Running the Marathon: Marcie Finney Ditto’s Journey Towards Mustard Seed Jewelry
Marcie Finney Ditto's journey is driven not just by entrepreneurialism, but by faith. A devout Christian, Marcie's religious beliefs guided her towards founding Mustard Seed Jewelry. Faith remains hard-wired in the enterprise. Through jewelry, Marcie shares her faith, love, and talents. Her personal prayer life is what inspires her.
Marcie's Call Towards Jewelry
Marcie Finney Ditto sets aside quiet prayer time every morning. Beyond religious and personal practice, it is the foundation of her business life.
“[M]y morning prayer time was just to get up to journal [and] sit ... in silence for about 30 minutes," Marcie said. "It just really impacted me as far as being able to help people … and then also to help just be more focused in my day. … I think it just leads you.”
Complementing her devotion to prayer is her charitable character. Marcie wants to share the love and success she has with others.
“I think once we get fueled in our hearts and we're really focused on where our passions are and where our leading is and our giftings are I just think we can't help but be entrepreneurial,” she explained. “I think you just want to get out there and you want to do something different in the world and you want to be able to have a voice that helps magnify [God’s] love in the world.”
This post is part of a series for AccelerateDFW's Storytelling initiative. For more insights on entrepreneurs in DFW and beyond, visit the Storytelling page.
While growing up, Marcie would act out little gestures, like taking money to bookstores and placing it inside of books as a surprise gift for someone, or writing little notes on peoples’ cars. She’d also visit nursing homes, taking flowers with her and talking with the residents. While working in graphic design prior to founding Mustard Seed Jewelry, Marcie loved sharing her wisdom with others who sought her advice on how they could bring their faith into their business.
After 15 years of consistent morning prayers, Marcie was inspired to found Mustard Seed. The first jewelry piece that came to her mind is their “On the Vine” pendant, which you can still find on the store.
Marcie’s grandfather had made jewelry, but she had never crafted it herself. So why the inspiration towards jewelry?
She already had visual talent and worked in graphic design. People would seek Marcie’s advice on color usage, and she knew how to select an outfit and layer things together.
She wore her first prototype jewelry, a mustard seed-infused necklace, around, and people asked her about it and where they could get it. She had made three of these prototypes initially, and likely did not expect a large operation soon. Then a break came.
One of Marcie’s friends showed the necklace to a lead buyer from Aveda, a cosmetics company. This led to a 2000-piece order. The tall and very welcome order taught Marcie valuable lessons on production. Her jewelry was hand-made, so the learning curve was particularly difficult.
With this opportunity to make her mustard-seed jewelry for a large vendor, Marcie began doing with her business what she had dreamed of: sharing her faith and talents with others.
As she explained:
“I mean, it's not like work to me. I just love it, and I get to see the lives that are blessed through it, and there's just nothing greater to me than being able to be a blessing.”
Marcie’s story so far was nearly biblical. A talent beget an inspiration which beget a prototype which beget a large-scale order. Hard work was leading Marcie down the path to success.
Sowing Mustard Seeds
Marcie’s product is physically infused with the philosophy driving her business: the mustard seed. Each piece of jewelry, whether necklace, earring, bracelet, ring, or cuff link has mustard seeds inlaid. When Marcie sells jewelry, she’s quite literally spreading her faith.
The naming was simple:
“I mean in prayer, I felt led one day that [God] shared with me to just call it what it is. And I think in branding and marketing and our companies, we can get too complicated. … And so for me, just calling [it that] … it was so simple but so sweet. … It's mustard seed jewelry.”
For the story behind how Marcie acquired the mustard seeds that she’s still using to this day, give the accompanying podcast a listen!
The name comes from a verse in the Bible that says faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. Marcie connects with this idea because she’s taken small steps her whole life.
“And that's exactly what we're doing,” Marcie said. “I mean, we are we are trying to inspire people ... to have a reminder every day to know that the little things add up to the big things in life and to just keep going and to keep being courageous in their walk.”
When a customer receives a jewelry order it also comes with some dollar bills from Marcie’s personal cash. Called seed cash, it is intended to be used to spread kindness. So you get charity as well as faith with your jewelry.
