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Blaze A Trail – And Take Others With You With Tonie Christine

Her name is Tonie Christine and her smile lights up the room. She is a photographer, entrepreneur and she loves talking about how she uses the gifts and talents she’s been uniquely given. Don’t miss her new clothing line -Blaze Kids Wear and make sure you use Purpose20 for 20% off your next order.

Special thanks to Northwest University for sponsoring the Passion Meets Purpose Podcast!

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Tonie Christine: There is no wrong turn with the Lord. So, it’s not like you take this sharp right turn and suddenly you’re in the wrong place. God says, Hey, that wasn’t the one I had for you, but just veer right on back. It’s like a winding path. It’s not a series of left and right. He’s gonna be right there with you. So, the question is why are you pushing down those ideas that God’s putting on your heart?

Sarah Taylor: Her name is Tonie Christine, and her smile lights up the room. I’m so excited to introduce her to you on this episode of the Passion Meets Purpose podcast, which is all about the gifts and talents that God has uniquely given you, and then how you use those gifts to give back to the world. Tonie has done so through photography, through hosting an Airbnb and through her newly launched clothing line, which she’s gonna talk all about; Blaze Kids Wear. We’ll link you up because we’ve got a special promo code at the end of this podcast. Let’s get started.

Sarah Taylor: Okay, Tonie. So, my guess, I wanna know how old you were when you felt that entrepreneurial instinct, like my guess is you were still in diapers.

Tonie Christine: Yes. If I could’ve, I would’ve sold my diaper, but I probably shouldn’t have and I didn’t. But I would say the first business I started was Beaded Lizards, in like the third grade, and it was because another kid wanted the Beaded Lizards I made and I said, oh, I’ll sell it to you for 25 cents. And then lo and behold, within like two weeks, another girl in my class started doing the same thing. So, I went out and bought the sparkly beads so that my, my lizards were better. And I knew kind of then and there like, oh, this is, this is what I, like. I got this really cool satisfaction of like doing something that somebody else thought was really neat.

And so, that really kind of just followed me through my years. I mean, anywhere, anything from like a lemonade stand or in high school, I was like, I’m gonna buy clothes and then resell. And things like that. But it really took off in high school when a teacher saw in me that I was helping a friend who was actually, her house burnt down and her mom was our lunch lady, and back then you had to buy physical prints for your senior photos. And she had lost all of her senior photos that her mom had saved, like for months for it to buy. And I was, I was thinking, well, I have a camera. I don’t really know how to use it. And it was all film and everything. And I said, let’s just go take pictures. And so, I did ’em of her and about seven friends lined up behind her, and were like, well, why don’t you do mine? I thought. Okay, fine. And so, my teacher at the time, a marketing teacher said, Tonie, if you’ll get your business license, like from the city at 16, like I will give you extra credit. And he did.

And then another teacher, my English teacher said, if you write a business plan, I’ll give you extra credit. And she did. So, they all kind of jumped on board with me when they heard what I was doing. And it was really wildly exhilarating to be lifted up by teachers in that way.

Sarah Taylor: That’s just incredible that they saw that in you and nurtured it to the point where you felt that motivation. Yeah. Because you know, who doesn’t wanna get a better grade.

Tonie Christine: Exactly. And my grades were not awesome to be honest, like I wasn’t a straight a student, so it was what I needed to pull my grades up to be better. And as a senior in high school, I thought nobody’s gonna take me seriously as a photographer. And you know, slowly but surely, I did it part-time for all through college. It helped put me through college. I was just shooting on the weekends. I was also working other full-time jobs. I worked for an airline for five years. You know, I worked in marketing for a few years, and low and behold, I started to realize, oh, my photography stuff could bring in as much money as I’m making elsewhere if I really put my heart into it. And so, that’s kind of the avenue that I started to go and I said, okay, I’m gonna save up enough money. I could do six months of all my hard expenses on my own, and then I’m gonna go full time. So that I have, if I fail in six months, I fail. And within the first three months I had almost doubled my own income, just believing in myself enough to keep going. So, that was really when I went full-time photography after college, right before I got married. And was, it was exciting. And I’ve been doing that now for 14 years. So, it’s my bread and butter. It’s my passion. I love working with brides and grooms and all our couples. And business has just been in my blood, you know, from early on.

