Interviews

Stepping Forward In Boldness

901 1024 Lauren Kennedy
It is so amazing how the Lord continuously restores our fears and heals in ways that are unimaginable and unexpected. I experienced that last week when I was interviewing with the lovely Larry King. He challenged me in his wisdom to free myself up, to stop hiding! I took off my prosthetic arm for the first time in the public eye, and it truly was the most liberating experience. For years, I extended my vulnerable side with those I was most comfortable – my husband, my family, and only my friends in Dallas.
My husband has been encouraging me for a few years to confidentially walk in my full self and story, all the while being gracious in knowing that I needed to feel ready. God is so good in how He provided such a unique opportunity to do this while filling me with such peace and readiness in the moment. I am overflowing with gratefulness and empowerment and have been so humbled by all of the support!
Do you feel like you are hiding something in your life that is keeping you from living in full freedom? I encourage you to step forward in boldness, no matter how hard it may seem. You will not regret it, and we are all in this together!
images by Felicia Lasala
top (c/o) | denim | bandana | sunnies (c/o)

Indego Africa: Empowering Women

1024 683 Lauren Kennedy

I stumbled across this beautiful brand on social media recently and quickly felt inspired to do a little research about what this organization was all about. I am so moved by the mission and purpose of Indego Africa – it is such a breath of fresh air and so encouraging to see the huge change happening in families, communities, and the confidence and value of these precious women in Rwanda and Ghana. It is just beyond beautiful.  Scroll down if you are ready to be inspired to the core. P.S. Standing ovation to Anthropologie for carrying this brand, too! I love companies that desire contributing to change.


How was the idea of Indego Africa born?

Indego Africa was founded in 2007 with a simple idea: Empower women artisans in Africa by showcasing their beautiful craft and investing in the power of education. Since our founding, Indego’s mission has always been to help artisans lift themselves and their families out of poverty and become empowered businesswomen. The artisan sector is the second largest informal employer in the developing world. Despite its potential, the industry remains untapped as a resource for income generation, job creation, and economic growth in under-resourced communities. Since 2007, Indego Africa has played a critical role in changing this by providing artisans, especially women and young people, with access to markets, vocational training, and education. We believe that women around the globe have the capacity, creativity, and determination to uplift themselves, their families, and their communities—all they need are the opportunities!

What is your favorite part of working with the artisans in Rwanda and Ghana?

All of it! I love how collaborative the process is. These groups of artisans look to us for market and business opportunities, and we look to them for production and a chance to show the world their exceptional artistry and craftsmanship. Seeing how much dedication to and passion for craft they have is so inspiring to me. It helps shape the vision of our brand in the best possible way. I also love how, as partners, we’ve being able to grow together. I started at Indego Africa 6 years ago, when many of our partners were also just forming their businesses, and looking back, I feel like we were all babies in this journey! We’ve worked through cultural challenges, business related bumps in the road, collaborative successes, (epic) failures and, most importantly, we’ve experienced moments of incredible joy, growth, empowerment and pride – all together as partners. I consider the commitment of these women to our shared mission to be the most essential element to the success of our company. I love, love, love building this brand together, hand in hand with them!

How often does your team travel to Africa and what is that experience like?

Indego Africa is a global team that truly prides itself on maintaining a collaborative culture. Our design, marketing, fundraising and operations team members are based out of New York City and our wonderful local teams in both Rwanda and Ghana oversee and implement the direct to artisan social impact programs and production logistics. We believe in having a connected and collaborative relationship with the artisans we partner with and try to visit our cooperative sites as often as we can (and have our local teams visit NYC whenever possible)!

The artisans we work with share our passion for education, artistry, and the future of their country and it’s a common bond that connects us as partners. Our local teams in Rwanda and Ghana are with them, day to day, sitting down with these women and discussing their lives, their goals, and their insights into our work and or partnership. So many of our programs and educational initiatives (which you can learn more about here) were started because of the direct feedback from our partners. We are invested deeply in these communities, and it is so important to us to make sure the opportunities and support we are providing is relevant and helpful in their lives and our local teams are the ones making sure this is happening on a daily basis.

