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Creating Routines and Habits to Help Grow Your Faith with Brenna Milleville – Episode 07

If you’ve ever struggled with creating sustainable routines, combatting perfectionism, and setting boundaries in an effort to make time for your faith on a daily basis, this episode is for you. Join Jordan as she interviews Brenna Milleville, owner and designer of Elly & Grace, a faith-based apparel company, as she shares how her routines and setting boundaries help her to grow in her faith, her family, and her business.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Creating habits and routines that help you in your faith and family life
  • Balancing entrepreneurship + motherhood
  • Setting boundaries in your life
  • Outsourcing and hiring the right team

Find it quickly:

  • 5:12 – Finding the time and staying consistent with Bible study
  • 7:50 – Fighting perfectionism to allow for learning
  • 10:31 – How routines help with balancing entrepreneurship + motherhood
  • 17:31 – Setting boundaries in our schedule
  • 19:15 – Knowing how you work and focusing on your zone of genius
  • 25:52 – Hiring a team
  • 28:05 – Setting boundaries around Instagram
  • 33:54 – Bible translations and Brenna’s Hot Take
  • 37:26 – Things that stop people from growing in their faith and business
  • 40:41 – Serving people well
  • 44:51 – Rapid Fire Round

Resources mentioned:

So without further ado, let’s dive into the chat! You can listen to the full episode with the player below or continue scrolling for a full transcript.

Jordan: Hi, Brenna, welcome to the podcast. 

Brenna: Thank you so much for having me, Jordan. I’m so excited.

Jordan: I am so excited for this convo and to tell everyone about you. But before we start, can you just share a little bit about yourself in your own words? 

Brenna: So I’m Brenna. I am the owner and designer of Elly and Grace. I’ve been married for almost 10 years in June, and I have a three-year-old named Grace and I primarily do all of the Instagram stuff for us. I also do all the designing and I’m an introvert.

Jordan: I love that you’re an introvert because I will say of anyone I know that runs businesses and shows up online, you are one of the most consistent in how you show up and how you serve and how you share your life. And so it always amazes me that you’re an introvert. 

Brenna: I’m so much more comfortable, I think talking to people on a screen. I feel like it’s a little safer. I joined a mom’s group a few years ago in our community knowing no one, which was like shocking to me. It was a total God thing. Now I have a lot of good friends from it, but I don’t think I said a word the entire first semester at the table because I was so uncomfortable. They didn’t even know Elly and Grace existed for an entire year.

Jordan: Oh my gosh. What’s amazing of how you show up too is you’re showing up on your business Instagram. You are, I mean, Elly and Grace is, if anyone doesn’t know you guys already, an amazing, clothing and accessories shop, and you have books coming out. I dunno if you want to share a tiny bit real fast too, of what Elly and Grace is if people haven’t heard of it yet, 

Brenna: We do a lot of things, we do Christian apparel, we do embroidery kits. We’re getting ready to come out with a set of children’s books. We’re getting ready to come out with candles. We’re do things for Christians, primarily to help you share your faith with others, and also to encourage you as yourself in your faith.

Jordan: What’s so cool is, it started in your basement and to see you not just grow the business, but now expand into a children’s books. I mean, I’ve seen the process behind the scenes of you creating the the dolls to go with it and the stories, and so I’m so excited for you to share a little bit more of that with everyone because you’ve had such an evolution of this side hustle in your basement to this amazing business.

Routines for finding time for your faith

Jordan: Let’s start kind of just with your routines and your own habits, because I think that’s something you talk a lot about online and, you know, you and I are both really passionate about, and as you mentioned in your intro, You’re not just a business owner, you’re a wife and you’re a mom of a three year old, which I know how busy that could be. So how do you find time for your own Bible study and are there any routines or habits that have helped you personally stay consistent in spending time in the word? 

Brenna: So I am really a routine person so I naturally gravitate towards that.

So when I get up in the morning, I like to get up before Grace, and luckily for me, she’s kind of a sleeper in, so she sleeps in until like 7, 7:30, so I can get that time in if I get up at six. I’m not having to get up at like four or five,  because I don’t think I would be able to do that. I’d probably have to adjust my routine and then I always get my drink.

Sometimes it’s a protein shake, sometimes it’s a chai tea latte, which is my favorite (because I don’t like coffee) and I have all my stuff in a basket and I just keep it at our kitchen table and I just get out the basket.

I have all my stuff ready. I have it bookmarked, I know what I’m doing, and then I just dive right into it. I’m in James right now and I’m almost done with it and it’s been very good. So it’s just having that expectation that I’m going to get up, I’m going to brush my teeth, put on my clothes, walk out to the dining room, get my Bible basket, and go through.

