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Category Archives: Friday Interviews

The Community of Beards: An Interview With Beard Sauce

Megan and Daniel are the creators of a new product called Beard Sauce. When we spoke they were in the midst of crowd-funding their new small business and have since finished that campaign and launched the company. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and I hope you will too!

Tell my readers a little bit about you guys.

Megan: I met him when I was in school in South Carolina and I was friends with this hardcore band. I would hang out with them and travel with them. I met Daniel because he was in this other hardcore band that would sometimes play with them and travel with them – so that was how I met him, but we actually didn’t really talk to each other or even really become friends until 2009. He liked one of my best friends, and I liked another person and so we became close.

Daniel: We both became friends because we were like, “Why won’t the people that we like like us back?”

Megan: So that kind of turned into…we got together. So our story is kind of fun. He’s an audio engineer at our local music shop.

Daniel: It’s a music shop and sound company. So we have a store and we do outside stage productions. I’m an in house engineer.

Megan: Since we’ve been married I’ve done a lot of things here and there. While I was pregnant and for the first year of Abram’s life I didn’t work, I was a stay at home mommy. I was kind of re-entering the workforce last year. I worked with Daniel at a sign company for a couple hours a week. Then I hopped on staff at my church to be the Creative Arts Director last October. It doesn’t pay, so all of our income was coming from Daniel. Recently though, I felt like I needed to apply to Starbucks because I’d worked there previously. I got the job about an hour after I interviewed. It’s been great because it’s part time, I work in the morning, I open, so I’m done by 11 a.m. So it’s kind of funding our lives while we do this Beard Sauce thing.

That’s so great! It also brings us to what we’re talking about: What is Beard Sauce?

Daniel: Beard Sauce – the short is that it’s a beard conditioner that she created for me.

I’d had a beard for…I guess 2005 was the first time I realized, “Holy crap I can grow a full beard”. So I’ve had one since then just depending on what job I’ve had. If I couldn’t have it I’d just shave it, whatever. If I could have it, I’ve had one since then. The problem I would have is that I would get dry skin un the beard and the dry skin would flake and I’d get beard dandruff [“beardruff”] on my shirt and especially if it was a dark colored shirt it was just a bad day. And it was inevitably going to itch, it didn’t matter what kind of shampoo, conditioner, or soap I used it was just always going to itch. So, she’d gotten into some home cosmetic type stuff and it was all oil based to begin with – facial and hair treatments – and so for kicks she decided to try and make something and see if it helped. And after a few days I realized, “Holy cow I’d gone through the whole day and it hadn’t itched at all.”

So then we got some friends using it to try it out and thought, “Holy cow, we might be able to sell this stuff!” So she started doing a little market research to see what was out there that was just beard specific products. We knew there were moustache waxes and stuff like that.

Megan: And there are different brands of oils for beards, there’s just not a lot, and they’re all really, really obscure and so expensive. And super hipster – you really have to search to find it, and then it costs $60 a bottle. One of the things that separates Beard Sauce from others is that you don’t have to have a special beard shampoo or conditioner and then you can use the beard oil. You can use straight up Dial – whatever you want to wash your beard and Beard Sauce does the rest for you. So you don’t have to invest in a lot, and you get a really great beard. It’s an all-in-one product.

So Daniel had this beard, this itchy beard, you made the product and then you tried it with some friends. What happened from there, after you had friends try it out?

Megan: After we had friends try it out and say they liked it we actually just left it alone for a little while. I don’t know exactly why, but I know I’ve always struggled with fear and that keeps me from pursing things. So I didn’t think we could do it – I was being a quitter and just really lame.

Then the local Moustache and Beard club was doing a booth at a Father’s day festival so I brought some of the Sauce and put it up on their table. I used baby food jars and just drew the logo on! It was raw, not attractive, and people were interested in it. We also gave out samples at 4th of July.

Daniel: That was after we’d made up our mind that we could do something with this, so let’s start to and give out some samples. Was that after that…?