Sarah Taylor: Not just business, but also you know, when you’re gonna be a wedding photographer, you are there on such a mile marking day yeah. Of someone’s life. Yes. And I feel like that gives you an exhilaration.

Tonie Christine: It does. And it’s funny how, I mean, a lot of, I guess young women or women could say they were really excited about their wedding day from when they were little. I was like, far more excited about other peoples. I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought how people, you know, shape their wedding, who they bring in close with them, you know, how stressed out you can be on a wedding day. I love to take all of that off their shoulders, like the stress. As soon as your photographer walks in, it like starts to feel really real you’re oh my goodness, this is happening, you know? And so, it’s fun to be that person that really elevates someone’s wedding day, and then you actually shape how somebody remembers their wedding day with photographs. So, that’s a really big deal. It’s a pretty powerful tool. So, I’ve always loved that aspect of being able to really connect with people too on a really stressful day.

Sarah Taylor: So, you’ve been doing that. You said bread and butter 14 years. Yes. But you don’t like to have one job?

Tonie Christine: No, I don’t think I’ve ever only had one. And part of that was because you really, I mean, I, I couldn’t have funded anything, you know, without, I didn’t go into debt to start my business. I really wanted to be able to, you know, say, well, I’m gonna buy a camera with this income that I already have. And so I did that. I bought my first camera that way and I never went into debt over it. I never had to take out a huge, massive loan or anything I wanted to do all cash. And so, I felt like, okay, if this is gonna happen, I have to keep working really hard at it. And over the years it was a very slow burn. For me, it was like, you know, the tortoise and the hare. And I was the tortoise, but I was not going to let something push me back so far that I could never come out of it. So, I really had to try to make good decisions about studios and expenses and things like that and grow really, really slow. But in that I’ve, that means I’ve always, almost always, had two, you know, avenues of income and trying to make ends meet. And then when photography really took off about, you know, five years ago, I said, well, What’s next for me? What’s next? And so, I started adding team members to my photography, because as a photographer, it’s really service based. You’re stuck with just you. There’s not a lot of growth. And while that’s been amazing, it was a lot of work for what I, what I thought would become photography for the next five years.

And I don’t know, I started thinking about, I had kids in that time, and I started thinking about, do I wanna spend more time with them? How can I grow a scalable business that maybe I don’t have to be in 24/7? It’s all me. All my face. And I love to shop. I love clothing. And so, out of, I really honestly feel like out of nowhere, this idea of, well, what if I had a kid’s clothing line? Kind of came to my head and I pushed it back. I know zero about the clothing industry. I know zero about fashion design, other than there’s four seasons and stores come out with new clothes all the time. And so, I just pushed it back for like two years. I just thought that’s a funny thought. That’s a funny thought. And I even mentioned it to my husband. You know, what would you think? And he was like, well, have you ever done anything like that? I said, no. I’ve never even worked really in retail and clothes or anything. And I, it just kept coming up. And I finally felt like, wait a minute, could this be from the Lord? And I, it like finally resonated that maybe this is the reason my heart is still thinking about this two years later.

So, I bought a book on manufacturing, and it’s like this age-old book, that’s from the eighties, cuz there’s no other updated versions. And I sat on a vacation, and I read it cover to cover, on all these terms and topics and something I had zero idea about. And I still feel like I don’t really know much about it, even though I read the one book that’s out there for it. But I feel like when I really prayed about it and journaled about it, something about it kept coming up and I thought, okay, Lord, this has to be a prompting from you because why would it keep coming up? Why would I still have it on my mind? So, that is how Blaze Kids Wear was born. So, now I run, and I founded Blaze Kids Wear. It’s a children’s clothing line that is everyday wear for kids ages six months to seven years.

