Moms who own their own businesses never cease to amaze me. After starting my own venture, Mamamelia, I discovered there is a whole network of hard-working mamas who string together naptimes and late nights to build careers of their own. I highlight some of these amazing women in this occasional series I call “Mompreneurs.”
With two sons, a hard-working firefighter husband and her own fulltime job at Sonshine Christian Academy, Hilliard mom Karla Milton didn’t exactly have spare time on her hands.
But late at night, when she was trying to get herself to sleep, she couldn’t keep herself from thinking about her dream business. She wanted to put her favorite poetic texts from the Bible — verses and passages that changed her own life — onto T-shirts for women. Her husband kept encouraging her to do it, but starting a business sounded too daunting.
Finally, one day, Milton prayed about it, asking God to let her know whether she should pursue the dream that kept coming back. Then she sat down and sketched out seven T-shirt designs in a matter of minutes. A business was born.
Now, as much as I value my faith, I have never been much for wearing religious T-shirts. To be honest, I usually find them pretty dorky and as far from feminine as it gets. But that was before I met Milton.
She got together with me to donate some T-shirts for Divas’ Day Out, and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous they were. These weren’t the dweeby, boxy shirts I had pictured at all. Milton’s designs come on high-quality fabrics with sleek, womanly cuts. She uses vibrant and feminine color combinations. And she has a genuine gift for finding beautiful texts in the Bible and showing them in a way that speaks to people.
“To me, the Bible is like poetry,” she told me. “I don’t use any pictures, because the words are beautiful by themselves.”
Most of her shirts feature a large word or phrase at the top, followed by smaller text that often quotes a Bible verse or reference.
For example, she donated a black T-shirt with the words “Beautiful One” in a pink, puffy text at the top. Below it was the verse, “I will praise You, for I am wonderfully and fearfully made; marvelous are your works. Pslam 139:14.”
Another shirt she donated is a soft pink color with the word “Love” on it. In the background is some of the text from 1 Corinthians 13, the beloved chapter about love that is so often quoted during weddings. (My own wedding included!)
Milton specializes in women’s shirts, but she also designs shirts for men and kids and makes tote bags. Her son even designed one shirt, which says, “Giant Slayer. 1 stone, 1 God.” It refers to the Bible story of David, a young boy who used a single stone to kill a giant with God’s help.
One of my favorites is a bright blue shirt that simply says, “Faith” in bright pink letters at the top. The verse that follows reads, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed. Matthew 9:21″
That verse refers to the story of a woman who impressed Jesus with her unwavering faith when she fought through crowds just to touch the hem of his clothing, certain that even that much of a connection to Him would heal her… and, by the way, it did.
Milton said Bible stories like that impacted her profoundly and helped her become who she is, a huge change from the person she was before she became a Christian. Her business is her way to share those experiences with other women.
“These are so much more than just T-shirts to me,” she told me.
Milton’s not the only one that feels that way. When she displays her shirts at special events, some of the people who visit her booth are moved to tears as they browse.
Milton said that is her favorite part of the business, so much so that she hesitates to branch out to selling the shirts for larger franchises or on the Internet.
To her, interacting with her buyers is one of the most important parts of selling her shirts. She cherishes the stories they share about how each verse has changed their lives, too.
“This isn’t about making money for me,” she said. “This is my ministry.”
Milton’s dream is to offer her shirts to women and girls in crisis centers and rehabilitation facilities as a gift of hope. She can’t take on that expense alone at this point, so she is welcoming sponsors to make a tax-deductible donation. If you’re interested in helping, email Milton at email@example.com.
If you want to know more:
Cost: As of this writing, Conversation Salvation’s T-shirts cost $15 each and range from juniors sizes to women’s sizes. Milton also makes some men’s and children’s shirts and tote bags.
Online: You can find Conversation Salvation on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/conversation.salvation
Contact: You can reach Milton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org