Megan: It was a few days after that – I was having a really overwhelming week and not even thinking about a kickstarter campaign or anything and I just didn’t know how we were going to do this without getting money from somewhere – I was being prideful and didn’t want to do a campaign.

I ended up watching this TED talk about a girl who’s a musician and started asking her fans for things and doing stuff in return and it turned into this huge following that was successful and that was when I realized we needed to do this.

Then the Start Experiment started. You’re in the Start Experiment, right?

Yeah, I saw the tweet about it and thought, “That sounds like it could be crazy. So, yeah.”

Megan: YEAH! And the thing is, I hadn’t been on twitter for months and for some reason I just got on that night and was like, “What is this?” So I sent the e-mail not thinking I’d get anything back, and then I got his e-mail.

It’s pretty much changed my life. Beard Sauce wouldn’t be where it is without the START Experiment. We wouldn’t be having this conversation.

So, how has Jon and the START Experiment played into all this?

Megan: I’ve been following Jon for years – back since the early days of Stuff Christians Like. I think he’s brilliant and hilarious.

When the START Experiment started and we had that week where nothing was really going on – we were all just talking to each other. I was thinking, “I don’t know about this,” but then we started our indiegogo campaign and about three minutes after we launched it I put a link up on our FB page that said, “Alright, here’s my START!” and there was just a flood of comments full of love and encouragement. The first donor was someone from the START Experiment.

Then I met Melissa [our mutual friend], who is the coolest person ever, and knows so much, and has been so helpful.

It’s been a really big deal, the amount of exposure we’ve gotten, because of the Experiment.

You guys did an indiegogo. Was there any reason you picked them over kickstarter or someone else?

Megan: Kickstarter doesn’t allow any kind of beauty or cosmetic products. I read through their policies, and that was one of the only things you can’t do a kickstarter for.

Your indiegogo did just get fully funded way before the deadline though, right?

Megan: Yeah, seven days before the deadline.

Wow! Does it still go on? I know you don’t get funds unless you get fully funded, but does that mean you can’t go over the goal?

Megan: No, we can go as far as we want and on the last day it stops.

What does that feel like? To know you not only have the funding, but you have it early and will likely get more? When you saw that, what were you thinking?

Megan: I was actually asleep because I had to get up really early the next morning and I was really upset because I wanted to see it when it happened. He was the one who actually saw it.

Daniel: When it was coming down to it I just knew it was going to happen because it was so close. It would have been a little more climactic if we’d been at $1,500 and we logged on and someone had given $500.

I saw that it was gradually creeping up – it was still awesome when I did see it though. Just the fact that people had responded. We just said “Hey let’s try and do it by midnight, because we’re on the way,” so people just decided, “We’re going to help them.”

Megan: They were probably tired of hearing about it! We’d been posting about it on twitter all day every day.

I saw that, I really enjoyed following the campaign. You mentioned the local beard and moustache club had a booth at the Father’s day festival…is there a beard community? Is that a thing?

Megan: Yes. It’s all over the country – well, all over the world right now. Your local beard and moustache club. There’s probably one where you live, because we live in a small town.

Daniel: Our group isn’t huge. There’s about five or six of us. They have great intentions though. The guy who started it started it because he wanted – well he likes beards – but he wanted to give back to the community. They haven’t grown a ton, but it is a good excuse to get together and talk and have beards.

Megan: My hope is to be able to help them. Now that we have a little bit of an audience I want to help them grow.

Is the beard community a newer thing? Or is it just that it’s more recently gaining popularity?

Megan: I think it’s both.

Daniel: It’s not a new thing. The whole competition Beard and Moustache thing has been going on for a while. Beard clubs and stuff like that. It’s definitely become a little more mainstream, so you hear about it a little more right now. You’re seeing more interaction online through social media about it because of stuff like Duck Dynasty, and Axe men – big time shows. And that’s even mainstream subculture because they’re these country guys doing their thing.