And that’s just kind of what I do every day. And if I don’t do it, it just kind of, I don’t want to say it wrecks my day, but it makes my day more challenging. I’ll just say that.

Jordan: I love the idea of the Bible basket. I don’t think I had ever seen that. I feel like now I see it everywhere because that’s how algorithms work. I started seeing you share your Bible basket and you also are, I feel like, The Bible journaler. Not to generalize, but you have the highlighters and I never had done any of that. I just had my Kairos journal and my Bible and now I have a printed-out bible in the year sheet because of the plan I’m doing. But I feel like that is such a great way to stay consistent. By having something that’s so easy to grab. 

I’ve seen people do it even with their kids, as their kids get older. As we’ve been looking into some potential homeschool routines in the future, having quiet time baskets for their kids. And I was like, “thats it” because I love the organization part of it so it’s not cluttered. Everything you have is right there. 

I think that’s such a good thing to remember with any habit or discipline that we’re trying to stay consistent in, is how can we make it really easy on ourselves, right? How can we make the habit something that you see it and you grab it and you know, it’s not a hard thing to implement. 

Letting Go of Perfectionism 

Brenna: Yes, and I am kind of a perfectionist, but I’ve had to let go of that a little bit with my Bible journaling because there are definitely things you can do. Sometimes I’ll get questions on Instagram. What’s the way that you highlight, are certain things highlighted with certain things? And I’m like, no, because I would be the person that would be like, oh. This is a name. Oh no. I highlighted it in orange instead of blue, and now my Bible’s ruined and I have to throw it away, so I can’t do that. 

My strategy is to choose two or three colors per book, and I just kinda alternate them and also like, yes, I can kind of see through the page with the pen I use. But it’s my favorite pen to write with and it brings me joy to write with it. It’s the flare pens. I like the thicker pen to write with, so I just have to let that go. 

But yes, I get questions about the highlighting all the time and I’m like, no, I can’t have like six different highlighters. Some people can do that, but I just, that would drive me crazy. I’d be more focused on the system than what I’m learning, which I think defeats the purpose.

Jordan: You know it’s funny you said that because I was just thinking it’s so easy for us to turn any routine or habit into this to-do or checklist or process instead of keeping the heart of why we’re doing it. Especially when it comes to Bible reading. I know I’ve had seasons of my life where it’s like I just need to check it off my list to get today’s plan done. But then you’re not really approaching it from a heart of worship or spending that time with God. 

There are days that I spend five minutes before my kids wake up. It’s just as powerful as the hour days that I have. And I think a lot of that is your heart and intention behind it of just, Lord, I want to know you better. I want to spend time with you. And it’s so easy because I’m a perfectionist too, to think about the process or how we do it. Like there is a right or wrong way to read the Bible and if you don’t do it this way, then it doesn’t matter or it’s wrong. 

Brenna: Yes, you’re absolutely right that I’ve definitely found that to be true as well.

Jordan: Yeah. And it’s funny because I never journaled the Bible until we had the Kairos Journal. So now I’m in the “Bible journaling world”, and there are people that have very complicated (to me) routines of how they highlight and design and draw in their Bible. I think it’s, a cool personal thing that people do and just reflect on what God’s saying to you and revealing to you through the Bible. 

I think we can overcomplicate anything that we do, whether it’s Bible reading or our own habits in our lives. 

Brenna: Yes, Yes,

Balancing Entrepreneurship and Motherhood

Jordan:  speaking of routines and habits, how have any of the routines that you have in your life, because you said you love routines, helped you in balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood, and is there any advice that you’d have for someone who might be struggling to create routines or isn’t as routine happy as you and I are.

Brenna: Well, I think it, there’s always an ebb and flow. Sometimes I’d need to work when Grace was home, and so I was trying to get her to do other things and then I’d be mad at her because she was needing me when I was working, which isn’t really the mindset that I want to be having.

So now it’s, when I’m at work, I’m at work, and when I’m not at work, I’m not at work. And there are occasionally times when she has to watch some TV like yesterday. I had to cut like a thousand squares of fabric yesterday for embroidery kits. So I was like, I just need you to go watch TV just for a little bit and then I’ll play with you. 

I think that starting small in routines is a good way to do it and build it up over time. I love the Lazy Genius Podcast. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to her.

Jordan: Yeah. 

Starting Small with Building Routines 

Brenna: Obsession. So starting small with something, because if you try to say, okay, so I want to have a morning routine, so tomorrow I’m going to wake up at 5:00 AM and I’m going to do 15 minutes of bible time, then I’m going to do a workout, then I’m going to have like a green smoothie, and you have like, you go from zero to a hundred, you’re not going to be able to sustain that.

