In the Beginning

It was the summer of 2004 and I was pondering what to do with my time, now that my boys were both in school. I had worked for 15 years as a fashion photographer, and I knew that I didn't want to go back into that industry as it was pretty dark, based all on 'who you knew' and ego!

I had just finished having lunch in Wagamama behind
Selfridges, with Maria and we had been talking about ideas
and what I could do. One of those ideas was t shirts. I
hadn't really given t shirts much thought before, also, I
had told God that I would NEVER go back into fashion
(haha!). Anyway, I left the restaurant and walked down to
the corner of Oxford Street and Duke street, where there was
a French Connection.

French Connection had just re branded their business to FCUK
and while I am not a very political person, I was so
offended by this and the fact that people thought this was
cool, that this was acceptable. I was angry that my boys and
the lovely girls I knew, would grow up thinking that this
sort of branding was the norm and that they had to look a
certain way, dress like porn stars and hookers, base it all
on sex, to get noticed in the world. I was really, really
angry and telling God about it and something in my spirit
reacted in that moment, and I felt God speak to me and this
is what He said:

"I want you to start a company to rival brands like French
Connection. I want you to use positive statements and
anything based on the bible. I want you to market me and
brand me and take my word out onto the streets because my
people are on the streets. I want you to put a cross on the
right hand shoulder to remind my people of what they carry
every day and I want you to call the brand Isaiah 61"

Now, to be honest, I didn't really know the chapter of
Isaiah 61 very well. It was only later that I discovered
that it talks about 'a garment of praise instead of a spirit
of despair', much later. It also speaks about beauty for
ashes, restoration, rebuilding and renewing. All that was in
my heart.

So, very slowly, I started to build the little brand. I
found an amazing but non christian graphic designer,
Michael, who came up with the most wonderful logo, based on
the American Route signs that line the major routes
throughout the States. When I asked Michael how he came up
with the idea, he told me that he saw my faith "as a
journey" and that fit me so well, because my faith (like all
of our faith) has been and is a journey. This became our
strap line, our 'USP'.

God started to 'show' me different logos and words He wanted
me to put on the t shirts, the very first one being 'Love
One Another' because as He said, It all begins from there.
The second logo He gave me on a rainy day in February 2005
was 'life is beautiful' and He told me that it was just a
matter of how I looked at life, to see the beauty in
it…even on a rainy and very ordinary day in a February, as
I finished my grocery shopping in Sainsburys.

I found an ethical t shirt manufacture and eventually, a
wonderful printing company based down in Plymouth. We
started with a very small run of t shirts, our first
statements being Life is Beautiful, still our best seller to
date! Love One Another, You'll never Walk alone, Surrender,
Faith is a journey and more.

We launched the brand at Focus 2006, and the response from
the people there was so encouraging. People loved the brand
and sales went incredibly well. From there, we went in 2007
to New Wine and Soul Survivor and had an incredible time,
selling a lot of t shirts and meeting some people who I
still know to this day. I knew then that we had birthed
something very special.

The journey, as you know, has been stop start, stop start
stop start, from the beginning. I have had so many amazing
moments along the way, but also great self doubt and anxiety
over what I am doing!

What I find the most incredible part of little isaiah, is
that he refused to give up on me, God refused to give up on
me. And when I try to lay isaiah down, God will bring the
most amazing encouragement to me, in the form of people who
have bought the t shirts at festivals, or simply "hey,
aren't you that t shirt lady" moments…The encouragement I
have had over the years from people he has used to speak
into my life, has simply and profoundly, kept me going.

I know that God has a plan for isaiah and for me through
isaiah, and the journey we have both been on for the past
ten years. My desire is to encourage people along the way,
who perhaps, like me, feel like giving up, feel like they
are not worthy or educated enough or qualified to do
something for God.

Because I am learning along my journey that the only one
thing that qualifies us for anything is Him and His love for
us as his kids.