Sarah Taylor: Talk about the name.

Tonie Christine: So, the name was born from actually part of my photography business was always for the bride who doesn’t just walk the aisle. She blazes her own trail. And I feel like what that means to me and how we actually designed the logo for Blaze Kids Wear is that it’s kind of two triangles, and it kind of looks like an inverted Z almost. So, it’s like a pathway of a Z. And my vision for it was in the same two ships that pass in the night. You know how you don’t, they don’t actually see each other, but they’re there. They can feel the waves from one another. I feel like we could have a huge impact on the community without even knowing it, by a purchase of, from Blaze Kids Wear. By a donation from our 24-hour giving campaigns that we do quarterly. And that that impact can have a huge ripple effect. And I felt like God, if I’m gonna start a business, And it’s from you, it’s not just about making money. It can’t be because that’s, that can’t be what you’re calling me to do. Right? Right? And I really kept questioning it. And I just felt like God, in turn said, why can’t it be about that?

Why can’t it be that we bring in funds and we bring in capital and we bring in profit, and then you do something with that. Like, that was a very kind of groundbreaking moment for me because I felt like, Is business from God? Like, am I allowed to feel passionate about growing a business? And I felt like that is where, like my journal just exploded. I, I wrote for a few days straight on, okay. God, I really, I believing this is from you. And so, when the logo kind of started to take shape in my mind and heart, I have pictures on me sketching, different Zs, but we want to be able to clear the path, and for someone else that you may not even know. So, blazing their trail and blazing your own trail is kind of the thought behind where the name came from. And it’s clearing a path for someone else where they may face complications, hardship, and they don’t even know you, but you have gone before them. And you have made way for them and you’re making their life easier.

Sarah Taylor: And so how does that happen by someone purchasing these adorable clothes, by the way?

Tonie Christine: Thank you. So, a dollar from every single one of our purchases goes immediately to that fund every quarter. Then on top of it, if we don’t hit a certain amount of orders, because we’re so new, we make an additional donation and then on our website, all of our followers, all of our customers can nominate a family that is currently going through hardship. So, specifically we want to help people who are facing maybe a sudden eviction or suddenly they have a death in the family, or they’re facing really hard medical hardship, or suddenly bills have a amounted and I don’t know what I’m going to do. And the crazy thing is, in, in any sphere, there is one degree of separation from someone who is facing that. And the really amazing thing is that they can just go nominate them. We vet them quickly by just checking in with them, emailing, calling, and making sure that this family, you know, is really in some, some sort of dire need, and that maybe a thousand dollars, $2,000 will literally get them through that. And that to me is what’s groundbreaking.

I can’t empty my bank account every single month and give 2, 3, 4 or $5,000 to every family that I come across, but what I can do is use the platform I have to say, Hey, if you have a Venmo balance of 50 cents that you didn’t even know you had, can you transfer that over in this 24 hour giving campaign and what that 50 cents does, some people give 50 cents. Some people have given 7 cents. Some people have given $200 and it’s, it’s amounted to almost $7,000 in like our first eight months of giving. So, the incredible thing is watching that ripple effect and how we’re taking just small hardships off someone’s plate right then.

Sarah Taylor: Who is one of your recipients?

Tonie Christine: Well, we actually just chose a new family today. So, we’re getting in contact with them. It’s the Gardner family. And they had a really tragic accident on the Oregon coast. And they were on a family vacation with their seven-year-old and dad and son were out riding bikes and were hit by a drunk driver.

