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Daily Inspiration: Meet Katie Simkins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Simkins. 

Hi Katie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
When I graduated from high school, I started a clothing line where I repurposed vintage garments and fabric into more modernized women’s tops and dresses. I ran this line until I graduated from college, at which point I felt called by God to pivot into serving in urban education and ministry in Chicago. I went to graduate school for education and spent about 10 years running art programing, and working in special education in underserved communities in Chicago. When I married my husband, who is a pastor, we started our family pretty quickly. We had 2 boys in 2 years, which presented yet another pivot that I took into the ministry of motherhood. It was during this time that God began to reignite my passion for design and creating with purpose. I knew it had to be something that fit with my season of motherhood because my time and energy for things outside of caring for my babies was limited. I started to dream about what I could do from my kitchen table and knew that whatever I did, I wanted my work to serve a greater purpose. I wanted to be able to give back. My mom runs a ministry, that she started after my eldest brother passed away, caring for men and women struggling with poverty and homelessness. I knew I wanted to give back a percentage of my proceeds from my work to the women that her ministry served. 

So, in the Fall of 2019, I launched my small business, Common Mission Women (aka CMW), which is primarily handcrafted jewelry that I design and make. 10% of the proceeds from my sales go directly towards caring for the women in my mom’s ministry. I honestly wasn’t sure how much of an impact CMW could make, because it was just me making all the product, but as of the end of 2021, we have been able to give $1616 to meet the needs of these women. It’s not an astronomical amount of money, but I am constantly reminded that even a small impact can cause a ripple and that even small gestures of generosity matter. We’ve been able to provide Thanksgiving dinner for a single mom and her kids, a Christmas tree and gifts for another single mom, diapers, grocery cards, and there have been so many other small but essential needs we’ve been able to meet. 

I’m only a little 2 years into my small business, but I continue to remain open-handed to what God wants to do with it, and what the future could hold. Being able to design, and create products that have meaning and purpose, has been extremely life-giving for me personally, and I’ve loved that it’s also allowed me the opportunity to meet and connect with so many women that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I would love to continue to grow my product line, and I also have a dream of collaborating with other female artists as I do that. I think the most important thing I have found in sustaining this business, is staying true to the mission and to myself as a designer. I continue to be passionate about what I create, and why I create it. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Definitely not! I know that there are so many different stories of how the pandemic has affected businesses, but that was definitely a challenging and discouraging time. I had just started my business about 6 months before the world shut down. I honestly thought Common Mission Women was done, but as I prayed about it, I felt God putting it on my heart to not only continue, but to use the business and mission to make even more of an impact. So instead of shutting down, I pivoted to giving even more. In 2020, I responded to the pandemic, and its effects on the women we served through our mission, by doubling our giving to 20%. It was amazing to see how God used that time, and that the mission continued to drive what I was doing, and why I was choosing to wake up and continue to do it. 

“Pivoting” became the theme of my small business journey, as my husband accepted a position as a pastor in Spring Hill, TN. I had always lived in Chicago, and not only were all my family and friends there, but I had developed a strong group of fellow female artists and entrepreneurs there. It was big transition in many ways and definitely has taken time for me to readjust and adapt what CMW would be here in our new home. We moved twice during 2021 as we resettled into a home here in Columbia, TN. While the transition definitely had its challenges, I have been so blown away by all the ways God has provided and allowed my business to continue. I’m slowly rebuilding my community of friends, and have even connected with some fellow female artists and entrepreneurs here. 

The final pivot, that I am currently navigating, is that I am now pregnant with our 3rd son. I, unfortunately, struggle with extreme pregnancy sickness throughout pregnancy and am high risk, so it has definitely been challenging to continue to create and work at the pace I was at before getting pregnant. I also still have 2 little boys at home, so I have to be very intentional about finding and making time to invest in CMW. I remain expectant though. I am still passionate about the work and mission of my business and am determined to continue to make room for it. I’ve taken a short break from my work with CMW, due to how sick I have been with the pregnancy, but I’m slowly starting to design and dream behind the scenes for what’s next with my business and our mission. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Common Mission Women, aka CMW, is an ethically minded handmade women’s line that exists to encourage and empower women both through the content of our designs and messaging and through the mission and impact of our products. I love creating products/designs that also carry a greater message to the person who wears it. The messaging and concepts of my designs and products specifically speak to the hearts of women, and I also incorporate a lot of my faith into my designs and messaging. 

I think the biggest thing that sets my pieces apart from a rather saturated industry, is that beyond my designs carrying a greater meaning, they also serve a greater purpose by giving back to women in need. I think a lot of people connect with that, and that people are beginning to look deeper into the products they are purchasing. There is not only a lot of “fast-fashion” waste in this industry but a lot of cheap and unethical labor practices in this industry. The women who I want to reach, are those who care about not only making a difference with what they purchase but by also purchasing product differently by considering the where/how/who behind their products. I think how our things are made matter, and I’m passionate about having a hand in my products, and knowing where it’s coming from, and how it’s impacting our world. 

What do you think about happiness?
Of course, my family and friends make me happy, but I also get so much life from creative work and am extremely passionate about helping women be known, supported, and encouraged. So many of us desire to be known, and each of us has a story and a passion for something, but I’ve noticed that there is sometimes a struggle to find our worth, and find the worth in our story or our passions. I’d love to see more women reclaiming their worth, their story, and more fearlessly pursuing their passions. These are all things I have struggled with over the years, and Common Mission Women was one way of reclaiming the things I feel that I was created for, and the things I am passionate about. 

The heart behind Common Mission Women is to empower women to pursue their passions, to remind them of their worth, and to encourage them of the value that they can bring to their communities. 

I fully believe that when we step into who we were created to be, we will begin making an impact in the lives and communities around us. When we encourage and empower others to pursue the calls of their heart, we will see individuals who begin to step into who they were created to be, living passionate lives, and ultimately creating change in the world around them in a more profound way. 

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