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My vision for Katie Savannah & Co. was birthed over 20 years ago… but didn’t come to true fruition until the year 2020, when it seemed like the world was on fire. Crazy time to start a business right? Well… listen in because there’s a story to tell here…

I sold my very first painting when I was five years old. Sounds crazy, right? 
To be honest, it probably wasn’t very good - but I distinctly remember that painting of autumn maple trees wasn’t too bad either! - I was with my family for a fall vacation at Kanuga, an Episcopal retreat center nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. 

I remember spending a cool afternoon coloring on the porch and trying to capture the explosion of color I saw in the trees all around me. “Not bad!,” I thought. I held onto my sketchbook and didn’t think much of it until the next day. 

You see, there was a family from Russia spending the week at Kanuga also who shared their testimony at dinner that night. They owned an orphanage in Moldova and spoke of their concern for how they would keep the heat on that upcoming winter. Call it what you will, but something clicked in my little brain and the Lord gently laid a mission on my heart. I promptly asked my parents if I could sell that drawing of trees to another family for a few quarters at dinner that night so I could purchase a sketchbook and more paint from the drug store up the road. Smiling and without digging much deeper, they agreed. 

I cannot begin to tell you the fervor with which I worked over the following days on those paintings of the trees and the mountains. Again, I doubt they were anything spectacular, but that didn’t matter. I hustled my way around the dining room each night to move as much product as my tiny hands could paint and carry. And let me tell you, by the end of that week, I had a whopping $3.75. I could have jumped over the mountains themselves if I wanted to at that moment. 

With my cash in hand, I waited until the last evening to approach the couple who owned the orphanage. Being as young as I was, there was no great speech made or expectation of praise, just me thrusting those three dollars in the air towards them and saying that I wanted to make sure the heat stayed on that winter.

In all my life, I don’t believe I’ve ever received a more tearful, heart-filled embrace than the one I received from that woman. Nor have I ever felt such palpable joy. Looking back, there was no way I could have known that that one action would influence the rest of my life. From that day forward, I have always associated my art with joy

Where that family is now, I wish I could tell you. But over the last twenty years, that experience has never let go of me and I have never put my paintbrush down. I grew up knowing that whether it was a doodle on my homework, a colorful note of encouragement scrawled to a neighbor, a small, whimsical painting business with my mom when I was eleven, my ridiculous chicken paintings,  a mural on the wall of my high school, the painting in a child’s room, a friend’s wedding invitation, a painted Bible verse that got someone through a hard time, or a portrait of someone’s first home, when I answered the call of the gift that God has given me, joy always followed

When 2020 happened and the world went crazy, I’m so grateful that I decided, and was encouraged by countless amazing people, to choose to start something new… to choose joy.