And, and immediately the seven-year-old was lost, and dad is in ICU in Oregon, not even at home. So, imagine if you are that mom, wife, and you’re there, you don’t even get to bury your child right now. You are still by the bedside of your husband who may or may not make it. And you’re supposed to be thinking about like medical bills or funeral costs? Like I can’t really fathom that. And so, we just wanna take that off their plate. We wanna take something small or maybe it’s, you know what, it’s her it’s her hotel stays for the next nights, because they’re not even near home. Whatever it is for the next week, we can take something off their plate in mind. And if it’s sometimes this dire need that’s right now, we go through the person who nominates them, because we’re able to say, okay, we know this person and they’re able to give right back. So, we have also in the past helped two families. One who a dad was facing a second round of cancer treatment, and they thought that his cancer was gone, and they have two small children who are going to the hospital daily. Mom has to stay in a a hotel nearby the hospital. Groceries are a challenge. So, we wanted to pay for an Instacart membership. We wanted to do things like that that would just make her life easier in the moment. Maybe we’re not taking care of a hundred thousand dollars medical bills, but the reality is we can alleviate something right now.

Sarah Taylor: That right now is a buoy. I get that. Wow. One thing that you did during Christmas was you put together stockings for single moms.

Tonie Christine: Yes. Yes, we did. I forgot about that actually. An additional campaign we did just for fun because I, one of my favorite things at Christmas time is stockings. I love to open them. I love to stuff them for my children. Sh, Santa still is the one who stuffs them. And I just thought to myself, man, If my, you know, if my husband or partner wasn’t home, that, you know, wasn’t home, like he was, if he was deployed or something, or I was single, I wouldn’t even get to have one. And I thought to myself, well, that’s a bummer. So, what does that look like? Let’s I wanna stuff a stocking for someone else. So, I actually initially reached out to my kind of audience and they, you can do this in a small audience. My Blaze Kids Wear account only had like 900 followers at the time, and I said, Hey, you guys, what are some of your favorite things that you love to get in your stockings? I’m going to stuff two stockings. And then will you tell me a single parent that, you know, write their name, their address, and tell me a little bit about them in a message. Well, I got like 75 messages from people. I know a single parent who’s doing amazing, who’s giving back in their community. And I just thought, oh, I can’t do 75 of these. And then one woman said, Hey, I would love to do a stocking too. And I said, oh my goodness, what if we make this a thing? So, I took donations for 24 hours. We raised almost $2,000 and we stuffed 17 stockings. So, in them were like neat things. We didn’t wanna just junk.

Sarah Taylor: I remember. No, I know you gave good stuff.

Tonie Christine: Yes. We gave like really cool jewelry and lotions and base masks. Things that would be a luxury to any parent who, and probably wouldn’t be spending money on this kind of thing. And then we also did envelopes of cash. We did gift cards, because we felt like, Hey, you need 50 bucks to go buy yourself a pair of shoes or a bill that month or whatever. So, we stuffed them with really cool things. And then we wrapped ’em up beautiful. My daughter and son got involved. We took a huge time lapse of like the four or five hours took to stuff them all. And we shipped them out and absolutely incredible. Cuz we included a little note saying, this is from, you know, like the Blaze kids’ family, and we just want you to know, we see you. We see how hard you’re working, and we wanted to have an impact on your Christmas morning. So, save this for Christmas morning.

Sarah Taylor: I love how you tell the story of this in real time. Like you just described the time lapse and stuff. You know, I was one of the people that was watching as you did that. And so, part of what you’re doing with this clothing line, with your photography, with your Airbnb, which we can talk about, is you tell a great story through the process. You wanna talk about why that matters?

Tonie Christine: Yeah. I mean, I think ultimately when you’re thinking about starting a business, it, it takes a, it takes a lot and it’s really scary. So, the first thing I wanted to do was I wanted people to feel a part of that because that’s what they feel more connected when you allow them to be. If I’m just putting out this perfect content, and if I just put out that, oh, here’s this brand-new line of clothes I designed, people wouldn’t feel the connection to it. And so, I said, what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna jump on, I’m gonna do live. I’m gonna do stories. I’m gonna show on an email list that I have no clue what I’m doing. So, if you go back to the beginning of the Blaze Kids Wear phase, it’s literally me opening the first mail package I got of the prototypes and realizing, oh my goodness, I could have chosen a different fabric for each one of these. And he just sent them to me all on this gray, hilarious fabric that wasn’t at all what I was thinking. So, it’s like seeing the mishaps, but it’s bringing you along for the ride. And now those people that were the first 250 people that were there, were like, man, I was there from the start.

