Who are you? & can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi there! My name is Heidi VanderWal and I am the founder of Crowned Free. I was born and raised in West Michigan where I currently live with my husband Mark, and our three fabulous kids: Crew, Mcguire, and Preslie. My background is in Direct Sales and I was a top selling Director for one of the nation’s largest jewelry companies from 2001 to 2016. I loved everything about it! I have an entrepreneurial spirit and heart for supporting other women. My love for fashion is overshadowed only by my desire to help other women find their ‘sparkle.’ I have a passion for helping woman look and feel beautiful from the inside out.
Some of my favorite things: Shopping, shopping, and more shopping! I love to hunt for deals and could spend an entire day treasure hunting if time allowed. I love all things fancy and frilly. I’m head over heels for anything with lace or tulle on it! My favorite color is pink. I love fresh-cut flowers—daisies are my favorite. My favorite time of day is mornings. I love to start my day in my cozy pink chair with my journal, iPod, and Bible.
What exactly is Crowned Free?
Crowned Free is a Direct Selling company that empowers women to become social entrepreneurs by selling clothing, jewelry and accessories at Pop-Up Shops, styling their friends and spreading the passion to put an end to human trafficking. When you shop our collection, host a Pop-Up Shop or become a Representative, you join us in creating sustainable jobs and lifesaving educational opportunities for victims of human trafficking.
What inspired you to start Crowned Free?
About eight years ago God told me that he would give me an idea for a business of my own. I had no idea what that business would be, but I started praying about it then. About that same time, I heard a speaker at a women’s event share about human trafficking here in my home town. I was shocked at what I heard. I had no idea that young boys and girls were being trafficked so close to home. My impression was that it mostly happened in far off lands overseas. I was moved and wanted to do something to help but had no idea how or what. Nearly four years later at the end of January 2014 I woke up five mornings in a row with this fashion accessory idea. I was convinced that this was the idea I was waiting for. This was the very business I had been praying about for years. I remember the intersection I was driving through when the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear to attach this business to a cause. I knew right away that the cause was fighting human trafficking.
How did you come up with the name?
The simple answer is that it’s a total God story. When we began praying about the name of our company, we started seeing crowns everywhere. I would wake up with the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” running through my head and had multiple dreams about crowns. I was seeing crowns literally everywhere! We were convinced that our new logo needed to be a crown. God told us our name through a very powerful dream. In that dream there was a beauty pageant happening and only one girl was going to get the crown. The girls had to compete for the crown by performing and it had to be earned. But God said that in his kingdom his crown is freely given. You don’t have to work for it–all you need to do is receive it. Hence the name Crowned Free!
Your support and empower survivors of human trafficking, can you tell us about that?
Crowned Free gives back in two different ways. The first way is by financially supporting organizations in the United States and internationally who work to restore, rescue, and rehabilitate survivors. The second way Crowned Free gives back is by creating sustainable jobs for girls who have been rescued to make over half of our products. This opportunity equips survivors with vocational skills they can use to provide for themselves and their families.
Is there a favorite product?
Oh, that is a fun question! And it’s a hard question! I would have to say that my favorite item from our collection right now is our Gratitude Sweatshirt. It’s super cozy and comfy and I wear it way too much!
What is your favorite part about running Crowned Free?
Crowned Free brings so much joy and beauty to my life. Every day I get to work with phenomenal, passionate women who want to change the world and be a part of ending the horrors and injustices of human trafficking. I love having a front row seat to see how God is moving so powerfully in hearts. Too see our representatives embracing and using this direct sales platform to change lives is overwhelming to say the least. I love our customers, Representatives, and organizations we’ve partnered with so far.
What is your least favorite part about running Crowned Free?
The hardest part of running Crowned Free is seeing the need that is out there and not being able to do more. The stories are so tragic and just break your heart. These stories are what drive us to grow Crowned Free so that we can support more organizations who are rescuing, restoring, and rebuilding the lives of survivors and give sustainable jobs to young men and women around the world!
How do you spread the word about your company?
Our Crowned Free Representatives are critical in spreading the word. Each Rep can not only share their personal “Why” story, but also inform their customers and hostesses on why their purchase means so much! We truly believe we are creating a movement that’s making a difference in those who have been trafficked. Social media is also an amazing tool to help spread the word about our company. We are so grateful to our followers who are passionate about our mission and do an amazing job sharing our posts to help us get the word out there!
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Treasure hunt every day. There are treasures to be found along the way– even on the hard days. It might come in the form of a tough lesson learned but those are valuable lessons! A little grit and grace don’t hurt either! Those words are so significant to me that I designed a t-shirt with those words printed on it.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
I sure do! This quote has been one of my favorites over the years. “Jump and build your wings on the way down!” I think this is a perfect depiction of the life of an entrepreneur. It takes a whole lot of courage and faith to jump off that cliff without all the pieces in place, but oh what an adventure and ride it is!
How does one become a rep for crowned free?
We would love for you to join our tribe of purpose driven, empowered, fun and passionate woman here at Crowned Free! Getting started is easy at https://crownedfree.com/join/.