On a personal note, I am forever in admiration of these hardworking women and visiting our artisan partners is an inspiring, invigorating and motivating experience. I have learned so much about grace, strength and pure hard work from them, especially when I’ve had the opportunity to see in person the way they carry themselves, to sit down next to them and observe them at work and to talk to them, woman-to-woman, about all the things that make them who they are.

Indego Africa items are all so lovely and unique- we would love to hear about the design process in NYC. What is that process like?

Thank you! For me, the design process looks different for every product but always has the same creative spin behind it. The first thing it always starts with is the artisan element itself. What can our partners make with the skills and materials they have? What will be a good fit for our brand aesthetically and will it showcase their artistry? Whenever I’m seeking – or seeing – inspiration these are the parameters front and center in my brain. From there, I focus on using color and pattern to tell a story but also showcasing the power of texture through neutrals. I want our products to feel happy, well-made, and to evoke a sort of casual chic design element.  We sell home goods, baby and kids décor and apparel, women’s accessories, art and objects, but we always make sure our product line feels cohesive and comprehensive. What are the designs that would be able to tick all these boxes while also following trends in the markets we serve? The design process can feel sort of like a puzzle sometimes – and that’s before we even start sampling! ☺ Once we have an idea that will work, I communicate with our production teams in Rwanda and Ghana, who then sit down and work with the artisans to see if the piece can come to life the way we want through a traditional sampling process. From there, we review, redesign, and resample. Then within a few weeks, months, or seasons, we have a new product. It is my favorite part of the job to be a part of this global design process!

What is the inspiration behind some of your favorite pieces in the collection?

Right now I’m really loving our woven hat and bag collection. A few years ago it occurred to me that these artisans, while experts in basket-weaving, had the perfect skill set to make the ever popular “straw” summer bag and hat but just didn’t have the right vision. It took a few months – or maybe closer to a year ☺ – of sampling but when we got the shapes and look right it was easy to think of creative ways to make the traditional woven bag feel on brand and interesting to our customers. This year we added lots of textured raffia pops and fun hand-embroidered bag charms and accents. I love how these pieces at the same time feel both traditional and of the moment and add a handmade and possibly unexpected pop to any outfit (or bathing suit for the beach beauties out there!).

Your mission is so beautiful from start to finish, but the part of profits earned going to education programs for the artisans is truly extraordinary. What are some of the education programs that the artisans enroll in?

Indego’s education programs include foundational business education and financial management, technology training for the workplace, skills-based vocational education, and advanced leadership and entrepreneurship training. It’s through these programs that women and youth in both Rwanda & Ghana develop the skills they need to grow their own businesses, become entrepreneurs, and create economic growth in their communities. Combined with access to global markets and work opportunities, Indego’s education programs ensure that our partners are not solely dependent on us for their livelihoods, but rather, are actively building the knowledge, tools, and expertise to achieve financial independence and realize their full potential as leaders and change-makers.

Recently, we’ve also partnered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on a special project providing artisan vocational training to Burundian refugees in the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda. The goal of this project is to help female refugees improve their livelihoods by building the skills necessary to participate in the artisan economy. We’re excited about this new program and the potential Indego Africa has to help create opportunities for a group of incredibly deserving and hardworking women!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We’d love for you to bring a piece of Indego Africa to your lives! Please use code IndegoShop for 25% off your purchase from Indego Africa.

Save

Q&A with lysa terkeurst

1024 683 Melissa Mayer

q&a with lysa terkeurst | lolo magazine

image via the proverbs31 facebook page

Lysa Terkeurst is the author of quite a few books including The Best Yes, Unglued, and most recently, Uninvited. She is also the founder of Proverbs31, a ministry that seeks to help women find and develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Lauren and I are both big fans of Lysa, her books, and Proverbs 31 and are so excited to share with you a Q&A series that we recently did with Lysa. Our questions and her answers are below! xo

-Hi Lysa! We are such big fans of yours and are so excited to be chatting with you today. First question- what was the inspiration behind Uninvited?

