By Al Stanford
A little over three years ago, I was a home designer and custom homebuilder—a profession I had been in for almost 20 years. At that time, the economy was very slow and building was at a near standstill.
And several years before in 2008, I had been through a battle with cancer. I had undergone surgery, and with the prayers of many wonderful people, came through cancer free. This event totally changed my perception of what is important—and what is not important—in life.
One morning I was at home with no work to do that day. I awoke early, and to my surprise, I had the most overwhelming feeling to go out into the garage and try to create some jewelry. To understand how out of character that was for me, you would have to know me personally. I’m a big guy who has hunted and fished all my life like a lot Mississippi guys. I knew nothing about jewelry! My wife of 34 years, “Miss Carla,” would have to show me pictures of the jewelry she wanted for our anniversary or other special occasion.
But I did know about design! I knew how to make things beautiful and attractive to the eye. I was obsessed with learning to make jewelry that someone would appreciate. It took me several weeks to make anything that Carla would wear. About this point in time, I sat down one day and sketched a simple cross design and set it aside.
I have been a Christian officially since I was 16 years old. But really, all my life I have been around wonderful Christian people. My parents not only took me to church, I saw them daily living what they were teaching me about being a Christian. Many other people I was around set an example for how to live a godly life. These people are the ones who inspire my art. They are true salt of the earth people, the ones who have taught you that their word and a handshake is all that is needed—those who love without condition. My inspiration comes from those hardworking people who sacrifice for their families and churches.
Several weeks later while trying to complete a design for a bracelet, something was missing. I tried several things but just could not get it right. Finally, I thought of the cross sketch I had done weeks earlier. I went into the house, got the sketch and traced the cross onto an old piece of building copper I had lying around and then cut it out. I laid it onto the bracelet and to my surprise it was a perfect fit! The “Grace” bracelet was born.
That was how Earth Grace Jewelry began. My wife created the name and I think it fits us perfectly!
A few months later in 2012, we presented our products at Mississippi Market for the first time. For those nine stores who wrote an order with us, you will never know what you mean to us. You know who you are and how much we appreciate you! You can also testify that this is a true story, no matter how unlikely it seems!
Earth Grace Jewelry now wholesales to over 200 stores in ten states. We appreciate each and every store we deal with. And to our customers who buy Earth Grace Jewelry, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
We thank God for our blessings and ask for guidance daily, simply asking, “God lead me where you want me to go today.”
I believe with all my heart that God’s will cannot be changed or mocked. We will follow and embrace God’s will wherever that might lead us.
Al Stanford is a Jewelry Designer with a strong spiritual influence. His work is created at his studio near New Albany, Miss. You can reach Earth Grace online via www.earthgrace.com, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 662.539.7224. His designs are copyrighted.