Instead, saying, tomorrow I’m just going to wake up 10 minutes earlier and I’m going to try this, or I might stay up 10 minutes later and I’m going to do this. So even with things around the house, like Monday, I wash all the sheets. That’s just the day.

It’s my smoothies and sheets. That’s what I do. I also, honestly, try not to work on Mondays because I just, that’s kind of my day to get the house back in order in my house day, and then I can not feel bad. When you’re working at home and your kid is having quiet time, what do you do during that time?

Do you work or do you do house things because they both need to be done? So I found that doing the house things first on Monday helps me feel more motivated to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I have full childcare on Thursdays and Fridays usually. That’s kind of what I do with that.

Jordan: It’s a good point. I think even habit stacking, as you’re saying, starts with one thing, and then as that becomes a habit, then you can add to it or you might wake up 30 minutes earlier instead of 15 minutes. I think it’s funny you said 7:00-7:30 is sleeping in because that’s pretty much when my kids wake up and I feel like they wake up early because Ellie used to sleep in until 8:30 when it was just her.

I used to get so much work done, maybe two hours of work or, an hour of Bible time, an hour of work before she even woke up. But it’s true. Now that my youngest is sleeping through the night fairly consistently. I’ve started waking up, like actually setting an alarm and waking up early. And to me, I actually just started setting it at six 30 or 6 45 cause I’m like, all right, half an hour before they wake up is enough right now. There’s part of me that’s like, if I got up at 5:30, I could go to the gym, I could work out, I could do so much, but I’m not just going to go from no alarm to 5:30 every day because I will hate it and I will not stay consistent. 

Reframing your mindset

Brenna: Yes. And I feel like you and I are both a little similar in that sometimes I think that if we have the choice of two options, we’re going to choose the work option. So trying to be able to reframe our brains to be like, no, it’s okay. I can do these other things. I found that doing that consistently over the past, I’d say six months, I’ve really been like trying to focus on that, has really helped my mental focus to kind of calm down and restructure my brain a little bit.

Jordan: That’s so good, because I am totally that person where, especially when it was just Ellie, I was doing the nap time warrior thing and I could just work when she napped and it was great. Now I have three kids that conspire to never nap at the same time, and so when I do get quiet time, I feel like I need to be productive or if I have time to myself where I have help, it feels like, if I didn’t get my quiet time in the morning, well, I can’t just use that during nap because I have to work. Even doing the dishes –  that’s not productive enough for me,

I have struggled so much, not just as an entrepreneur, but especially becoming a mom and really taking care of my home and my children – realizing that there are things that don’t necessarily feel productive but are still really important. That quiet time, the time I spent with the Lord is the most important thing I could do all day. And even this morning, Pete usually has a sunrise skinning Bible study. So if you don’t live in the mountains, they hike up the mountain before the lifts are open, and then ski or snowboard down, and then have Bible. So Thursdays, I usually have to get all three kids ready for two different drop-offs in the morning by 8:30. It’s kind of chaotic. He didn’t have it this morning, so he took both girls.

I had 30 minutes that I actually just cleaned up and vacuumed and did all the dishes and put the rest of the dishes away and wiped my counters and those 30 minutes were so life-giving to me because now I feel like I’ve taken care of my home. I’ve stewarded that time well, and now I can get to work in a really focused, clean environment.

And so I just say that because to, me, something that has helped to actually give value or prioritize something like taking care of your home, taking care of your family, taking care of yourself has been. As you mentioned, separating the two for, for me, that’s helped because when you are just mom or just you know, as you needed her to do something so you could, you know, just focus on work.

I have a really hard time when I’m trying to do all the things at once and so having really set boundaries on my work hours has given me the freedom to prioritize other things when it’s not. I think when we work for ourselves it’s so easy to let work slip into every time that we have free. And then I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t meal planning. All these things that still are valuable but not as, “productive” in terms of work. By scaling back, simplifying my work, and setting really clear boundaries, any extra work I do is a bonus, but it gave me the freedom to do my sheets or whatever that might be. 

Boundaries in our Schedules

Jordan: I think Dave Ramsey talks about it, how having a budget gives you the freedom to spend your money the way you want to. I think having like a time budget, if you will, or boundaries in our schedule as moms and entrepreneurs has given me the freedom to then spend my time in other ways.

Brenna: Yes, I totally agree with you. I am so much more productive in a clean space. So like a priority for me. Is making sure my home is picked up. So if you come over unannounced, my house is probably going to be picked up because that’s just how I like to live. Now, meal planning, I am a hundred percent fine doing a grocery pickup order every single day to get meals for that night because that’s not a priority for me. 

