Sisters enjoy success of ‘Amen’ apparel line
When twin sisters Shondi and Shayla Woods started to create their Christian-based apparel line, The Amen Collection, they had no idea whether anyone would buy their wares.
God had placed it on their heart to create an assortment of T-shirts and hats, with the simple message of “amen” printed across the front.
To their surprise, since launching on August 1, the collection has nearly sold out.
“We're just thankful God has allowed us to carry this word to other people,” Shondi said.
“He gave us the vision to do it earlier this year and we were obedient to that call. Now within the first week of launching, we are nearly sold out and it's mind-blowing. We are surprised, but yet at the same time we're not because when God does things, He does it well.”
The word “amen” has particular importance to the girls.
“There's something about the word ‘amen' that I love,” Shondi said. “It's God's word. It means ‘it is so' and is something God tells us to use.”
They were especially inspired by a passage of scripture from 2 Corinthians 1:20.
“It says: ‘The promises of God are yes and amen,” Shayla said. “For me that means, although many of us go through this struggle, wondering whether our dreams and visions will come to pass, we shouldn't get discouraged because He is God and He is in our tomorrow. He is the only one who knows what the future holds.
“We need to stop telling God how to be God — and just let him be God. We need to trust in His timing.”
The 29-year-olds have been passionate about their faith for as long as they can remember.
“Before our mom found out she was carrying twins, she said to God: ‘If you bless me with two, I will bring them up in your house,” Shayla said.
“We have been in church in those pumpkin seats since we were two weeks old, so we've been Christians all our lives.”
When the girls were in their late teens — when most tend to stray away from the church — they found that their relationship with Christ was strengthening.
“That was my defining moment where there was no turning back,” Shayla said.
That is when the sisters stopped looking at Christianity as a religion and started seeing it as a relationship.
“Around 18 or 19 years old is when I started to really know God and talk to him like a friend,” Shondi said. “Some people think we need to speak holy, like ‘Oh God thou art', but we have a relationship with Him where we understand His language and He speaks to me and Shayla both differently.
“I'm a visual person, so He speaks to me visually.”
For instance, when it came time to start this collection, God began to give Shondi clear hints as to what He wanted the Amen logo to look like.
She created a basic design, then asked local artist Carlos Santana Dill to draw it more accurately.
They later had it digitalised by Ming & Co.
Shayla, a local gospel singer, got on board with overseeing the business and production side of things.
“I originally wanted to create this line for myself, so I could wear my own hats and shirts,” Shondi explained. “But then I went into Shayla's room one night and I approached her and said, ‘What do you think about starting an Amen line; a collection?' And immediately it stuck.
“What God challenged us to do is to get back to the root of it all — the fact that if God said it, it is so.”
Since the preparation phase for the collection started, it has been all smooth sailing.
Next on their agenda? Expanding the collection and turning it into an international brand.
“We've already been able to ship to parts of the US, Canada and the UK,” Shondi said. “For us, we didn't just want to reach those in the Church and those who are Christians. These are God's promises for everyone, so let's stand firm on that. A lot of people who are unbelievers still say the word Amen. We say our grace and prayers before eating and follow that with ‘Amen'. We still believe in that word. Even if they don't believe in it or know what it means, they say it.”
Part proceeds from every sale of The Amen Collection will go to local charities and to people in need.
“It's not just about making money and running with it,” Shayla said. “We really want to give back and this is a positive way to do that. With our very first sale, we were able to bless someone else.
“Our shirts are $25 and a lady gave us the money for her shirt, but as we walked out the door, this homeless man came up to us and asked for some change, so we gave him $5. We were able to help someone from the very first sale.
“And the people we are going to bless, we want to help them and make them smile. But the crazy thing is it's helping us more because we are giving back to them and that feels good. We have a lot of charities in mind. There are a lot of people within our church [New Creation Worship Centre] that have medical expenses and I just can't wait to see their eyes light up when we can give them a cheque.”
Working on this collection has reminded them of two important lessons: you have to be patient and you have to be obedient to God's voice.
“It's one thing when God tells you to do something,” Shondi said. “A lot of people don't like to necessarily be in the forefront. You are putting yourself out there and now you have to carry yourself in a different way because you are being looked at maybe a little more closely.
“I'm not really the one that does the speaking, but this is forcing me to interact more with people and just have a love for people.
“And what better way than to have my partner, my twin, by me to carry this mandate? We want this to go viral. We want to play our part to get the gospel heard.”