One thing that sets my heart on fire is seeing women use their gifts and passions to make much of Christ in creative ways. Over the past few years, the Lord has opened my eyes to countless women who have recognized their gifting from God and are using what they have and who they are to bring glory to God. Rebecca Smith is a beautiful example of this! Rebecca is a wife, momma, and entrepreneur. She started Better Life Bags in 2009 and since the founding of her business, God has grown it in exponential ways to be a ministry and an avenue to share the gospel. Better Life Bags employs women who are refugees in the Detroit area and gives them an opportunity to be entrepreneurs and help provide for their household. I purchased my Emily diaper bag from Better Life Bags to use with our baby boy! I wanted my money to go to support a gospel-centered cause and can’t wait to use my bag and share with others about this mission!
Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?
Hi, I’m Rebecca. I love Jesus, my husband, my kids, the camera on my phone, and a good book paired with a bag of chocolate. Milk – not dark. I’m on this crazy ride of stewarding a business that God has started in an under-resourced neighborhood of Detroit.
What is your definition of a “life lived beautifully”?
Gosh. Loving God and loving people. Choosing to invest in the people and the places that God has placed around you. Doing it in the mess and the chaos that is life. And living whole and free because Jesus died to make that possible today. Not just in heaven. Today.
When did you start following Jesus?
I learned about what Jesus did for me when I was about 10. My mom did this illustration with pepper flakes in water that represent my sin and then stuck a toothpick with dish soap on the end in the water. It repelled the pepper flakes and make the water clear again. I understood then what Jesus had done for the bad things I did, but I didn’t understand how that should change how I live until I was in college.
Jesus became the Lord of my life and the one who directs my decisions after I started reading the Bible and developing a personal relationship with Him.
What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourself.” Philippians 2:3 // This is a good gut check for me. A thermometer to check my motivations.
And then we have Psalm 126 hanging above our couch. “The Lord has done GREAT THINGS for us and we are filled with joy.” It’s a constant reminder to be thankful.
How did God direct you to start Better Life Bags?
Our business started as a divine accident, actually. I made a diaper bag when I was first pregnant with my son, posted pictures of it on Facebook and custom orders started rolling in. After moving intentionally to a highly immigrant area of Detroit in 2010, I realized that many of the women I met could not work outside their homes for cultural reasons, yet they had a great need to provide for their families. At the same time, our little shop was growing quicker than I could keep up with myself, so I married the two needs together and hired my first seamstress. We now employ thirteen people from our community and have a really fun interactive website to help with the custom aspect of our bags.
I like to say that I’m just a steward of what God is doing. I truly know that God started this business, named it what He did, and for some reason saw me fit to lead it. I’m honored and humbled and in awe at what He continues to do with it. How many ladies it is helping here in our community and how many people are carrying around our bags!
What is the vision behind Better Life Bags?
We hire women, who otherwise could not work, to work for us. We pay them a living wage and watch them gain dignity, honor, and respect. We just want to make lives better. To prove to corporate America that you can make a profit without sacrificing the people.
How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with creativity?
Living creatively reflects our creative God. But, sharing the Gospel, for me, is such an integrated part of life. I choose to live life closely alongside others and show them first what a life with Jesus looks like. Then let them hear from my mouth the life saving power of Jesus. And then I pray that they will understand and turn. I take a lot of this from John 8:43.
What life lessons have you learned in being a wife, momma, and owner of a growing business? What tips would you have for other mom’s doing the same thing?
First of all, I don’t “do it all.” I do a LOT with LOTS of help. We have a nanny, cleaning lady, and a great team at BLB. I also have come to the conclusion that God doesn’t need to me to attend all the conferences or read all the books or do all the things to grow BLB. He grows it in spite of what I do – or don’t do. He works in my lack.
I also decide on the non-negotiables in my life. When will I work? When will I not? For me, when my kids are home and awake, I choose not to work. The minute their heads hit the pillow, my computer is open and I’m working. I wake up early to read and sneak some more work in. And I made sure to hire a super fun nanny who gives them incredible one and one attention and “fun” while I’m away. There is a limit to what I will do and how far I will go to make this company succeed. When I find myself trying to DO too much, it’s a sign that I’m getting in the way of God.
What are some books you are currently reading?
What’s Best Next by Matthew Perman
If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?
God has given you a specific talent that will meet a need of someone around you. He has placed you in your exact house with your exact neighbors on purpose. He has made you the mother of your kids. He just needs brave women willing to take small tiny steps that follow His voice.