On the other side of things, you have your big-time celebrities. I read an article that said something about beards being on their way out because George Clooney and Ben Afleck had these beards at some award show. Not huge beards, but beards, and they haven’t had them in the past. The article was saying they’re on the way out because Clooney isn’t going to wear one anymore, but the subculture is still going to be there.

Megan: Beards are going to stand the test of time.

Daniel: There’s plenty of people out there, I’m one – think back to the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century, businessmen, political leaders, men had beards. Huge beards. Everyone had ‘em. Things come back around – I think it would be awesome to see a president with a bead again.

Megan: With a product that makes having a beard easier and inexpensive then I think it will make beard life a lot easier, and everyone will want one.

Megan you mentioned to me about how community has been important to you guys, can you talk about that?

Megan: 2013 has been all about community for us. Redefining that word through our church, and everything we do.

Daniel: Our church is big on community and we promote community groups.

Megan: In our personal lives we spend a lot of time together. Helping each other, fighting with each other.

Daniel: It’s because of that, trying to live like the church in Acts. We don’t live on a compound together, but we are living life together and holding each other accountable. It can be financial, spiritual, whatever – just being there for one another.

Through the discipline of “let’s be in community together” we’ve really come to appreciate community. At first it’s not a fun thing because you’re going, “We have to take a day out of my week to go talk with people that we’re not really friends with, but we’re becoming friends with…” but we slowly started building these relationships.

Megan: So when we approach things now, we approach it with “How can we approach this as a community?” That’s my hope for Beard Sauce. That we create a community for people with beards – but also for people without them.

The purpose for Beard Sauce is to create the best beard product out there, but also to fund community restorative projects. We want to start right away promoting community by helping community. If we communicate that clearly and well from the beginning then hopefully people will want to jump on.

I love that. I think it’s important. I think we compartmentalize our communities of work, church, friends, and I like that you guys are figuring out how all your communities can come together.

Daniel: It’s been really interesting to see. I was looking yesterday and saw on our twitter followers and a lot of them are from the START Experiment and a lot of them are Christians. So on their bio or whatever it will say “Child of God”, or what have you.

But then you look at the other half of our followers and they’re these beard clubs and bearded folks and a lot of them are decidedly not Christian and opposed to it. You can see it in their descriptions too. “Atheist and proud” or something like that. So we’re establishing relationships on both sides of the spiritual spectrum.

Why do you think it’s important that your faith influence the things we’re doing that aren’t inherently faith driven? Like starting a small business.

Megan: Our faith is our identity. Our identity is in Christ, so in everything we do we’re going to approach it with that mindset. At this point in my life it’s impossible to separate spirituality from everything else I do.

Yes this is a business. Yes we want to sell a product. It’s not worth compromising what we believe in though.

Daniel: One big thing I’ve thought about with all this is that in the beard community there’s almost an alienation of people who don’t have beards. Some guys don’t have beards because they don’t want to grow one; some guys don’t have beards because their wives won’t let them have one, some guys just can’t grow beards. A lot of these beard enthusiasts tend to alienate people who don’t have them with jokes – are a funny – but like, “If you don’t have a beard, you’re not a man”.

Melissa: And that’s not true!

Daniel: And just the idea that beards are manliness, and if you don’t have a good beard how are you going to be a man? If you don’t have one, grow one so you can be a man. The jokes can be funny, but they’re not at all true.

There’s a lot of adult little boys who are out there with beards. Something I’m really passionate about is men stepping up and being men. Whether you have or can grow a beard doesn’t matter. Especially when it comes to family. I try to put Christ above my family because I will then be a better husband and father. If I’m not worshipping him first then I’m worshipping her, or my son, and they’re not God and they’re going to fail me and I’m going to be disappointed.