Thank you for this opportunity! The process with Uninvited was a bit different than my other books. Most of the time when I write a book I’m on the other side of whatever issue I’m tackling. So, when I wrote Uninvited, I thought I was writing from the vantage point of looking back at past rejections to admit they were still affecting me and seeking healing. But God saw what was about to hit me and had me knee deep in studying how to handle rejection with a deep assurance of His unwavering love because He knew I would need this message most of all. I had no idea that the words I wrote in this book last year would be a pure gift from God I desperately needed this year. I didn’t know I would find myself curled up with the rough draft pages of Uninvited thanking God through my tears for the healing balm this message has poured over my soul. Rejection isn’t just a complicated emotion. It’s an utter devastation of what we thought was real and safe and secure. And it affects us all way more than we’d like to admit. We are all either trying to heal from a past rejection, deal with a present rejection, or fear that an unexpected rejection is just around the corner. So this book is about finding the acceptance and love we’ve always longed for and starting to pick up the pieces that we’ve been trying to put back together for years. I chose this topic because I want us to dig in to the core of who we are and expose and finally heal rejection’s deep infection. It’s not a tidy process. But it’s honest. And it’s good.

-I am currently reading Uninvited and one of my favorite messages so far is the concept of Living Loved. It’s truly amazing how much better everything is when you come from a place of love, instead of insecurity, rejection, and fear. Do you have any quick tips how to get back to the feeling of Living Loved, if you have found yourself slipping away from that loving, safe place?

Satan’s lies flee in the presence of God’s truth. So I think the best thing we can do is saturate our hearts with Scripture when we start to lose sight of God’s love for us. Some of my favorite passages to go to are:

Psalm 91 | Zephaniah 3:17 | Colossians 3:12 | Psalm 139:13-16

-You seem to have an amazing and tight-knit family! I follow your daughters Hope and Ashley on Instagram and love seeing their pics. Can you tell us about your family and how you guys stay so close, despite different locations and busy schedules?

Four out of my five kids live in town which is an amazing blessing. Several years ago, our family started a tradition called Monday Night Dinners where we all gather together at our sticky farm table to share a meal and spend time together. It’s a constant in the midst of everyone’s busy schedules and our favorite day of the week. I think the secret to staying close is intentionality.

-We know that you had three family weddings this year- so crazy and incredible! What was that like? Give us a few details 🙂

I never thought or dreamed in a million years that three of my kids would get married in the same year. It was quite a journey filled with lots of planning and late night crafting sessions. Our oldest daughter, Hope, wed in February with an elegant, formal, uptown wedding complete with the unexpected twist of playing corn hole in our formal gowns. Ashley was married in the Alabama countryside in April with market lights, vintage furniture, a pizza and hamburger reception, and her favorite popsicles and donuts! Our son, Jackson, just said “I do” this fall in a lovely garden ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee. I told each of my kids before their special day, “Embrace the unexpected. Smile at the crazy. Laugh at the unplanned. And relax. If you bring the happy, your day will be beautiful.” But this advice was really for day one of their marriages as well. The happiest couples are the ones who are able to embrace imperfections!

-I am a loyal reader of Proverbs31 and follower of the Instagram! I don’t know what I would do without the daily encouragements that you and your team provide on the site and on social media. Can you share with our readers the concept behind Proverbs31?

Over 20 years ago, I helped start a place where women could gather and learn God’s perspective on how to do life through the pages of His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries exists because I desperately needed someone to help me connect life with God’s truth. And I still do. So, every day my team and I gather together to think through life-giving resources like our free devotions, First 5 app, online Bible studies, social media encouragement, and more. We’re so very grateful to be able to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

-After writing that last question, it occurred to me that you are one busy lady!! Do you have any tips on how to wear several different hats, as many women do?

Honestly, I have to say “no” to many things so I can give my “best yes” to the unique things that God has called me to. This doesn’t come naturally to me because I struggle with being a people pleaser! I wrote a book about this called The Best Yes where I share Biblical ways to prioritize in a world full of endless demands.

-Your Facebook page is a favorite of mine and I am so thankful for your daily posts, quotes, and words of encouragement. What is your strategy when using Facebook to connect with fans?

My deepest desire is to meet women where they are – whether it’s a mom in a carpool line, a wife facing a hard marriage, or a single gal trying to figure out what God has for her. So with that in mind, I weave together encouraging words to whoever might be on the other end of that computer screen or smart phone. It’s an amazing privilege to get to speak life into women around the world.

