We have more than one Mommy Crush over here at Grace and James and we aren't afraid to admit it! Our lives are FAR from perfect, but in an effort to empower, encourage, and support each other we are excited to start our "Mommy Crush" blog series. Each month we will be introducing you to a Mommy Crush of Grace and James Kids, and giving you the inside scoop on their lives, work, and balancing act.
We have had the privilege of working with Marianna Williams, owner of Penn and Parchment, for several months now. She’s a busy Mommy of three darling kiddos who graciously finds time to shoot some of the most beautiful pictures and videos for Grace and James Kids. Marianna is teaming up with Grace and James Kids once again to offer a free Christmas print to the first 25 customers who order from our Christmas Loungewear Collections.
I’m constantly impressed and inspired by this supermom, and we are honored to feature her as our very first Grace and James Kids Mommy Crush. I recently got to catch up with Marianna after she shot the video for the Christmas Loungewear. Here’s a peek into her life and how she juggles it all.
G&JK: Tell us about Penn and Parchment. How did you get started? What’s it all about?
Marianna: It all started with a girls’ night out (like most good stories)! Some girlfriends and I attended a beginners calligraphy class just for fun, and it was an immediate obsession for me. I stayed up late into the night practicing and called in a babysitter for a few hours the next day so I could run to the nearest coffee shop and practice some more. For the two years since becoming a mom, I had been praying for God to send me a creative outlet. After I became a mom, I felt fulfilled in so many ways, but depleted in others. I was longing for a way to connect with the outside world and serve His kingdom. I dabbled in a few things, but nothing ever stuck. It couldn’t have been more clear to me that calligraphy is what the Lord intended for me to pursue. After a few months of improving my technique and learning everything I could, I developed a logo, ordered business cards and took the leap! The name of my little business is a play off of my precious boy’s name- Penn. I see Penn and Parchment as part of my ministry, so I feature mostly scripture prints. I love imagining my work adorning walls and shelves in people’s homes, bringing biblical truth to their daily lives, helping families refresh and recharge, and inspiring them to fix those words into their hearts and minds (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
G&JK: Tell us a little about your family.
Marianna: I have three children- Penn (4), Mabry (2), and Tate (1). I’m completely biased, but they’re the cutest things I’ve ever seen! I’ve been married to my husband, Arthur, for 7 years, and bless that man. He keeps my head above water and a smile on my face, handles preschool carpool and bathtime like a champ, and is the for-sure favorite amongst the babies! We all adore him!
G&JK: What advice would you give to other Mommies who are thinking about starting a business?
Marianna: Well I hardly feel qualified to be delving out business advice, but Penn and Parchment has been such a gift to me. I’d say, if you find something you’re passionate about, share it with others! Pray for God to work through you and take the plunge. I have so much to learn as a calligrapher, but if I’d waited until I felt I was perfect, I’d still be waiting! My time is pretty limited, so I’m a total naptime calligrapher! I’ve had so many people encourage me and support me along the way, and I’m so thankful.
G&JK: How do you make such amazing videos for Grace and James? What are the steps you take and programs you use? It looks so complicated!
Marianna: Well, the adorable clothing and precious models are what truly make it amazing. It’s really much more simple than people give me credit for! I do it all on my iPhone! I usually plan the location, props and general feel I’d like for the video ahead of time. I get the kiddos all dressed, lay out the props around the location, and then just have them play and be cute. I’m talking to them and directing their movements and expressions pretty much the whole time, so thank goodness you all can’t hear that! Then I edit everything on an app called iMovie. I have absolutely loved making the videos. It brings me so much joy and gives me yet another creative outlet! It has been a fun experience to share with my children, and all of the Grace and James girls I’ve had the opportunity to meet have been so sweet.
G&JK: What’s the BEST thing about being a Mom?
Marianna: It’d be impossible to say what the BEST thing is, but I truly love being a mom. Right now, my kids are at the ages where they do or say something new everyday, and it is such a joy and a gift to get to witness all of those moments. I love feeling so intimately connected to them. As much as I sometimes long for time to myself, I equally treasure this phase where they’re with me all the time. I’m honored to serve them, train them, and love them. Dressing them in cute clothes is high up on that list, too!
G&JK: What’s the HARDEST thing about being a Mom?
Marianna: It’s also impossible to say what the HARDEST thing is...it’s SO hard! I think I might be in what people refer to as “the trenches” right now!? There’s never enough time or energy left after parenting them all day to do much else, and that can be frustrating. Someone needs me all the time! And I could certainly go without picking up messes all. day. long. I’m so grateful I have a great group of girlfriends and a husband who help me on the hard days, get me out of the house, and love me through my shortcomings...because I have a lot!
G&JK: What’s your #1 Mommy Secret (how do you make life “work” and stay sane from day to day)?
Marianna: Well, I can honestly say I’ve gotten more sane with each child, if that’s even possible. I started out motherhood as somewhat of an anxious mess! I maintain that having one baby was WAY harder than having three under four! With each baby I’ve grown more confident in myself as a mother and have been forced to release control. When we were considering adding the third, a friend told me that, spiritually speaking, it was her best move. With three, you’re finally forced to truly “let go and let God”...I’ve definitely experienced that! And, of course, I can’t imagine life without my precious Tate. We still have a pretty structured schedule around here (my type-A self couldn’t abandon that completely), but when things don’t go according to plan, I don’t sweat it nearly as much. So, my advice? Keep having babies ;)!
G&JK: Thank you for letting us into your life and for being an inspiration to others!
Marianna: Thank you! I am thrilled!
Y’all make sure to hop on over to her IG @pennandparchment to see more of her work. Give her some LOVE in the comments, and make sure to FOLLOW her to keep up with all of her new pieces of work. We know there is more than one Mommy out there who’s already dreaming up birthday invitation, Christmas cards, and more from Marianna!
We’d LOVE to hear about YOUR Mommy Crush! Know an awe inspiring Mommy? Please share her name and social media handles with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.