So that’s me spiritually and what I believe. Whether you’re a Christian or not I think that what a man should do for his wife is universal. If your wife isn’t satisfied then examine yourself and make sure you’re not a part of the reason. And the same with being a dad, looking at that and figuring out what it means to be a dad and a man. I obviously have my Christian view of what that looks like, but there’s also some universal truths to what a dad’s responsibility to his kids are.

I’m excited because I think I’ll be able to use Beard Sauce as a platform to talk about those things, and not alienate people without beards. Just being able to communicate that just because you have a beard doesn’t make you a man, but also just because you don’t have one doesn’t mean you’re not.

Megan: Beard doesn’t equal man!

Daniel: Just being able to say, “Here is what a man should do.” I’m not claiming to have figured it out by any means, but I know that I fight for being a better husband and father. But I know people who are friends of mine that I would ask, “Are you really working and fighting to be the best husband and father you can be? Or are you just settling?”

In my short time talking with you guys I can tell that your faith is important to what you’re doing, and I love that. It makes me want to grow a beard to use your product, or buy it for the beard haver in my life!

Megan: You can also use it to shave with! It is for everyone – you could even wash your face with it! We’re to work on cross marketing it that way as well.

You’ve got your product, you’re funded, when and where can people get Beard Sauce?

Megan: Because it’s completely funded we’ve started getting money in our paypal – we don’t have to wait until the last day. We’re going to start ordering stuff to make the product right away.

Our goal is to launch the website on August 1st. BeardSauce.me, so “beard sauce me”. So we’re be open for business in less than a week.

Daniel: That’s our goal for that, but it will probably be around the end of August before the product is shipping. We have to do a first initial run of a lot of it. We have to make sure the distributers of our ingredients are in stock.

Megan: I know we’re going to hit some bumps in the road because this is all the first time we’ve done it on this scale. Hopefully everyone will be really understanding and gracious.

There’s this lady I follow on instagram who makes hand-made moccasins for kids. Kim Kardashian ordered a pair of them off of her Etsy site and she exploded! It took months for her to get shipments out because she was hand making them! She had to get a bunch of friends who sewed and sew day and night for weeks. She just kept apologizing and working.

So people can find you guys on August 1st at www.beardsauce.me; where else can people find you?

Megan: Facebook.com/beardsauce, twitter.com/beardsauce, we’re working to get the name on instagram right now. We’d made ourselves a brand and gotten the other names and then a week later that handle showed up on instagram.

Daniel: Facebook and twitter are the biggest things, we’re going to try for instagram, and we got the vine just in case.

Megan: Once we make a bit of a profit we’ll probably pay a friend to handle the social media side of things for us. We want to have a big social media presence, but it’s a lot of work.

One last question Daniel: What advice do you have for the aspiring beard grower?

Daniel: The biggest thing is just to stop shaving. Don’t try to shape it unless you have to for work or something. If you’re not careful with the shaping you’re going to end up with a chinstrap and that’s not what you’re going for. Other than that, you just have to push through the itchy stage-

Megan: But not with Beard Sauce!

Daniel: If you can get a month in without doing anything to it you’ll be set to start shaping it and pick a style and everything. Be careful with your mustache. It’s going to curl and get in the way and you’ll want to trim it. The size of the mustache helps the way the beard looks – if you have a big full mustache then your beard is going to look fuller.

Then, just being mindful of the crumbs and water droplets you’re going to get.

Thanks for taking the time to read – I hope you’ll check out and connect with Megan, Daniel, and Beard Sauce.

Grace & Peace,

Stippick

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Friday Interviews

 

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What A Day It Has Been

Friends,

I’m way bummed with the info I have for you right now.

Most of the time my posts and interviews are done at least a day or two ahead of schedule so that when Life happens it doesn’t interrupt our conversation. That just wasn’t the case this week.

I got the opportunity yesterday to talk to Daniel and Megan Webb who have this sweet product called Beard Sauce. I worked on the transcript a bit last night before falling asleep and intended to finish it this morning before wrapping up details to take my students to camp tomorrow.