-It’s tough to just pick one, but we would love to know your all-time favorite biblical verse, that you always keep in mind?

That really is a tough one! I love God’s Word so much. I don’t think I could pick a favorite. But I do love Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” This brings me so much peace and helps me to remember that a pure heart doesn’t mean a perfect person. If my pure intention is to see God, I will. And while I can’t see the Lord’s physical form, I can see evidence of His activity all around me. This is my hope in the midst of hurt and the great joy of my life despite painful circumstances. The Lord really is the greatest love of my soul!

*Shop Lysa’s books, here:

10 Questions With Rachel Cruze

700 700 Melissa Mayer

10 questions with Rachel Cruze / lolo magazine

Lauren and I were so thrilled to receive copies of Rachel Cruze’s new book with incredible financial (and life) advice- Love Your Life, Not Theirs.  Rachel’s book is one of those resources that you will keep going back to for sound, smart tips for keeping your finances in order and staying focused on your situation instead of comparing yourself (and your finances) to that of others. This is a very important and timely reminder due the large presence of social media in our lives, which makes getting caught up in the comparison game extremely easy. With Rachel’s help, we can tune out the desire to want more and spend more, and instead be content and make wise choices when it comes to our finances. Below are our questions + Rachel’s answers!

  1. We are so inspired by the concept of not comparing your life to another person’s life. That is so crucial for not just financial happiness, but happiness in general! What made you want to write a book focused around that idea?

As I travel around the country and talk to people, I’ve noticed the comparison living trend. Twenty years ago you actually had to see the Joneses in person to compare our lives to them. Now we carry them around in our back pockets on our phones. We’re letting other people dictate how we spend our lives and our paychecks. I want people to realize that when they’re scrolling through social media, they’re seeing people’s highlight reels, not the entire picture. When they see a friend’s newly remodeled kitchen, they don’t see the second mortgage they took out to fund the project, which may be causing money fights and stress on their marriage. I want to empower people to have tunnel vision when it comes to their money. I want them to focus on their own values and spend their money according to their values, not someone else’s.

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about your history- what led you to be interested in personal finances and helping others manage their money?

Growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter, I saw the positive impact he made on people’s lives. I was born the year my parents filed bankruptcy and spent my life watching them rebuild their financial lives by avoiding debt and living intentionally. When I was in college my “financial bubble” was popped. The lack of knowledge people had when it came to their money was shocking. This gave me a passion to help people understand the importance of handling money wisely from an early age.

 

  1. What do you see as the biggest danger of the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality?

The road of comparisons always ends with debt. It’s almost impossible to be satisfied with your own life when you are constantly looking at what someone else has or the lifestyle they’re living. In our culture, we often let other people dictate our values and priorities. You have to know what you value most in life because all of your money habits flow out of what’s important to you: career choices, purchases, and investments. To steer clear of debt and meet your financial goals, you sometimes have to say no to your wants and make sacrifices for your needs. Every decision you make will bring you closer or pull your further from your ultimate financial goals.

 

  1. What would be your biggest piece of advice for women in their mid to upper twenties?

You have the opportunity to create the life you want. Though it may not feel like it right now, it’s within reach—not thirty years from now, but right now. Change happens when you own up to the choices you make. If you don’t like the outcomes you’ve created for yourself, such as debt, money stress, or dissatisfaction in general, then start making different choices that will create new habits in your life.

 

  1. Finances are obviously a big part of a serious relationship and especially marriage! What advice do you have for women when discussing finances with their significant other?

One of the quickest ways married couples can put a strain on their marriage is to not be on the same page about money. In fact, one of the top reasons for divorce is money fights and money problems. So couples need to communicate about their finances. They should sit down and talk about their financial goals and make a plan to reach them. They should also make a budget together, every month before the month begins. A budget gets a bad rap, but all a budget does is tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Getting in the habit of talking about money is tough.  But you have to be intentional when it comes to talking about money—even when it’s hard.

 

  1. What personal experiences brought you to the place of really valuing financially smart decision making and planning?

Over the years, I’ve come in contact with so many people who are struggling to make ends meet because of debt and poor decisions with their money. I feel so grateful that I was given this information early on, so I could make wise decisions with my money and avoid the debt, stress, and worry so many people live with. Because of the planning and choices my husband and I have made, we’re able to enjoy our money and make it work for us.