But the house will be picked and the laundry will be done. Those are just my things. My husband puts our daughter down to bed, which is wonderful because I am not a night person. So while he’s giving her her bath and everything, I usually set the timer, I’ll put on a podcast or some worship music and I’ll just pick anything that needs to be done in the house and I’m doing it right then. So then when we get ready to relax for the evening, the house is picked up and then it’s still picked up the following morning. Then when I get up to do the Bible study, I’m not like, oh. Well, I really need to read the Bible, but also the island is completely full of clutter and there’s like popcorn bowl from last night and all the towels like, or all the blankets aren’t folded, and this is going to drive me crazy, so I try to click it up the night before.

That way in the morning I can just fully focus on my time with Jesus.

Knowing How You Work and Your Zone Of Genius

Jordan: And that to that point, it’s knowing how you work and what’s important and how your brain works too. For the meal planning thing, you might rather do it and someone might rather have someone clean their house once a week and they not worry about it. I think as Christians it’s important to think about how we steward our time and as entrepreneurs, especially when you’re outsourcing or hiring things, what is the best use of your time that’s going to serve your people well. I know entrepreneurs that every lunch they order, like pre-made lunches or something like that, because they won’t cook. That hour is better spent in their business making money doing something than making a healthy meal. I think it’s important to think in any aspect of our life, there’s either a time cost or a financial cos,t or attention cost, and to know what really matters and how you can prioritize that.

Brenna: Yeah, I agree. Sometimes it’s also challenging because there are definitely things that you would be better suited doing other things, but sometimes you just like to do it. So I could have someone cook for me, and that’d probably be more productive, but I really enjoy the art of cooking or baking.

So giving myself sometimes the opportunity to do those types of things kind of just can help relax your brain and if you’re doing that maybe monotonous work that you don’t necessarily feel is the best use of your time. It’s still nice to do it a little bit because then your brain can just reset. It’s kind of like whenever you get in the shower and you have the greatest idea ever.

I’ve gotten so many good ideas from doing random things. Counting envelopes or doing sticker packs or all sorts of just random things. I like to have a little bit of variety. I also worked in production with our company until Grace arrived and so I don’t have 40 hours a week anymore, I only have really 14. If they need me, I will do it, but I usually like to spend my time doing the things that only I can do. I guess the zone of genius, whoever came up with it.

Outsourcing and Hiring a Team

Jordan: You’ve been making these embroidery kits now, and there are little things that you probably could outsource or have someone on your team help do.

And it’s cool to see your hands in different areas of it. But also you have grown a team and as we mentioned earlier, you started this with a full-time job in your basement, and now you’ve grown that. You own a warehouse, you have a team, and a lot of folks struggle – I know I do – with hiring or outsourcing, knowing what they should focus on in their business and what to get help with. To grow like you have, you’ve had to do that. So how have you decided, what you should focus on in your work and how have you figured out, what is your zone of genius and what’s the best steward of your time, and then hiring or outsourcing for everything else?

Brenna: So a lot of credit for this really goes to my husband because when we were in the basement, we were working seven days a week, eight hours a day. And I was like, this is fine, I can do this. No big deal. We didn’t have kids yet. Who cares? I can spend all my time doing this. And he was like, no, we need to leave. We need to move out of the basement. 

And I was like, but my whole dream was to work from home and now you’re going to ask me to drive like 10 miles away. I can’t do that. And he said, no, it wasn’t sustainable, but I don’t really like change, so I was like, no, keep me in the basement.

But we moved to space and we moved a few times, but now, especially because of Grace, I only have so much time. So my general things are to do the things that only I can do. Or only I choose to do, I guess. So I do all of the designing. I didn’t use to do all the pictures. We used to have someone, we’d have like photoshoot days, we’d bring all the stuff and someone else take the pictures and I’d style them.

But all of her kids were elementary school age, so when all the schools shut down, she couldn’t come to the office anymore. So then I had to learn how to take all the pictures, and I take them all in our basement now. So I guess technically I’m still working in the basement some days a week because I take the pictures in the basement.

We’ve moved, but it’s still in the basement. And then I like to be the one that does Instagram, so I do that. I guess I would say kind of an ego thing because whenever you start a business, you’re like, “Nobody can do this thing that I’ve created better than me.” Like this is my child. No one’s going to be better at this, than me. 

What we try to do is hire people that are better. Then I can be like, yeah, you’re better at doing that. You’re doing a good job. And I can work on what I’m the best at, which is designing and the more creative stuff.

Or like my husband does all of the financial stuff. That’s not my zone of genius. So just finding people and then letting them do their thing without being too over the top on them and constantly watching them. If you’re spending all your time watching them and micromanaging them, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be.