When I got to the office we were having new printers installed, found out we were having network issues, and I had a few curve balls thrown at me for camp. As the day went on I worked on the transcript here and there at the office and my house. Finally I was close to done and went to save the draft…only to realize, just after clicking the mouse button, that I had no internet connection.

I lost 3/4 of what I had written.

Basically, if I was an overly emotional teen girl I’d have cried for the 18th time today.

But I’m not.

I got a hold of my friend Melissa, who introduced me to Daniel and Megan and let her know what was going on. Then I got a hold of Daniel and Megan to talk about a game plan.

Transcribing recorded interviews takes me about 2-3 hours right now since I’m still fairly new to it, and by the time I’d get the post fully done tonight it wouldn’t get the attention they deserve for it to have.

I’ll continue to work on it this week and share it with you guys next Friday. In the mean time you guys should do the following:

  1. Follow them on twitter.
  2. Like them on facebook.
  3. Check out and donate their indiegogo campaign.

Daniel and Megan have been incredibly understanding and gracious to me throughout today and I can’t thank them enough.

I’m so grateful for them, and for you. Without you there is no conversation, and this is a conversation I’ve grown highly fond of over the last few months.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for growing with me.

Grace & Peace,

Stippick

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Friday Interviews

 

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Who Is The Amish Hipster: An Interview With Josh Hostetler

Josh Hostetler is a fairly new friend. We met this week in an “experiment” put on by Jon Acuff. We’ve spent some time talking and getting to know each other and I knew pretty quickly that I had to feature him on the blog for you guys; Josh has a pretty cool story and I’m really excited to share it! Be sure to connect with him through his social media accounts provided at the end of this interview.

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Hey! My name is Josh Hostetler, and I am the man behind the Amish Hipster. I live in Austin, Texas, but I am not allergic to gluten. Before I moved to Austin, I grew up in Sarasota, Fl, graduated from the University of Florida, and  lived in Mexico and Guatemala.

Before we begin this interview, I think some definitions would be helpful. I found these at http://religionstylebook.com/entries/category/christianity/amishmennonite

Anabaptist: A Christian movement rooted in the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists believe in baptism for adults only, nonresistance, the separation of church and state, and simplicity. Early Anabaptists believed they should live separated from the world around them. The best-known Anabaptist churches in the United States are the Amish and Mennonite. In the 1600s, many Swiss Anabaptists fled religious persecution from Germany and Switzerland to the United States.

Amish: The Amish, descendants of the Swiss Anabaptists, are known for their distinctive, plain clothes as well as their commitment to rejecting modern technology, including in some cases cars and electricity. They base their morals and way of life on the Bible, which they interpret literally, and on unwritten rules known as the Ordnung.

Mennonite: Mennonites trace their origins to the Swiss Anabaptist movement of the 16th century. Today, there are several kinds of Mennonite communities in North America. Old Order Mennonites are quite similar to the Amish in dress and rejection of modern conveniences, but many other Mennonites wear contemporary clothing, live in urban communities and are distinguished chiefly by a commitment to social justice and the peace movement. One Mennonite church can be very different from another Mennonite church, just as two Baptist churches can be very different from each other.

Your mom and dad were raised Amish and Mennonite respectively. Both in the same county in Ohio. But never met until they both happened to move to Sarasota, Florida. First of all, that’s crazy! Did they leave that “lifestyle” behind, or find something similar there?

To be exact, my mother grew up in an Amish household, and my dad grew up in a conservative Mennonite household. Prior to moving to Florida, my mom left the Amish lifestyle*. However, my mom and dad both joined a Mennonite church in Sarasota, Fl. It is very common for Amish people to join a Mennonite church after leaving the Amish. The theology is similar, but Mennonites can use cars, electricity, etc. So it was similar, but definitely different.