And the crazy thing is you will have mess-ups. My very first purchase of inventory was the largest purchase I have ever made up outside of a car in a house. And I hit send on that money and I what am I doing? Like, this is terrifying. What if this doesn’t sell? What I, what if nobody likes it? You know? And I just thought, okay, Lord, I have no clue, but I’m just gonna do this. And so I did. I moved forward and the coolest part was that people were waiting with me for the trucks to arrive in my yard. Like, I kid you not the day that the trucks arrived, I did a little video of it’s here. And I, I blew up. I had like 75 messages, I’ve been waiting. I can’t believe it. I’m so excited. And then launch day came and they were all excited with me. So, it’s so important for people to feel that connection. And that’s why I love the giving campaigns because they get to feel a part of it. They get to see the money grow over those 24 hours. And it really brings people into the fold of your brand, rather than just being, you know, something that they don’t have a connection to, and they don’t really care about.

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So, many people are looking for opportunities around Christmas to bless a single mom or, you know, ways to give back. Like the way you’re describing, which is, you know, how it feels good, obviously to buy a cute little outfit for your kiddo, but then also to know that you’re making a difference for someone else. And so, I love that you’re taking that leadership role and giving people an opportunity so frequently to do what they naturally want to do. They just need the invitation.

Tonie Christine: Yes. And the amazing thing is, I had three people message me and say, Hey, can I like steal this idea for the Christmas stockings? And I’m a 100% do it. And one gal in state said, can I come next time and help you package? And I was like, heck yes, because the reality is that it took a really long time. And it, the packaging, and the mailing and all of that, but I actually thought about what if this year we did a packaging party. If I told people we have 20 stockings if you wanna bring an item to stuff great. Or somebody else could bring the stockings, we start assigning things, and then they all come together to be a part of it… that to me is like growing the community. And it really is a beautiful way to grow your brand at the same time, because it’s not just about making money. It’s what you do with that money and that reach. Because as your reach grows, the impact can grow. And sometimes one month somebody may be able to give $50. And the next, you know, the next quarterly giving campaign we have, they can give 50 cents. Or new people are giving. But they’re all being pulled in and they’re all realizing that they could have an impact, even if their pennies are what they feel like, nothing, it adds up.

Sarah Taylor: This next question, doesn’t have anything to do with business. And then we’re gonna talk about your, is it Air B&B or VRBO, or is it…

Tonie Christine: Airbnb? Yes.

Sarah Taylor: Yeah. Okay. And is it VRBO [pronounced it Verbo] or VRBO?

Tonie Christine: I know. Well, I’ve wondered that too. Okay. I don’t like those…

Sarah Taylor: That makes me feel better.

Tonie Christine: Yeah. Then the new commercials VRBO [pronounced it Verbo], I was like,

Sarah Taylor: I know, right?

Tonie Christine: I’m like, that’s not what I say.

Sarah Taylor: So, before we get to that third business, because you’re such a great storyteller, sometimes I pop on and I catch something halfway through.

Tonie Christine: Okay.

Sarah Taylor: This is about your little guy and the octopus. He lost an octopus, and for our audience, this is, you know, a lovey. It’s like the thing that your kid, it’s irreplaceable and now they don’t have it. What happened?