Jordan: I think what we’ve learned is some of that comes down to hiring for personality over skills. Sometimes, yes, I want someone to be better than me, but like the person that we have who runs all of our customer service for Daily Kairos – shout out to Renee – she is a dream and amazing, and I, for so long was in that support role because Pete was running the business and I could do it, emails and this and that, and I had such a fear of like, well, no one’s going to write an email and serve our customers as good as I do. Right? She hadn’t necessarily had that experience, but she had a heart for loving people and serving them.

And she does it a billion times better than I could do, and it takes so much time and weight off of me that she could handle that and own it. But a lot of that was the personality. She wanted to love and serve people and she just did something and like asked questions if she needed help, but I didn’t need to check in everyday and delegate and do this and that.

That has been huge and I think that’s been a really hard thing for us to hire for because that’s how I am as a worker. When I was, you know, working in the startup world or in corporate America, I would just run with something and I didn’t really need a lot of oversight and delegation, and so I almost don’t know how to delegate or oversee. I need someone to just run with it and own it and take responsibility, and then come to me when they need help. I don’t know if you’ve had that experience of like that, that personality part of a team and the culture fit and getting on mission with someone, especially in our businesses, has been almost more important, I think, than the initial skill. 

Brenna: Yes, I agree. It’s better to have someone that because skill, most skills can be taught, but changing someone’s personality and their goals and their values is extremely hard. I don’t know if anyone could change those things about me, so I don’t think I could change those things about someone else.

Setting Boundaries with Instagram

Jordan: You mentioned that one of the things that you still have ownership of is Instagram. We mentioned this before a little bit too, but you share a lot, not just of your business, but a lot of your own personal life and journey on the Elly and Grace Instagram. There are plenty of people that kind of keep things separate, their work and life, or they struggle with how to integrate their own life into their brand or their business. You integrate it so well that it not just highlights your business, it shows off your life. The two, I think, complement each other really well, right? Like Elly and Grace is focused on glorifying God and encouraging people. Sharing that with others and your Bible time and your routine and your Bible basket. It just merges so well together. What made you decide to keep that Elly and Grace brand really personal online? And how do you continue to stay consistent in showing up? 

Brenna: I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last couple of months because sometimes I’m like, gosh, it would be so much easier to only post about business stuff. It’s not like I’m thinking, okay, today I’m going to post about this, this, this, and this. It’s just kind of whatever happens and the day. I’ve ultimately decided, I just enjoy it. And I have friends that I’ve made on Instagram and I don’t have a personal Instagram, so I don’t really do a lot on personal social media. So it’s kind of both of them, but it’s just kind of fun and I found that I like following people that have that side.

I don’t enjoy following people that only post about their products as much as I enjoy the people that post about their lives because I like to get to know them as people. So for that reason, I feel like sometimes when we use Instagram, if we like using Instagram, we want to do what we like to see, so, That’s one of the reasons I like to do that.

Plus it’s fun. I just have crazy conversations with people sometimes. Like yesterday I posted about how I’m thinking about going ahead and planting my flowers because they’re putting them out at the local nurseries and I’m so tempted and people are like, it’s fine, you can do it. The pansies can survive cold weather.

I did not know that. I thought for sure I would kill them if there was a frost again. So I’m learning, they’re teaching me all sorts of new things or like we are getting ready to potty train Grace. I got lots of feedback. 

The only thing that I’ve kind of changed in the past few years, I would say is I don’t show Grace’s face very often because she actually got recognized in person 

If somebody recognizes me, that happens, I don’t care. But for her to be recognized, that’s not really her choice. So I just felt a little weird about it. So now if I show her it’s her side or the back of her head, or I’ll put the caption right over her face,

Also, my husband doesn’t want to be on social media at all. I’ll get questions and they’ll be like, are you married? And I’m like, he just doesn’t want to be on social media. He doesn’t want me to post about him. I did it once. I put an emoji on his face and he saw it and he was like, no.

Jordan: I now recognize that I don’t see Grace’s face or I don’t see your husband. But until you said that, I wouldn’t have thought that there are things that you’re holding back because it feels like you get super personal and raw and your everyday life, and hey, bible time, it doesn’t need to look quiet.

I resonate with those posts all the time. but I think this is a good reminder to people, if you’re struggling with, oh, I don’t want to share my personal life, you can have boundaries and filters on that, right? You can still have your brand feel personal without sharing every struggle, every highlight, and every piece of your day.

You can still curate and set boundaries that feel good and important to you, and that can change. Like you said, you don’t show Grace’s face anymore. but you’re right that I too agree that I gravitate towards buying from companies or working with people when I feel like I know them, and when I feel like that I know their story, I know their heart, I know their why. We have that opportunity, I think, to build connections in that way. It doesn’t have to feel like a burden. 

