Arin Weller’s life was drastically different 12 years ago.
Frustrated because life after university wasn’t going as she planned, her self-confidence plummeted.
“I found myself in a really low place,” she said. “My aunt and spiritual mentor, Karen Hurdle, invited me to a service at Bethel AME Church and I decided to give my heart to Christ.
“Although I was raised to know and love God, it wasn’t until after this that I decided to start discovering God again for myself. I started attending church regularly and found a home at Better Covenant Christian Fellowship of which I am still a member. Unbeknown to me, the next five to ten years would be some of the most difficult, but also the most transformative of my life.”
During that period she had to find the courage to leave an abusive relationship and adapt to life as a single mom.
“It was strange because I had come to Christ, but my life kind of took another dip. The Bible says you become a new creation in Christ and you are renewed, but trials and tests still come as the transformation from old to new man is challenging.
“I had a hard time letting go of my old, worldly ways. I wasn’t yet sure of who I was in Christ or what my true purpose was and I was still looking to things that didn’t serve me well.
“I had a son that God had entrusted me to raise and I knew I wanted to bring him up in the best environment possible, so I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror and start working on bettering me. I had to fully submit to God.”
She made a complete switch, changing the music she listened to, the clothes she wore and people she surrounded herself with.
She also started praying for God’s will over her life.
“That is what led me to start Sacred: Faith-Inspired Gifts,” said Ms Weller. “I was always on the hunt for products and clothes that reflected my faith and would look for pieces that reminded me of who I was in Christ.
“It started out with basic T-shirts with Christian messages and slogans on them that inspired me. I’d wear these to different events on the weekends and people would say, ‘Where did you get that? That looks really nice.’ They wanted something similar and couldn’t find them in Bermuda and so the thought crossed my mind to bring them in myself.”
Compliments continued to pour in, however Ms Weller didn’t think she was quite ready to step out in faith and start a business.
“Eventually I felt a push in 2017 to really get this business idea off the ground,” she said. “That summer I went to my first Christian retail trade show and from the moment I stepped into the room, I felt this sense of peace and purpose wash over me. I had never felt that kind of joy and jubilation before, so it was confirmation for me that I was on the right path.”
To boost her knowledge she enrolled in an entrepreneurial business course through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation and eventually began selling faith-based and inspirational products — books, apparel and home decor items — at community events.
“For me the products offer hope in a time when we need it most,” said Ms Weller, who is also a chaplain. My aim is that through these products customers will be empowered, edified and encouraged to live their best life and know the value they possess.
“It’s easy to find secular products on the market, but these products are more purposeful and have deeper meaning behind them. I’ve also found they provide me with a source of accountability and help to spark conversations about God and my beliefs.”
With a demanding day job and a nine-year-old son, it hasn’t always been easy to carve out time to grow the business. Still, she’s thankful for all the doors God has opened so far.
“I never thought I would be here doing this,” said Ms Weller, who is in the process of designing her own line of faith-inspired clothing. “At one point I felt I wasn’t capable of bringing this vision to fruition. I was new to entrepreneurship and this was out of my comfort zone. Then I saw this quote: ‘God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.’
“When you put God first He is faithful and will bring everything together. I also didn’t know, when starting the business in 2017, that it would end up being such a challenging time for me personally.
“My niece Cymai was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer and her death really hit me to my core. Having this business gave me something positive to focus my attention on during that time and it’s something I’m extremely thankful to God for.
“My hope is that Sacred will bring a positive and empowering sense of peace and purpose to Bermuda as it did me.”
Look for Sacred: Faith-Inspired Gifts at the Designer & Vintage Market at 17 Reid Street. Contact: Instagram, @Sacred_bda; Facebook: Sacred — Faith Inspired Gifts; firstname.lastname@example.org