Every Step (or Seed) Counts
As noted above, Marcie had been talented with visuals since birth, and had had a graphic design career prior to starting Mustard Seed Jewelry. The skills she used and the clientele she worked with inculcated in her wisdom that she uses running Mustard Seed Jewelry, like color arrangement or people management skills. It also reinforced her patience, much needed when arranging jewelry and hundreds of mustard seeds.
Because her graphic design career has proven valuable for her entrepreneur life, Marcie appreciates long-term learning. Thus, since every step of one’s career counts, she wards entrepreneurs from leaving their day-jobs prematurely.
“[P]eople would have this amazing idea for something and then immediately want to quit their job … sometimes that works for people with certain financial backing and all of those things. But if you're really a grassroots entrepreneur I don't recommend that, because you are being seasoned in every detail of every job, every facet of everything you've ever done…
“I feel like God paints a masterpiece in us as we go through our lives. And then when we land on what we feel is our calling, it's like you can look back and go, Oh my gosh, I mean, way back in high school when I was doing this, this is why, this is why I learned that, because now I'm using it here. And I think that's a traditional entrepreneurial journey as well, I mean you really use everything that you've ever learned, when you take that giant leap.”
This is the joy of hindsight when circumstances and efforts align. Marcie would argue that each of us is capable of achieving such success, the mustard seeds she sends out being a reminder to her customers that they have ideas and talents in them that can grow.
Where Miracles Meet Preparedness
For Marcie, who is hard working as much as faith-driven, chance encounters and meetings seem divinely inspired.
A company called The Woodhouse Day Spa had a Fort Worth location and wanted Mustard Seed Jewelry in it. They were taking a chance on Marcie: the spa required that several standards be met in order to work with them, and they also had not allowed other jewelry companies to be in their spas yet.
As luck or divine grace had it, the owner of the whole franchise came to the Fort Worth location at its one-year anniversary. When she saw the jewelry, she wanted to add it to national locations. Mustard Seed has since been in a majority of Woodhouse Day Spa locations and is being added to more still.
In addition to Woodhouse Day, Mustard Seed Jewelry has another national partner: PBS.
While visiting her husband’s family in DC, Marcie was in communication with one of the buyers at PBS. They were interested in warehousing her jewelry. Marcie had just been praying about how she would warehouse it.
“And so I was like … this is just perfect. And so I said, well, let me send you a sample because you need to see what else comes with the jewelry. She didn't know it came with seed cash and note cards and all of that.”
Marcie received the address – turned out it was about 10 minutes from where she was staying in DC. She and the buyer were able to have a convenient coffee together, and that night the buyer was telling Marcie they were good to go for a presentation later that week.
Breaks kept lining up for Marcie. From them lifelong relationships have grown.
“And so it's just, it's like one thing after another … I mean, everyone that's with us, I feel like they are family and friends. And I think that that's important to keep in business.”
But even though Marcie believes God is acting in her life and through her in all these things, she doesn’t just wait for God to make things happen.
As she explains:
“I always tell people it's not, you know, when you get called to something you're not just sitting back and going, ‘Okay, I'm waiting on [God]. He's going to provide’ … I mean, no …You are so fired up about your passion and your gifting and where you've been favored that you are just on fire[.]”
Other entrepreneurs have referenced the saying that luck is where opportunity meets preparedness, or the importance of serendipity. For Marcie, this strike zone of opportunity is where her passion and hard work meets her faith.
Keep Fort Worth Friendly, and Curious
After growing up in Dallas-Fort Worth, Marcie spent 12 years living in Austin. She has since returned to Fort Worth, and while the entrepreneurial community in Austin was “amazing,” she “cannot say enough good things about Fort Worth.”
“I've never been in a city where I felt like people really wanted to nurture your business. And they wanted to see you grow and they wanted to accelerate you in a way that that I've just never seen.”
Fort Worth is a little more curious and less competitive, Marcie has found. She’s enjoyed the city’s collaborative spirit as she’s encountered people who want her to achieve her goal and then witness her unique contribution to the city. It’s a business climate that encourages mutual support so everyone can thrive.