*Many people ask if my mom was “shunned” by her family. My grandparents were a part of New Order Amish who do not shun family members that leave, and I have many great memories of spending summers on grandma and grandpa’s farm. I’m blessed to be a part of the Kaufman and Hostetler families.

What did that mean for your social upbringing? Were you raised fully in that culture?

I grew up in Bethel Mennonite church in Sarasota, Florida. Bethel is part of the Conservative Mennonite conference, but my church experience is probably very similar to others who grew up in a church. I went to Sunday School, I got grass stains on my pants playing football after church, and we drove to church in cars. Some differences were many of the women wore head coverings, our worship team didn’t have a drummer for most of my childhood, and my family’s Sunday dinner was probably better than everyone else’s. That last part is definitely true.

I’m also not an incredible dancer, and I would like to blame this on growing up in a culture that does not promote dancing.

Your twitter bio boasted at one point of “leaving the buggies behind”. Is that real, or a joke, or both…?

I’ve always lived in the land of gas-powered vehicles. There aren’t any buggies that I know of in Sarasota, Fl.

How much of the Amish/Mennonite/“conservative” background is still a part of your life today?

Amish/Mennonite is similar to Judaism in the following aspect. Judaism has an ethnic identity and a faith identity.

First, Anabaptists have an ethnic identity. Some names you might find in a Mennonite church directory are Beachy, Hostetler, Miller, Swartzentruber, Schlabach, Yoder, etc. Whenever I meet someone who has an Anabaptist background, we often play the Mennonite game: trying to figure out which friends or family we have in common. I once dated a Mennonite girl and I made her check to see if we were related. She was an acceptable 8th cousin. These are the problems we face.

On a personal spiritual level, I identify myself first as a sinner saved by the grace of God, and as someone who aims to reflect Christ’s love to the people I interact with. I am very proud of my Mennonite heritage, and it’s theology influences me strongly in certain areas, specifically non-resistance. However, I do like to attempt this thing people call dancing and I do love Shiner beers. I don’t think anything’s wrong with dancing or drinking, nor do I judge those that do. Those are just my personal beliefs.

So, after college you taught in Mexico for a year. What led to that decision?

I worked with my dad’s construction crew every summer after 7th grade. Many of dad’s workers were Hispanic, and they treated me like a little brother. They’d pass chile pepper sandwiches at lunch time, and make me eat them because “American men aren’t very macho because they don’t eat chile peppers.” As a result of these chile pepper sandwiches,  I became a self-described macho man and developed a strong love for the Spanish language and the people of Central America. I double majored in Spanish at the University of Florida, and decided I would live in a Central American country after college.

What was it like?

I taught English in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. The people of Los Mochis are super hospitable. My church practically adopted me as one of their sons. They would invite me to their homes for dinner after lessons. Oh, and the food of Los Mochis is delicious. Every night I would eat an amazing meal for less than $5. It was a great nine months, and I’m fortunate to still stay in contact with them through Facebook. I have yet to find a good carne asada in Austin that can compare with Los Mochis.

And now you’ve been in Austin for a few years. That’s three pretty different cultures…what’s the adjustment, or culture shock, process been like?

I love Austin. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. Except for the occasional head twist when the thong guy rides his bike past me, there’s been relatively little culture shock.

What’s been the easiest part?

I live in a city where creativity is encouraged. There is no race “to finish life first”. Back home, most of my friends are married or are already set on a career track that they will probably follow for the rest of their lives. Many of my Austin friends have left secure jobs in order to pursue their dreams. I find that inspiring and contagious.

The hardest part?

I’m one of four siblings, the four J’s as we call ourselves. They all live in Florida, as do my parents, and I do wish I lived much closer to them. I really do. I might move back one day to be closer to my family.

The church you go to now in Austin, Vox Veniae, I would imagine is a little different than the church you grew up in. What drew you to it?