 

  1. The comparison game is a very real, dangerous trap. Do you feel that social media has made this problem worse, and if so, how do you suggest people remain active on social media, without falling into the comparison trap?

Social media has definitely made it easier to compare our lives to others, but it isn’t entirely to blame. Comparisons is a heart issue. Social media is just the vehicle that can take you down the road to comparisons. Comparisons bring discontentment. To be content you have to be grateful; and in a heart filled with gratitude, there’s no room for discontentment. Some people look for contentment in their income and possessions, but they’ll never find it there. Contentment happens on the inside, and when you have it, it’s there no matter how much money you make or how much stuff you have.

 

  1. When it comes to saving first and spending second, what is your biggest piece of advice for people who sometimes don’t feel they have enough to save first?

You have to make savings a priority. I’ve met so many people who tell me they make a budget each month and just don’t have the money to save when they finish paying all their bills. That’s because their budget is upside down. I understand people may not have a lot of money to save right away, but it’s important to start the habit. And making it the first item on their budget will help them find places where they can cut so they have the ability to save.

 

  1. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home with parents who always lived within their means and shared that mentality with me. In your mind, what does “living within your means” look like exactly?

In our culture, debt is normal. People think they “need” debt to make it in the modern world. It’s so normal that the average American family sends almost 25 percent of their paychecks right back out the door to consumer debt. But living within your means is all about being clear and intentional about how you’ll use your money. It doesn’t mean living within your credit limit. It’s being proactive with your money instead of reactive and not overspending.

 

  1. What is your biggest wish when it comes to what people will take away from reading Love Your Life, Not Theirs?

Habits affect every part of our lives, including our health, careers, productivity, relationships, and especially our money. We all have money habits. Some are good, and some are bad. Some take us closer to where we want to be, while others take us further and further away.

The truth is, though, breaking bad money habits and replacing them with good ones can be easier said than done—especially if you don’t realize how much your bad money habits are wrecking your life. But if you want to change your life, if you want to do the things you’ve always wanted to do and buy the things you’ve always wanted to buy and go to the places you’ve always wanted to go to, then you’re going to have to find that motivation to change your money habits.

I want to encourage people to make wise choices—and to build healthy habits—moving forward. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I can promise it will lead to a happier, healthier, more peaceful life—a life without all the debt, stress, and worry that so many of people are dealing with right now.

 

31 Bits: A Necklace with Purpose

600 750 Lauren Kennedy

I am so incredibly honored to be a part of this 31 Bits Campaign with the most lovely women who are designers and inspirers. I had the most memorable time creating this necklace with the most lovely team. Knowing that women in Uganda made this design come to fruition is the most empowering part of it all. See how your purchase has purpose, and scroll down to read more about this process!

bits_designersmakers-1022What is the inspiration behind your piece? I am all about anything neutral and feminine, so I kept that in mind while designing this piece. Not to mention, the fact that the women who are making this necklace are rising above poverty through the art of creativity is so inspiring! That is the best part of it all!

What inspires you? Empowered women that push through fears and pursue their passions freely. Oh! And beaches and beach towns!

What is your favorite thing about 31 Bits? I love that y’all value the creator and the consumer! It is such apicture of what defines success in a business – that people are fully cared for, encouraged creatively, and are in an atmosphere that esteems community!

What does this project mean for you? This project is so special to me and I am honored and grateful to be a part. I love learning about other women that are designers with an inspiring story. It is such a beautiful thing to celebrate!

bits_designersmakers-1004Describe your style: Laid back, neutral, and California classic (bring on the hats and oversized sweatshirts for beach nights!).

What’s next for you? I am in the process of starting a foundation to provide beautiful prostheses forwomen,expanding the vision and purpose of my blog, anticipating my twin sister having her first baby (my excitement is on another level), and preparing for the launch of our hair product, Stranded!

Where do you get your style inspiration from? Bloggers, ShopBop editorial emails, and my mom.

Fave Fall activity? Sitting by fires, cozy beach weekends, carving pumpkins, long dinners, lots of family time, and hot matcha lattes!