At least for me, when I try to create a strategy behind my personal life on Instagram then it becomes work 

Brenna: Sometimes you’ll get the craziest questions, like someone actually, you’ll love this. Someone messaged me the other day, they want to know if I went to church because I don’t post about it on Instagram. 

And I was like, yes. But I feel there are some people that like to take videos during service. I just feel weird about that. So I usually don’t bring my phone in, so I don’t have any proof. I’m sorry, but I’m there. It was bizarre. So there are lots of interesting people on the Internet.

Bible Translations and Brenna’s Hot Take

Jordan:  I’m sure you’ve gotten this because you share so much of your Bible study, people questioning, what translation are you using? Like the translation Police. But I don’t, I don’t take pictures in church either. I like to be present when worship and the only time I have really taken photos is when Pete is preaching. Recently he’s started preaching at our church now. 

And I’m like little proud wife, but I feel really weird taking a picture of you during church.

Brenna: Yeah, I know. I understand that. It’s weird. 

Yes, I do get translation hate, and it doesn’t bother me. The only thing that kind of annoys me is when it’s on a video and someone’s commenting on it because I don’t want someone else who’s a new Christian to see it and be like, oh. I don’t understand the Bible because I’m reading this translation, what’s wrong with me?

And I don’t want them to feel like they’re not a good enough Christian because they’re choosing to read something other than the KJV or whatever translation. Usually, it’s that one though, that the people that are on there and are mad want them to be reading. I just don’t want them to have that bad feeling. So I usually will fight back at them. 

Jordan: Yeah. We get that question all the time for the Kairos Journal. There are no Bible verses in the Kairos Journal. It’s meant to let you compliment your own Bible and your own Bible reading. But people are very adamant about specific translations and verses. I love that you said that, Brenna, because as someone who didn’t become a Christian until my twenties, I’ve read a lot of different versions and devotionals and you know, I have thoughts on them now, but as a new Christian, I kind of needed to start where I started and as I matured in my faith, as I understood the differences in translations and, you know, word for word or thought for thought, that has been part of my faith journey of growing deeper in my faith and maturing as a Christian.  It’s so easy to, not scare people off, but like overwhelm people by thinking that there’s a right way to read the Bible and spend time with God. 

Brenna: Yes, I’ve definitely noticed that a lot. Instead of being as like, yes, you’re reading the Bible, it’s great. That’s ultimately what we all want Christians to do is read the Bible. It reminds me of The Chosen in season two where Jesus heals the man at the pool and instead of being like, “Oh my gosh, you’re healed. This is amazing!” The Pharisees are like, “Well, it’s the Sabbath, so why would you do such a terrible thing?” They give me Pharisee vibes. This is my hot take. You might want to remove this Jordan

Jordan: No, I love it. Let’s do it, it’s great. It’s, you know what though? It’s true. I mean, we read the Bible of the Pharisees and we’re like, man, we would never do that. Right? Like, Jesus called them out. It’s easy as more mature Christians or someone that’s been a Christian now for a little bit longer to read my Bible and get this holier than thou, oh, we should do it this way or that way. It’s hard because I think that there’s merit and value to someone’s heart of like, okay, I want someone to really know the Bible well. For instance, KJV translation. If there are things closer to the original word for word, I understand why people want you to really know as close to the original I could get, but I think that we can have good hearts with that. I think where it becomes kind of like the Pharisees is that we can overcomplicate it and trip people up with all these rules and regulations and it takes away from the heart of just spending time with God and being in his word. And at the end of the day, we can help people in that process. But you’re right. What’s most important is people just open up their Bibles and spend time with God.

Brenna: Yes, I’m passionate about this. See, I’m getting fired out. My face is getting red.

Things that stop people from growing in their faith and business

Jordan: For anyone that can’t see it, she’s really fired up. There are so many things that stop people from growing in their faith because of all these rules. I think similarly, there’s a lot that stops people in their business and those goals of running it or starting it. 

We talked about you starting this business in your basement, but there are a lot of people that don’t even start something because they think that they don’t know how. They think the market is saturated. They think that they’re not an expert or they’re not ready, and you’ve done a really great job at establishing a brand in a huge market. I mean, the Christian apparel market is not something that’s new. There are a lot of people that do it on Etsy. There are big brands that do it. There are people that have copied and stolen your designs that try to do it. A lot of people stop themselves though. They see that and they’re like, oh, well there’s no room for me, or, I’m not an expert. I’m not ready. 

Why do you think that you were able to push past all of that and actually start it? what do you think sets Elly and Grace apart and something that can feel like a really saturated market? 

