Today I am so excited to introduce to you Gretchen Saffles, the lovely woman behind Life Lived Beautifully! I first met Gretchen at The Influence Conference last year and have been following her online ever since. She is an incredible woman of God who desires to use her WHOLE life for God and the Kingdom and I am always so inspired and encouraged by her example! I have a few of her amazing products (the Give Me Jesus Journal and the Proverbs 31 Woman study) and they have totally transformed my prayer life. I'm humbled to feature her here as a brand crush and hope that you'll find encouragement and inspiration from her, too!
1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do? Hi! I’m Gretchen Saffles, first and foremost a follower of Jesus, wife to my best friend, Greg, soon-to-be-momma to our boy in May, creator of Life Lived Beautifully, author of A God-Sized Love Story, dreamer of dreams bigger than myself, and lover of coffee! The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to create products that women can use on a daily basis to know Jesus more. Last May, I created the “Give Me Jesus” Journal for women to use in their quiet times, and since then have been able to write two Bible studies for women as well as create several other Bible study tools. My heart is to see women set on fire for the Lord, and I love finding creative ways to inspire them through art, writing, and even Instagram! My husband and I currently live in Knoxville, TN, and we dream of traveling the world one day with our family.
2. Describe a typical day. A typical day in my life is anything but typical. I thrive off of flexibility and days that change. I used to believe that as a creative business owner, I had to have a “perfect day” to really make things happen and live a full life. God has set me free from this desire to be “perfect” to have a desire to have fullness right where God has me, in the mess, the change, and the new things each day brings. With that said, here is as good of a “typical” day I can come up with -
6:30 - Wake up, head downstairs, grab a cup of coffee (we set it up the night before so it is ready in the morning), sit at the green couch and have my quiet time. My husband sits across from me in a recliner reading his Bible and drinking coffee. These are my favorite moments of the day!
7:30 - Get dressed to go on a walk/exercise.
8:30 - Shower and get ready for the day (sometimes this doesn’t happen until after lunchtime;) My best work hours/thinking times are in the morning, so that is when I write, answer emails, and work on projects! Showering gets the shaft in busy seasons. :)
9:00 - Start the work day! Make a thorough weekly and daily to-do list, answer emails, post on social media and respond to social media, schedule blog posts, etc.
12:00 - Eat lunch with my husband.
1:30 - Have a Skype meeting with my business partner, Whitney. We Skype and catch up on projects while her kiddos nap!
2:30 - Work on more projects
3:30 - Usually by mid-afternoon I have a coffee date with a friend or work on some house projects. At this point in the day my mind stops working clearly and I need a good break!
4:30-5:30 - Finish up projects before Greg comes home and work on dinner
6:30-9:30 - This changes every night! Most nights we are fellowshipping with friends at our small group or doing something at church (my husband works at a church plant), but on our off nights we usually do something outdoors and spend time together!
9:00 - Our phones go in another room (a new rule we implemented to spend more quality time together, sleep better, and put Jesus first), we read in bed and hang out, and then fall asleep around 10:30!
3. How do you stay inspired? The biggest way I stay inspired is through fellowship with other believers, nature, and travel. I lead a group of college girls and can honestly say they inspire me the most! Their passion for Jesus and love for life constantly gives me new ideas for products! It is so important to have fellowship with the body of Christ as a part of our day-to-day. Nature also stirs my creativity in the most amazing ways! Whether it be through flowers, wonders of the world, or just sitting by the lake, nature has a way of igniting a fire in my heart to paint and write. Lastly, travel is my biggest inspiration! My husband and I are always trying to incorporate adventure into our schedule - whether it’s a day trip somewhere, trying a new restaurant, traveling overseas on a mission trip, or getting outside of our comfort zone - we are most inspired by really living life, going new places, and meeting new people.
4. What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity? My favorite way to cultivate creativity is to immerse myself in culture. God has already created so many amazing things in this world, including people and customs. I majored in Fashion Merchandising in college and my favorite class was on Dress and Culture. If I ever want to cultivate and grow my creativity, I look to other cultures and how they live. I also LOVE going to art museums and have a goal of going to every art museum in major cities we visit. So far I am doing pretty good with this goal! Seeing the patterns and techniques other artists use as well as how they see the world through a different lens inspires my creativity like no other!
