WARWICK — Starting a business is like bringing a child into this world. A spark of an idea is conceived, growing within a person until the day they bring forth a new creation. The business begins in infancy, with each successive step reminiscent of the progression of childhood as the business owner nurtures their new entity into independent adulthood. It is a labor of love, and even more so if the business seeks to glorify God. Catholic business owners look at a capitalist market differently and find a niche for their work, focusing on bringing God’s truth and love to those around them. Owning and running a faith-based business is a gift for those who patronize it as well as for the business owners. Shoppers benefit by having the opportunity to purchase products from businesses that share their Christian values.
Faith and Grace Design Studios co-owners Shirley Medici and Kristina Petrilli launched their company last year. Based in Warwick, Faith and Grace specializes in “high-quality original greeting cards, custom stationery and cards, as well as branding and creative for non-profit organizations and small businesses.”
As an artist and graphic designer, Petrilli retains a studio within her home where, according to Medici, their company was first envisaged as the two women were talking.
“I glanced at a swatch of paper that was painted and I immediately thought, ‘That would make a beautiful card,” Medici said.
Not long after, she realized that there were few if any greeting cards with scripture verses on them; little in the way of spiritual comfort for those in times of trial or loss. Now, Medici prayerfully seeks scripture verses that fill this need.
“Sometimes I get inspired and then I open the Bible and God does the rest,” Medici said. “This has happened so many times. I do believe that the Holy Spirit works with you… you just have to allow it.”
The duo then pairs those words with Petrilli’s artwork, a passion she has nourished since childhood, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from the University of Rhode Island. She has worked in various mediums: acrylic and pastels, pencil and charcoal, 2- and 3D digital design and photography.
While she has long worked in graphic design and still maintains a personal artist page, Petrilli saw the light in her partnership with Medici.
“I created stationery in the past, but it wasn’t until God brought us together that purposeful creative work in stationery and branding took flight. Shirley’s career in music education, art direction and piano helps to drive the creativity that Faith and Grace produces.”
Beauty permeates the two ladies’ lives, weaving through and around them, a commonality that bonds them. Medici recalls a childhood spent surrounded by flowers at her family’s greenhouse in Providence, then years of learning and playing the piano. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Rhode Island College and a Master of Music from the University of Rhode Island. For more than 30 years, she has taught this art form to others. She brings her love of flowers and the music of words to her work at Faith and Grace Designs.
Both women love the Ocean State, seen in its sunrises, sunsets and flora and fauna – and the glory of God’s creation influences their products. Their website also offers cards for numerous occasions such as holidays, special events and grief and boxed sets can be purchased as gifts. With their shared Italian heritage, they are “filling a niche for Italian greeting cards” as well. Each of their cards are printed locally in Rhode Island on high-quality papers. Additionally, original artwork and prints are available for gifting.
Medici and Petrilli happily fill a spiritual need for others.
“We design cards that we feel are healing and inspiring,” Medici said. “We think about life’s ups and downs, and how people feel when they experience those events. Then I sit with my Bible and the scripture verses come alive.”
Operating a Catholic business means more than the bottom line, however.
“We need to continue fostering our faith and doing the work that God wants us to do. Our cards are part of this important work and enable us to utilize the gifts God has given us,” Petrilli remarked. “It is a blessing to wake up every day and produce creative work that positively affects others.”
“We are so grateful for the work God has given us to do together,” she added.
Their work can be purchased directly from their website at www.faithandgracedesignstudios.com or through various retailers around Rhode Island, listed here: www.faithandgracedesignstudios.com/pages/stockists.