Brenna: So we’ve been around for seven years, so we did get our start a little bit sooner, which was really nice. When I Googled Christian t-shirts, when I started, I didn’t see anything that I liked so clearly God was shielding me from Google because I was like, oh, nobody’s really doing this.

That wasn’t true. There were definitely other people that were doing it back then. Not as many as there are now, but they definitely existed, but I didn’t see them and I know how to Google things, so it was definitely hidden from me. I like to have more of a personal side to the brand. I think that does help to show the behind-the-scenes. 

Whenever I write the Grace Club letters, I talk about my heart behind the design. I try to make it more personal and I’m not just going on Etsy and being like, oh, this SVG is popular. I’m going to buy that and stick it on a shirt and see what sticks. And I also just have things that I don’t make designs for. We don’t use a lot of Easter bunnies and Easter eggs in our Easter designs. For me personally, it just feels kind of weird. We don’t do Santa designs for Christmas because that just feels a little weird to me personally. So just trying to stand out by doing that.

I also take all my own pictures, so it’s not like I’m not getting just a blank picture off of the internet and putting my design on it. It’s mine, so then I know that it’s not going to look like anyone else’s because I physically took it. Not to say our pictures haven’t been stolen before, but in general, they’re all mine.

I just try to make it a little bit more personal and everything is created by me. So it’s all kind of consistent just because it’s all stuff that I like.

Serving People Well

Jordan: And you do a great job too, of showing the process on social media, like your design process, and asking for feedback. I think that’s a really cool thing too – bringing your customers along in the journey and making them feel like a part of it. One thing that’s always stood out is you have a very wide range of sizes and people you serve, and I think that’s always been something that has set Elly and Grace apart too. 

Brenna: Sometimes the team will bring me stuff and they’ll be like, Hey, what do you think about this new style? And I’m like, well, I really like it, but it only goes from ladies extra small to ladies large, which really isn’t that big because ladies’ sizes are about a size to a size and a half smaller than regular sizes.So we’re really only talking about a medium. 

I don’t want someone to come to our website and be like “They don’t have my size, or they don’t even have close to my size and that’s a bad feeling”. I don’t want people to feel like that. So we do try to be as size inclusive as possible.

We recently thought about switching to a different Raglin, but our ones right now go up to three xl, and this one only goes up to two xl. And I was like, no. We can’t do that because I asked the person who orders our shirts and she said we get a lot of three XL orders. I’m not going to just take this whole group of people and be like, I’m sorry I’m not making things for you anymore.

Jordan: That’s a good thing to remember too of like you can, there are little things – and that’s not necessarily a little thing – but there are things that you can do that don’t feel like huge ‘make or break’ decisions when we’re thinking about launching and scaling businesses. But they serve people better or they serve people in a different way that lets you stand out and lets you love people.

I think as a Christian business especially, something as simple as you thinking of everyone to include size-wise and not wanting to exclude people there, like you’re getting to love on more people and then they’re getting to share their faith with more people because the nature of your business is wearing Christian apparel. So I just think there are little things like that in how we make decisions as business owners that whether it’s a Christian business or not can have a big impact on how we’re serving people.

Brenna: My husband said to me like a year ago, it was unrelated, but I think it still applies that if you’re trying to make a decision and it’s a really big deal to someone else, but it’s not a big deal to you, and you’re like, should I do it or not? You should go ahead and do it if it’s a big deal to them and it’s something you can do that’s small or something that doesn’t make as big of a difference, you can go either way, then you should do it because it’ll better serve them.

Jordan: Oh, that’s really good. We can have your husband on the podcast! That was really good advice too, 

It’s a great thing to remember for anyone in any type of business – it’s about serving people, right? I think at least how I’ve approached business because we’ve had businesses that, you know, Daily Kairos is Christian in nature and it’s serving Christians, but we’ve had marketing businesses that aren’t. But no matter what kind of business we’ve had, the loving people part of it hasn’t changed. 

I think if we’re in business to love people and serve them well, and that’s guiding our decisions, whether it’s a Christian business or not, as Christians, that’s a really great way to be in business and make decisions. I love that thought from your husband on even something simple to you like. People over profit in that way sometimes too. Thinking beyond your own needs in a business of what is going to serve people really well or how can you do something differently to love on them. Oh, so good. Okay. So, let’s wrap up with some rapid-fire questions here. 

What is bringing you joy right now? 

Brenna: So, not to be cheesy, but Grace is honestly bringing me so much joy because she’s three in like a few months, so she’s like 3.25 and she’s just hilarious. She just does hilarious things. She goes to gymnastics and when we’re there during the warmup, she just acts like she doesn’t know what’s going on, and then we’ll get home and she’ll do the whole thing from memory. I keep trying to video it to send to them to be like, no, she really does know, but it’s just funny. 

