After six years of running their own for-profit business, David and Jessica Sottilare, founders of Creative Christians in Magnolia, are planning to start up a more philanthropic endeavor. The husband and wife duo are working with Freedom Place—a recovery center for victims of child sex trafficking—to provide young girls and women an opportunity to work with crafts and learn new skills.
"We wanted to do something that would have a bigger impact, and we wanted to involve children because that has always been close to my heart," Jessica said. "This is an issue that is rarely brought to light, so we thought we could help these girls while also raising awareness of a serious problem."
The Sottilares plan to offer an array of crafting classes to Freedom Place residents, involving handmade jewelry, painting and woodworking. The classes are intended to be therapeutic, but finished crafts will also be sold at a Creative Christians shop online at a retail price. The money raised goes back to support Freedom Place.
As the nonprofit's founders, the Sottilares will lead several of the classes, but many will be taught by vendors whom they've worked with through their business. The first class will be taught by a local pottery vendor, Cathleen Disney, and will likely take place this summer.
"A lot of people have stepped forward and said they would love to help with the nonprofit," Jessica said.
The nonprofit Creative Christians will be a separate entity from the Sottilare's for-profit business, which will be known as Trinity Fine Jewelry moving forward. Trinity Fine Jewelry will continue to run from both of its current locations.
The Sottilares filed paperwork with the government seeking recognition as a 501c3 nonprofit and hope to hear back within the next few months. Jessica said they will proceed whether they are recognized.
"We have a clientele of business owners who want to donate, and they would like a [tax] write-off if possible," she said. "A 501c3 would really help get more of those people to come forward, but we can still be our own nonprofit supporting these women and children regardless."
Long-term goals for Creative Christians involve reaching the point where the girls can earn their own income by selling their crafts, or through other skills, such as jewelry repair and restoration. Jessica said she would also like to see students become teachers, creating a cycle where women recover from their traumatic experiences and can help those who have been through similar things.
"We want to find out what their talents and passions are and help fulfill them," Jessica said. "We're going to start small, but we hope that this will grow over time into something that can be self-sustaining. We're excited to get started."
In addition to David and Jessica Sottilare, several other key members of the Creative Christians board of directors have helped get the organization off the ground:
Rebecca Jones, executive director
Rebecca Konvica, spiritual adviser
Tommie Shepard, accounting
Donna Caldwell, merchandising adviser
Jeremy Brake, web designer/operator
Tony Roberts, legal adviser