“I loved Austin as well … the entrepreneurial community there is amazing … It was fun to be in that and then come to Fort Worth, but I would say Fort Worth was like Austin years and years ago … I mean, Austin was very friendly and entrepreneurial that way, but they don't grab ahold of you and say, ‘Oh my gosh, she's doing this. Let's go, let's go help her.’ … and I just think Fort Worth has that aspect. I mean, they want to see you thrive and survive.”
Any up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Fort Worth should perhaps tap into the same network Marcie did and maximize on Fort Worth’s friendliness, curiosity, and support.
Running the Marathon
Marcie wore running shoes most of her life. She had been an endurance athlete before she was a graphic designer and had to keep pace – stay on her toes. Her endurance mindset transferred into Mustard Seed Jewelry. Mustard Seed has grown by “200%” every year, and rapid growth requires a marathon-mindset. Every morning, she puts the running shoes back on.
“Now I know why I had running shoes for most of my life,” Marcie said, “because I was going to be keeping up with the pace, and it's a blessing. I wouldn't change it for the world.”
Her practice of quiet morning prayer stems from this. That separate time to herself each morning helps maintain balance.
The rewards of entrepreneurial life have also helped her maintain balance. The endurance pays off because she has opportunity to share the impact of her company with others. The thrill of creating something out of nothing and then sharing it with others inspires her.
“[T]he impact of someone sending me a note and letting me know how much something meant to them or when they opened up our package the particular verse that we included with it was exactly what they needed … And I mean I just I just could not ever anticipate that that would happen with this and people tell me all the time that they never want to take the pieces off.”
Marcie sees her jewelry as a way to share her voice to the world. She’s now working on a fine-metal line so that customers can treasure even more endurable pieces.
“I mean, [God] really wants us to share and encourage each other. And I think that's exactly what this business does. I mean, yes, it's pretty, it's jewelry, but it's way more than just jewelry, and I think that that's what's so significant about what I get to do”
According to Marcie, last year they gave $150,000 to charity, as they give 30% of their profits at all their charitable events.
“I mean that … like to a big company that might not seem like a lot of money. But to us, it's, it's incredible. It's incredible sacrifice, you know, and it's just an example of how we can give and we can be successful.”
Marcie runs the marathon and reaps the rewards. Her long-term mindset, not just in her entrepreneurship but in her career overall, springs from her faith. Her journey is a faith-based marathon, not a race.
For Marcie, the most powerful, all-encompassing emotion in her business and her work is love. Deep, powerful love – the kind that drives us through challenge and dark times – is needed for growth. But to maintain this love long-term is difficult if there is none of the pacing noted above.
According to Marcie, entrepreneurs should not maintain top-speed at all times. There is room for setting projects to the side and creating silence.
As she pointed out, entrepreneurial communities move at rapid-fire pace, but in reflection we can dissect and learn, then re-enter the marathon rejuvenated – an experience that entrepreneurs need. “Reinvention is the name of the game,” Marcie pointed out.
Marcie set her project aside after meeting her husband and having a family. After three years of marriage and raising her child, Marcie picked her business back up, and moved with “Godspeed.” She had respected the need for a pause and to reconnect with the original love behind what she does.
“I've always lived my life through my heart and connecting to the hearts of other people. It's just who I am,” Marcie said. “I feel like, when we deepen with him, and he's really just run this business for the most part, I just feel like I drop further into my heart. And when I get more clear on what he's leading me to do, I can do more for others.”
The all-encompassing love is what drives us through the challenges of each day. Inevitably, through life, as we grow, or our businesses scale, we encounter discomfort and challenge. Marcie has endured it via connections with others, through the heart, and sharing her love and talents with others.
“The greatest thing we can do is love one another,” Marcie said “I mean, that's just, that's what we're called to do. And you have to ask yourself no matter what you create, no matter what you put out there – how are you loving other people? How are you spreading love and inspiration and joy into this world … how do you do that?"
Marcie’s love is sown in her work. Her business and its products are sent out with the intention of spreading love and fulfilling her inner talent. It’s part of a lifelong marathon.
Note: The quotations may have been edited for grammatical purposes and to remove chit-chat phrases ("you know", etc.) or repeated words ("and, and", etc.). The audio in the podcast may have also been edited to remove chit-chat phrases, repeated words or long periods of silence.