Tonie Christine: So, he has had this octopus since he was born. It’s literally just a jelly cat stuffed animal, and he loves it. He, he twists the tentacles through his finger, and we purchase backups because we know, we’re parents. Like this is my second kid, not my first rodeo. I know that I need a replacement. Well, low and behold, no replacement will work because he has stretched out one of the tentacles and his name is long tentacle inky. And when my son was 18 months old, when he would say long tentacle inky, it was like the funniest thing. So, inky has been around. And then one day I realized, oh my gosh, Inky’s gone. And he had had two that day. He had had both of his pink Inky’s in his arms. And I just posted, I randomly on my story and I said, you guys, I’m so sad. And like, my son’s Inky’s are gone. And I started like, digging in my camera roll. And I just found all these old, you know, videos and photos of him with it. Nothing’s spectacular. It was just all the cute ones that as a mom, you love. And before I know it, a woman messages me and says, well, where do you think you lost it? And I said, well, I don’t know. We were, you know, out of town. We were in Leavenworth this weekend and we, we looked high and low on the parking lot we were at. And she goes, well, did you look, you know, you must have walked this route. And I was like, wait, you live there. And she goes, yeah. Do you want me to go downtown and look? And I thought you gotta be kidding me. I said, well, no, I don’t wanna put you out. I don’t. She goes, I’m getting my kids in the car now I’m gonna go look. And she went and looked. And about an hour later, she said, Tonie, I think that maybe one of the store owners saw them. And I thought, what? And she goes, yes, I’m gonna call them. I know them. So, she called a store owner after hours, and said, did you happen to find octopuses in your store? And it’s a toy store of all places. And he goes, no, I don’t think so. He says, but let me, this is important. Let me run down to the store and find them. He goes down to his store after hours. Finds, both the Inkys in the store. And then the next day that person went and picked him up. And then she sent them with a friend who was coming over the mountains, a three-hour drive back to us. And I have a photo of Knighton getting his inky back after a week. I mean, we thought they were gone, for sure. And he’s like, just welling up with tears.

He was only like two and a half and he’s, he was like, overcome with emotion because inky was back and that’s happened like multiple times now, we’ve lost inky and Maui. We’ve lost Inky at home. And now I have a highlight on my Instagram called the Inky saga, and everybody is on board with Inky. Everybody knows Inky. And then I get pictures all the time. People send me, Tonie, have you been to this octopus restaurant? Like they, everybody knows. And then a balloon artist created a massive balloon Inky for Knighton’s birthday. So, we, inky is now a thing. And, but its community based. Like I had no idea people would latch onto this concept so much, but they have, and now they love seeing Knighton with his Inky.

Sarah Taylor: It’s just, it, I love that everyone understood how important this was. I think, because like, if, if you didn’t have this attachment as a kid to something, like either one of your kids does, like you understand the thing.

Tonie Christine: Yes. All the mom’s writing back saying I’m in tears. You found cause real time.

Sarah Taylor: I welled up with tears. At the, I want like reunited to play in the back. Okay. I’m glad we told that story. Okay. Speaking of Leavenworth, you and your husband own a beautiful house there. It’s called the Over…

Tonie Christine: Overlook.

Sarah Taylor: Overlook. Yes. And the architecture on this is amazing. And so, people can go on Airbnb.

Tonie Christine: Yes. They can book it. Mm-hmm .

Sarah Taylor: And you with your impeccable style. Have just created such a, a beautiful getaway. And how long have you been running this Airbnb?

Tonie Christine: Yeah, we started about a year and a half ago. We actually got halted on our build during COVID. And as a businessperson, I’ve always felt like, you know, one of the business books I read a long time ago talks about, you know, most, like the number million, if you want to own have a million dollars in assets one day you need seven streams of income. And I thought, well, that seems like really out there, I’m never gonna have seven streams of income. But they can be generally anything like your day job, if you have stock options, you know, anything. And so, my husband and I have always dreamed of having kind of a real estate income coming in. And so, we saved, and we saved really hard. And we actually used his dad as our contractor. And although he didn’t give us, he didn’t do it for free. We paid him, but we got a better deal than likely a regular contractor off the streets. And we saved really hard to build it without any debt. And so, we, we hired an architect that’s a friend, but like one of the most amazing prestigious architects in Washington state. And we built this cabin with like a really cool vision in mind that you are cantilevered overlooking the river, because you’re literally on a cliff side above the river in Leavenworth. And so, I am no interior designer, but I, my husband was like, we’re not hiring one. You can do it yourself. And I thought, oh no, I can’t do this myself. But ended up being really fun, aside from all the COVID delays. And we’ve been renting it out for a couple years now. And it’s beautiful to see all the memories that are made there. The families that come through, we leave a postcard that’s very personal. Again. We want them to know that this is a house we built.