The first time I went to Vox, I went with a girl I was dating to hear her housemate speak. I immediately felt I had entered a church that really valued community. It’s on the east side of Austin, a traditionally rougher side of the city, and Vox strives to be a light in the community. Many of our members live on the East side, as we feel it’s important to live in the community we serve. Vox also has a culture that encourages questioning, yet we believe in truths. That’s huge to me. There’s a significant amount of diversity in our church, as we were founded by the Austin Chinese immigrant church, but have attracted many forlorn white hipsters. It’s an interesting mix to say the least.

How do those differences work out in your personal faith life?

I’ve seen a lot of different types of churches. I grew up in a Mennonite church, worked with Church of Christ churches in Honduras, attended a Presbytarian church in college, a non-denominational church in Mexico, a reformed church in Austin, and now Vox Veniea. God has shown me that he is present in many different churches, despite our differences. From personal experience, I would rather pay attention to the people inside as opposed to the name outside the church.

Your twitter handle is @amishhipster, do you consider yourself a hipster? Has the Austin culture given you a bent towards that?

I’m totally not a hipster but many of my friends would disagree. I still eat bread and meat.

Ok, so…tell me about the Amish Hipster. There’s a twitter, there’s going to be a blog. What’s he about?

AmishHipster.com is a humor blog, written through the eyes of Abe Beachy, a pretentious Amishman. Just as hipsters are pretentious, Abe Beachy is a very pretentious Amishman. He was the first one to think of growing a beard. He doesn’t understand the point of hitting a home run if you can’t make your own bat. When he went through a goth phase in middle school, he wore black hats every day. In this blog, Abe Beachy has moved from Holmes County, Ohio to Austin, Texas to escape all his Amish brethren and discover the hipster lifestyle in Austin. He’s disgusted to find that the Austin hipsters seem to be copying his style as well. The blog will be where he writes his discoveries. On the blog, you’ll encounter journal entries, answers to letters back home,  and other written stories, all written by “Abe Beachy”. Ya’ll will love him, he’s hilarious. He won’t really care if you read the blog though.

There’s a show called “Breaking Amish”, and another called “Amish Mafia”. In those shows and in other media outlets are the Amish people given a fair portrayal?

When I dream big about amishhipster.com, I often dream of changing the national conversation about the Amish. These reality TV shows take young Amish and test their faith in front of a public audience. Can you imagine a “Breaking Christian”, “Breaking Judaism”, or a “Breaking Muslim” being approved for national TV? I can’t either. Imagine Muslim youth being tempted with pork in front of a national audience. We wouldn’t stand for it;  we shouldn’t stand for “Breaking Amish” either. I have so much respect for them and their faith. They are taken advantage of as a community because, well, they aren’t connected to the world like most other minority groups are. But you know what TLC? They’ve been boycotting your shows the entire time. As well as the rest of television.

How well do they respect the Amish folks they’re interacting with, or the Amish community at large?

To be honest, I have only watched “Amish in the City”, and I just watched one episode. I refuse to support the companies that produce their shows. In general, they treat the Amish like animals at the zoo. They seem to care very little about the Amish culture. Many of these reality TV people have left the Amish church a long time ago or are portraying completely false characters. I’m looking at you Amish Mafia.

In 2013 with all of the technology and Social Media that is such a huge part of so many first world cultures how viable is the Amish way of life?

It’s viable but you do have to make some sacrifices. For example, I have an Amish uncle who is an accountant. While he uses a computer at the workplace, he doesn’t use technology at home. Some Amish follow this practice. By not using as much technology, the Amish are great stewards of their money.

This is just my curiosity at work here…is that something you can…”get into”? Or do you have to be born into that community or way of life?

I know Amish missionaries that are in Haiti. They believe in spreading the gospel; they would love for people to join them. However, the Amish are a very unique community so it could seem difficult for an “outsider’ to “fit in” immediately.

Are there principles or ideals from the Amish and Mennonite communities that we can begin to work into our lives to…slow down a bit?