I’ve been having a lot of fun embroidering and I’m also obsessed with Survivor the TV show. Yes, it is still on and I love it. It’s my favorite show. Anyone can DM me about Survivor anytime, and I will respond

Jordan: I’ll have to tell my mom and my sister, they are obsessed with Survivor as well. And it’s funny, Kota, as a side note, I put her in a onesie the other day that is from Ellie that my mom got her. So it’s four years old. And I sent the picture to my mom. She goes, you know, I got that at Elly and Grace, right? And I was like, oh, what a full circle moment. 

Brenna: Yes, I saw that. I saw that. Yep!

Jordan: It is awesome – but I’ll have to have her message you because she loves Survivor. Three-year-olds are so fun in how, I mean, they’re just hilarious personalities and like, oh, I love it. It’s a really fun stage. 

What is a favorite book that you’ve read recently? 

Brenna: So I have one I just started and it’s already really good, and the other one I finished. But if you like fiction books and you liked the serial podcast, like Murdery type of stuff. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is really good. It was very interesting.

It sounds like it would be cheesy. It’s not. It’s a trilogy. I read the second one. The second one was a little bit darker and I haven’t read the third one yet, but the first was really good. And then I just started reading A Still And Quiet Mind by Esther Smith. She was interviewed on The Daily Grace Co podcast, I think a few weeks ago.

It was all about trying to control your mind and your negative thoughts and intrusive thoughts, but more from a holistic perspective instead of just being like, oh, just focus more on this. It was more in-depth. I really enjoyed her interview so I got her book and I just read the intro this morning and that’s been really good.

Jordan: Mm. Very different books, but you’re like my mind. I’ll have a murder mystery and a business growth book, a parenting book, and a fiction book, all at the same time. It’s pending what moods you’re in 

Brenna: Exactly because you can like binge read a murder book, but you can’t really binge read a book about business or more practical application because your brain, at least my brain needs time to like remember those things and let it soak in. So Yes. you can name this pod, this episode, Binge Read Murder.

Jordan: Okay. All right. We’ll bring it to something a little more Christian here. What is a verse that you’re meditating on or one that has been encouraging you lately? 

Brenna: Okay, so speaking of routines, I do this every morning and every night. Every night when I get in bed after I plugged in my phone and I’m in bed with my eyes closed, I say to myself, 1 Peter 5:7, or I do an iteration on it. So that is cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.

Actually, I have a sticker that I just made that just came in today. I either say that verse or I just pray and I’m like, thank you, God, that you let us cast all your cares on you so that I can go to sleep and not worry about it anymore. So that’s kind of my evening thing. And then in the morning, I say Lamentations 3:22-23, which is, His mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, essentially. When I wake up, before I even open my eyes, thank you, God, that your mercies are new every single morning and your faithfulness is so great. So those are my kind of go-to’s right now. 

Jordan: That’s a great reminder to people too, of how our prayers, like memorizing scripture or reading your Bible, He gives us prayers in that, right? We can pray His word back to Him and declare those promises and our trust in Him. And I think that’s a really beautiful way of remembering. I’m going to have to steal that, or maybe I’ll buy your sticker. We’ll link to the sticker in the show notes. A lot of times the Bible, these verses that we’re reading, give us the words to speak and the prayers to say back to God. And so I think that’s a beautiful way of just remembering how simple it can be to pray

Okay. Where can everyone find you? Brenna and Elly and Grace. 

Brenna: So I’m at Elly and Grace on Instagram. That’s the primary place that I am at. We also are on Facebook at Elly and Grace, and we have the Elly and Grace VIP group on Facebook as well, which is a private group where we can do prayer requests and show you sneak peeks and all the good things. Also, I guess we’re on TikTok at Elly and Grace Official because I didn’t sign up soon enough to get my actual username.

So I’m at Elly and Grace.

Jordan: That’s funny. And it’s e l l y for anyone that is on here because she loves elephants. I learned that on another podcast that you were on or something that you shared on Instagram. I will link to all of your links in the show notes and on the podcast descriptions. 

Thank you so much for taking that time, Brenna, to just share your heart and your wisdom, and your experience, and I can’t wait for everyone to get this episode. 

Brenna: Thanks for having me, Jordan. This was so fun—the best afternoon.

Connect with Brenna:
Instagram: @ellyandgrace
Website: ellyandgrace.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ellyandgrace
TikTok: ellyandgraceofficial

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Work + Worship podcast! Be sure to subscribe on your podcast listener to be notified as soon as each new episode drops 🙂

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God bless,

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