It’s our family’s dream. We come here, we spend time as a family, and we want you to make memories here too. So, we put that on a postcard and then right there next to it is an Instax digital camera. And we leave each group a roll of film for them to document their, like time at the cabin. So that they’re making memories. And they’re feeling like, wow, these people are invested in us.

Sarah Taylor: So intentional. Intentionality is so important to you with every aspect of your business. And you mentioned a lot about journaling. Yeah. Tell me more like for someone that that’s not their regular practice yet. Yes. Tell me what that’s meant for you and what your process is.

Tonie Christine: Well, let me tell you this. I’m a, I mean, obviously I’ve got three separate businesses. I’m a pretty like scattered person. I love, you know, having my hand and everything. And so, journaling, isn’t something I do every day. It’s not like, I will say nine times outta 10, the time I’m journaling is because I’m stressed out, and I’m trying to get my thoughts out to the Lord and to myself and to just offload some of the things that are on my mind. Or occasionally, if I have like burning ideas, I have these notebooks all around my house, so I’m not organized. It’s not like, oh, I need to sit down and journal every single day. Because that’s just not who I am.

Sarah Taylor: That’s a major relief to everybody listening.

Tonie Christine: Like, like don’t put that pressure on yourself that it has to be done. I literally probably have 10 sketch pads and journals. One in every drawer and it I’ll just grab the one that’s in front of me. And I’ll intentionally buy all the journals being like, this is gonna be my bla kids wear journal, and it just never happens. But if I find one, I rip out the pages and I put it in the other one, or whatever. And for me, the really amazing thing, is to go back to those stressed-out times and look at them and be. Tonie, you are praying for this where you are now three years ago or a year ago or five years ago. And look at where your business is, because the reality is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Right? It’s so frustrating when you see everything happen in the blink of an eye on TikTok and Instagram and social media. But I’m here to tell you that the slow burn is the better burn, and you have to be consistent with it. So, Blaze Kids didn’t become an overnight sensation. I am still, you know, not turning a great profit. Like I just know that, okay, Lord, I’m trying to be diligent. I’m trying to make good decisions. And when I’m fearful, or when I’m stressed out, or when I feel like sometimes the devil even kind of, you know, Starts to take my confidence away, I journal and I say, okay, Lord, but where do you want me to go? And even though I may not have the answer right then, I can go back to literally three weeks ago and look at those journal injuries and be, whoa, Lord, you answered that. And one of my favorite things to tell people is if you’re not a journaler, all you need to do is go get a piece of round of butcher block paper, or like the brown paper even at Home Depot… hang it on a pipe and pull it down on your wall. And I write out random goals on it, that’s like, I want to redo our Airstream by this day. Or one day I wanna own a cabin. Or one day I want to, you know, hit the $10,000 threshold for the family that we’re giving. Right now, our, our threshold, or, you know, we’re giving about $2,000 each campaign, I can’t wait to hit 10,000. But I’m not gonna remember that that was a goal of mine if I don’t write it down. So, I’ve got this big butcher paper in my bathroom or in our bedroom, and a lot of people, the idea actually came from a friend who, he writes in Sharpie on his white bathroom walls. And then every five years they paint over it, but they take pictures of it. And it just think of a creative way that will work for you. If it’s sticky notes, it’s sticky notes. Whatever it is, write your heart’s desires on there and where you wanna be in the next few years, because what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna see God and the provision. And you’re gonna see miracle after miracle and little point after point happen. It keeps you encouraged in the times where you’re completely stressed and you’re hitting rock bottom and you think I can’t do this anymore.

