We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeleine and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Madeleine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Three people inspired me to start Zelie Crafts. The first person who inspired my shop was my midwife for both my children, Rebekah Knapp. She brought over 1,000
babies into the world and served her community selflessly because she believed it was
her mission from God. Sometimes all she accepted for payment was produce and
chicken eggs because she wanted to give the nearby Amish community a chance to
have a healthy, safe birth.

She was the only midwife in the area to accept me as a
patient because I had previously experienced two miscarriages. She gave hope to my
pregnancies and allowed the birth of my children to be two of the most incredible
experiences of my life.

She tragically died in a car accident, and it really woke me up. There is no time like the present. Fortunately for Rebekah, even though she was under 40 when she died, she had already lived a life worthy of 20 people. Following
in her footsteps, the purpose of my shop is to bring more joy and courage into the world. Making my products brings joy and courage into my family, and I want to share that joy and courage with the people that buy them.

The second person who inspired my shop was Saint Zelie Martin, the mother of
St. Therese of Lisieux. Looking for comfort after losing my midwife, Rebekah, I read a
book about Saint Zelie and instantly felt an immediate connection. As I sought out her
letters and diary entries, I learned that she and I have been through several similar
trials. Saint Zelie also owned her own lace business and sewed the lace herself for the majority of her adult life. She provided for her family to the extent that her husband retired his watch shop in order to help her run the lace business.

I used to think that a stay-at-home mom needed to devote every hour and every ounce of
attention to her children and that anything else she spent time on was selfish. After
nearly three years of trying to live completely for my children, I was burnt out. Reading about Saint Zelie really
opened my eyes and made me realize I could be a good mom and also have accomplishments apart from my motherhood.

The third person to inspire my shop was my daughter. The first doll I ever made
was a princess doll that she requested. I had no idea what I was doing. I basically just
used the sewing skills I had learned way back in high school and did my best to match
the picture of the princess that she had given me. To my surprise, my daughter absolutely
loved it. She saw the time and energy I put into making it and I think that made it truly
special to her. “Mommy MADE this for me, Daddy!” she would chant over and over
again. “It’s very special to me.” It was then I realized how much I missed creating
things and immediately began brainstorming how I could incorporate creativity back into
my life.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My faith is what drives this business—it’s the main purpose of it. At first, I didn’t plan to target a strictly faith-based audience, but as time went on, I realized I wouldn’t be able to be passionate about products that didn’t encourage the Faith in one way or another. I wanted the products to bring faith into everyday life for families. When things are personal and tangible, I think we learn and bond and remember it more clearly and in a way that lasts. That’s why I wanted to create products that could bring faith into the lives of families on a personal level. I wanted the saints to be my daughter’s friends and that’s what I hope my saint dolls can accomplish for other children.

From my perspective, my miscarriage artwork and remembrance gifts are definitely some of the most meaningful items in my shop.

My miscarriage artwork is meaningful to me because when I experienced my miscarriages it felt like I was one of the few; that it was something rare and abnormal. It meant the world whenever someone gifted us a tangible item to symbolize our loss. It gave me something to look at and hold onto and grieve over. It made the loss feel real and respected.

That’s what I hope my miscarriage artwork can do for someone facing a similar trial. I hope that I can help a family face that loss, give them something real and tangible to acknowledge and respect their grief. And Saint Zelie’s knowing words were the perfect fit for the message I wanted to share: “We shall find our little ones again up above.”

My work has tested my faith in ways I never expected. Creating each of these products takes a piece of my heart every time, and then it’s sent out into the world for approval or disapproval. I have to remind myself over and over again that my worth is not attached to my products and that my worth is not attached to what other people think of them. My worth comes from God and God alone. I didn’t even realize I had such a strong issue with self-worth until I started this business and was forced to recognize how much I crave the approval of others over the things that I care about. But, again, my worth does not come from anyone but God, and that’s a lesson I think I’ll spend my entire life learning.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a work-from-home mom, so I don’t go many places unless they’re kid-friendly. That being said, we love the Fort Worth Science Museum, the Cowgirl Museum and the Botanical Gardens. For restaurants, we love HG Supply and Flower Child. We also love the Clear Fork area; lots of fun shops and restaurants to try there! On Saturdays Clear Fork has a great Farmers Market with lots of artisans sharing their work. We love attending.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My daughter and my husband are my greatest helpers in this business. My 5 year old daughter always provides feedback (a mix between positive and negative). She is super honest. If she doesn’t like it, I often work hard to change it in order to pass her approval. She holds me to a high standard and I love it.

My husband helps me out a lot with errand-type tasks. He’ll drop off an order to ship or go to laminate and print out some saint cards, etc. He also sometimes watches the kids for me on the weekends so I can get work done without too much distraction. I would be lost without his financial advice and practical way of thinking. His support and encouragement means the world.

My son motivates me with his constant smiles and giggles and the joy he exudes when he plays with my products.

Website: www.zeliecraftsshop.com

Instagram: @zeliecrafts

Facebook: Zelie Crafts

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