliest challenges was, and sometimes still is, how to balance the hustle it takes to meet the demands of a growing business [while maintaining] the family life you hope to have. There’s not much inspiration and creativity that blooms out of guilt and fear. So, we really had to gather the kids and talk through it as a family — determining our schedule, expectations, and what our family business would mean for us, together. I think we sometimes underestimate how much our kids want to come alongside and support or encourage our entrepreneurial endeavors. We might be tempted to separate those efforts from family life. But, for us, I sought to bring them in closer, sought to work alongside my kids at times, and ultimately give them a place at the table with my business. That can look like involving my family in stamping and sleeving, but it can also look like discussing my usage of social media with them, and encouraging them to understand why I’m called to my work.
C: If you could offer your pre-entrepreneur-self a word of advice, what would it be?
R: I’d tell my pre-entrepreneurial-self that waiting is not wasted. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. I think my [gifts], interests, and drive were all there years prior to beginning a business, but the timing was not right. Waiting is not wasted when we use that time to align our hearts with [God’s], rather than counting all the ways you’re missing out.