Sarah Taylor: What’s one of the ways that you and your husband encourage each other on these, you know, like stay in line with each other’s goals and support each other.

Tonie Christine: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like any relationship you’re gonna have bumps in the road. But the really cool thing is that Eric, from the start has been my biggest cheerleader. He has said to me, I don’t understand why you’re not doing this full time. You know, when we were dating and engaged and I was like, well, I’m just scared. I’m just scared. And so, he kind of always has had this unique blind confidence in me. And I I’m like, okay. Yeah. If he’s confident in me, I can do it. So, when you have, when you have this disbelief in yourself, and you have somebody like a best friend or someone who can say, wait a minute, you are really good at this. This is what God’s calling you to do. Because like I said earlier, A lot of times I felt like, how could God be calling me to a business? That doesn’t seem very Christlike. But really my best friend looked at me and said, Tonie, I own a business too. What do you mean? And we sat down and we hashed out and she really encouraged me, that like, God can call you to these things because you don’t know who you’re gonna run into along the way.

And so, for Eric and me, it’s, it’s amazing to have somebody to come to and say, what do you think about this idea? And he’ll kind of refine the idea. Or he’ll question me and he’ll, and sometimes that’s hard because then I have to defend my own idea. But it, it helps you elevate it, or it helps me go, you know what? He’s right. That’s not, that’s not where I should be. So, we kind of have like a funny rule of thumb in our marriage and life, if it’s anything over $150, we ask each other permission. Doesn’t matter what it’s, if I wanna buy a vacuum. If I wanna, Hey, you know, I’m just gonna go buy a vacuum today. It’s about, you know, $175. Is that okay?

Well, we’ve done that in business too, where, I mean, I don’t, we don’t like if I’m gonna buy toilet paper for the cabin, I’m probably not gonna have to okay it with him. But the cool thing is that he knows, but he’s not in the everyday decision because we have that trust. And so, he knows that if I buy $5,000 worth of inventory, that I’m keeping track of it and that I’m on, you know, on my budget. And when we do go over budget or anything, we’re having those sit downs. And sometimes they’re hard, but the beauty of it is that when you’re very open, then that’s when the, the trust is built. So, the more and more questions there are, the more and more communication that needs to happen.

Sarah Taylor: I’m just so thankful for your time today. Is there anything else that I didn’t ask you, just as we wrap up here in regard to the Passion Meets Purpose podcast that you wanna leave our audience with?

Tonie Christine: Yeah. I mean, like I said earlier, I think it’s really easy to feel like, huh? I just don’t know if I should do this. And for me, my photography really was kind of a slow burn from when I was young. But Blaze Kids Wear, it was something that was really on my heart. There was kind of a fire and I just kept pushing it aside. And I would just ask you to ask yourself, why do I keep pushing this down? Because what if. What if this is what God has for you? And what if you’re pushing away the ideas that he’s bringing and putting onto your heart? Because the reality is that he wants you in that. And life is a series of turns. And I have always said that there is no wrong turn with the Lord. So, it’s not like you take this sharp right turn and suddenly you’re in the wrong place. God says, Hey, that wasn’t the one I had for you, but just veer right on back. It’s like a winding path. It’s not a series of left and right. He’s gonna be right there with you. So, the question is, you know, from me really, why are you pushing down those ideas that God’s putting on your heart?

Sarah Taylor: Tonie Christine, our huge thanks to her. And of course, she wants to offer you a promo code for your first purchase of Blaze Kids Wear. Type in promo code: PURPOSE20. two-zero… Purpose20 for 20% off your next order. Our thanks to her. Our thanks to you for listening. You can share Purposely podcasts with your friends; you know where to find it. I’m gonna see you again in two weeks.

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