5. How did you get started doing what you do? I love this question because I never really tried to get to where I am. The Lord had me keep walking and following Him and truly did it all. I began Life Lived Beautifully in May 2013 as a handmade business first making headbands, vintage accessories, skirts, and key necklaces. My husband and I got married in November of 2012 and moved to a new city the following February. In the midst of that, my mom was admitted to the hospital with a rare autoimmune disease while we were on our honeymoon. Her autoimmune disease caused significant nerve damage that made her have to learn to walk again. During this season, I felt God calling me to start a business/ministry that would allow me to have flexibility to help take care of her as well as share the love of Christ through creative ways.
I never could have dreamed I would be selling journals less than one year after starting Life Lived Beautifully. The first 6 months of business were filled with learning, hard lessons, and big dreams. It wasn’t until another friend was admitted to the hospital and almost died that I began to paint again. I painted a watercolor that said “Jesus Only Jesus” out of an act of worship and prayer. When I posted about it, the Lord made it clear that I needed to start painting again for His glory. In 2014, I started selling stationery with paintings on them and then He planted the seed for an even bigger dream - to create a journal that women could use each day to spend time with the Lord. The Give Me Jesus journal was birthed out of a deep longing to truly make a difference for Christ. I longed to make more than just necklaces that adorn women’s necks, but to make journals that the Lord would use to deepen women’s love for Jesus in a lasting, eternal way. The first journals launched in May 2014 and sold out within an hour. After that, God has continued to grow and expand Life Lived Beautifully to be a worldwide ministry.
6. What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?) One of my favorite blogs/monthly reads is Set Apart Girl. This is an online magazine started by Leslie Ludy that has greatly impacted my life throughout the years and stirred my affections for Christ! I also keep up with Revive Our Hearts, the ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and love their articles and podcasts! Another daily read would be My Utmost For His Highest which is one of my favorite devotionals! It always gets straight to my heart.
7. What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest? Time in the Word gets the answer to this hands down. When I am weary and running dry, I know that I need to turn the phone off (and often delete social media), get away with the Lord and just spend time in His Word with just the longing to be with Him rather than get something from Him. Turning off my phone and reading or writing restores my soul in a lot of ways! A way that I rest is spending time with my husband and even going on some kind of outdoors adventure. Prior to pregnancy, I would rest even through running or biking. The Lord uses physical activity in my life to fill me up again and even to help my body sleep better and mind think clearer. The last obvious way I rest is by taking naps (and I feel like I should share here that just woke up from one;).
8. If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say? Keep your eye on the prize. The prize is not followers, sales, and fame. The prize is knowing Christ more and more. Don’t look to other creatives and say “I could do that” and merely replicate what they are doing. We serve an original God with a million original ideas. Each one of you has His thumbprint stamped on your heart with a unique vision and calling. You will never get anywhere by following someone else's calling, but you will go miles by following Jesus. Growing as an entrepreneur takes a lot of time, but so do all good things. When you need this reminder, take a look at an oak tree. Oak trees take hundreds of years to grow, but are the strongest, tallest, and most deeply rooted trees. You want your business/endeavors to be like that oak tree, firmly rooted in Christ, making an eternal Kingdom impact.
9. Share five products/apps that make your life easier / you can't life without. I love this question! First, I use my Day Designer by Whitney English each day to plan out my schedule and to-do lists. Second, I use the Notes app on my phone to type out all Instagram posts before sending them off to the online world. I know that sounds so simple, but this has helped me be more prayerful and mindful about what I post. It’s not fancy, but it is core to what I do. I use my Give Me Jesus journal to spend time in the Word each day and that has been so fruitful in my quiet times! I also recently was gifted a May Designs Meal Planner and am loving being more organized in this area of my life! The layout of the journal is so practical and helpful! The last product I use that has been fruitful in my business are Powersheets that Lara Casey created. These keep me on track and going toward the goals God has placed on my heart each month!
10. Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to? I love a good impromptu dance party! But I’m not gonna lie, I have sat here for ten minutes looking into blank space trying to come up with a specific song! My favorite moments are the ones where my husband and I are playing Spotify radio and something comes on that we dance to and laugh wildly at as we cook in the kitchen. It’s not a song, but it’s a sacred moment and those are my favorite!