Tell us ALL about Stranded!! Stranded is a powdered, dry shampoo and hair perfume for saucy blondes, beautiful brunettes, and fiery redheads—all the while leaving locks freshly perfumed and viable for another day without washing. It is an all-natural product, lacking in GMO’s, gluten free, and vegan. I hope you love it as much as we do!! (Available this Fall!)

Five Things About Melissa

729 700 Melissa Mayer

five things about melissa | lolo magazine

As Lo said last week, we are so excited to become a bit more vulnerable, open, and real here are the mag and share posts that are thought-provoking, raw, and full of hope and love. Before things get really real, I wanted to share five things you probably don’t know about me. Here is a link to Lo’s 5 things post from last week- it’s such a good read!

I love to cook

When I started dating Hamilton, I did not know how to cook. I remember the third or fourth time we hung out, I told him that I wanted to make us dinner. I don’t know what caused me to say that, because as stated before, I did not know how to cook! I knew the typical basics, but pretty close to nothing. I’ll never forget what I made (chicken + sundried tomatoes with pesto over cous cous), that experience in the kitchen (I turned on music and started to create), and how much Hamilton loved the dinner. I thankfully had him stay in the other room while I cooked, because the food was great, but the process was not the prettiest. That night was a huge turning point for me. Since then, I have refined my cooking methods, cooked for us and others countless times, tried so many new things (thank you, Pinterest) and developed a major love for creativity in the kitchen. Food is such a great way to bring people together, and I am so thankful that the Lord knew I would love cooking, and used that moment (in November of 2013) to make it happen.

five things about melissa | lolo magazine

Writing poetry brings me joy

I went to St. Mary’s College in Maryland and majored in English, with a focus on creative writing my senior year. The poetry class I took that year was hands-down my favorite, but even before then I was jotting down poems whenever a thought came to mind. For some reason it comes pretty naturally to me, and for that I am so thankful. It’s one of those things that I don’t talk about a lot, but I’m not really sure why. I guess I have always seen it as a personal or private hobby, but I want to share it more, whenever possible. As of lately, it’s my personal goal to journal much more and this includes making free time to write some poetic lines.

I have recently started a toxic-free lifestyle

I am way late to this game and know that this is not new news, but for about the past five months I have been getting rid of toxic beauty and home products. Besides my Bobbi Brown bronzer, all of the products that I use now are “safe” and don’t contain the most dangerous toxins that are unfortunately common in come beauty and home-care products. Hamilton and I completely purged my apartment and his house, and replaced the items with brands like seventh generation, dr. bronner’s, mrs. myers, and I replaced makeup items with brands like w3ll people and beautycounter. I recently had an “aha” moment thanks to Hamilton (he has been living this way for a while now) and a holistic health coach from Annapolis, Maria, who spoke at our yoga studio during a special detox class. I will go into all of the details in a separate post, but basically I realized that I was causing my body so much harm by exposing it to chemicals that are in conventional products that we use everyday. 

My mom and I are super close

I am so thankful to have such a close relationship with mom! She is definitely my best friend and we talk a lot (like a lot) and live 20 minutes apart, so I see her (and my dad!) pretty regularly. My mom has such a kind, loving, and warm spirit and it is something that I always try to have and share with others. I also pray that I will be like her when I am hopefully a mom myself. I always look forward to seeing her and I can always count on her to answer my calls and texts, which is something that I definitely do not take for granted.

five things about melissa | lolo magazine

Yoga is one of my favorite things

Hamilton and I started to do yoga back in January and it has been the best nine months of my life. I can’t even think about what life was like before yoga! A big part of that is the studio we go to- Annapolis Power Yoga– and the amazing instructors there. The owner, Emily, is so great and I give her a lot of credit for my passion and love for yoga. What is so cool about her studio is that they offer the traditional yoga (Vinyasa), but they also offer cool versions that incorporate cardio and strength building, like buti yoga and XY sculpt. I think about this often when I talk to people about yoga- the three best things about it (and why I am totally hooked) is that one-yoga brings me so much joy and peace, two-it’s an amazing workout, and three- it’s a great way to get rid of toxins.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!