Pick one day each week and make it an “Amish sabbath”. Just rest and relax with your loved ones, and forget Facebook for the day. Have you ever tried shutting your phone off for a couple days? It’s a great feeling.

By living in communities and forsaking technology, the Amish entertain themselves by visiting with neighbors and loved ones. I have never seen a homeless Amish person. If one of their neighbors is struggling, the whole community knows and helps them get back on their feet. It is very difficult to grow up Amish and not feel a part of a community. We could definitely learn from this.

Anything else you want to share?

Look out for the launch of AmishHipster.com next week, hopefully by Friday. I want to have a lot of posts done in advance so I can see where the story of the Amish Hipster is going.

Also, thanks! This was fun.

Where can folks connect with you online?

twitter: @AmishHipster

instagram: @AmishHipster

blog: http://www.AmishHipster.com

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Friday Interviews

 

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Honesty In Music: An Interview With Courtney Officer

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Well, I am a Junior Elementary Education Major at Howard Payne University. I was raised in the North and now live in the South. At the end of the school year I realized that I had always said that if I could support myself making music, I would. And so I decided to try. I just finished my first EP and am both excited and terrified to see where this adventure takes me!

What kind of music would you say you play? If you had to put it in a “genre” what would it be?

Oh man, this is always a hard question for me to answer! I would like to say my music includes folk, indie, acoustic singer/songwriter elements. My music is pretty simple. I am drawn to a more raw open sound in music which I would say is shown in the style of my music.

I know you play guitar, do you play anything else? If so, what?

Yes, I also play the piano. Actually the piano is the only instrument that I have had lessons and training in and I just completed a music minor in piano. I also taught myself bass for a little while just because our worship team needed a bassist. But that didn’t last long. Bass just wasn’t my thing. I enjoy playing both the piano and guitar for different reasons. With the guitar I feel a little bit more freedom mainly because I haven’t had lessons so I don’t really have rules that limit me while the piano is a challenge and opens me up to some amazing composers!

You recently played a live show in Stephenville, and you’ve played at the coffee house we run a few times; what’s your favorite part about performing live?

Yeah, I’ve had a lot more performance opportunities over the past year! I’ve played at several coffee shops and restaurants and even a Relay For Life and each experience has been completely different! I think that’s one thing that I love about performing live; it’s never the same experience twice!

Personally, I love going to live shows because not only is it just an awesome experience but music is completely different when shared in an intimate setting! I especially love when the performer talks about their music and inspiration.

Recently I have tried to make a conscious effort to talk about my music when I’m performing. It just makes it more personal! I really just love to play music and if people want to listen to me it makes it all the better!

Is there a worst part about it?

Well, one thing I did have to get over was the fact that not everyone always wants to listen. Especially in the settings I play in. People are often chatting with other people, working on their computer, or watching a sports game and at first I took it really personally. Now I’ve learned to be okay with it, because really until I prove I’m worth listening to I have no right to demand their attention.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Oh man, I could just go on about this with a list as long as the Mariam Webster’s Dictionary. They range from oldies like Bread and The Carpenters to Keaton Henson and The Staves. I also admire Angus and Julia Stone, The Paper Kites, The Oh Hellos, Let’s Buy Happiness, The Tallest Man on Earth and so many others!

What is it about their music that you connect with?

I would say that there are different things that I admire and connect with for each artist. But over all I admire their ability to tell a story in a way that it feels like they are telling your story, the way that melodies and harmonies can be created that instantly pull you in and stick with you all day long, and the honesty that is in their words.

I’ve been interviewing other artists and creatives – a writer, a painter, a guy who does digital media – what is it about music that drew you in more than other art forms?

I think mainly because that’s just what I’ve always been good at. At least that is how it started. I grew up in a musical family singing in church services and music nights since I was five. But as I’ve gotten older I have been drawn to music by its universalism and power. I mean, in the Bible when Saul was tormented the only thing that brought him peace was music! And I think that is still true today. Music heals and restores, brings joy and peace, inspires and unifies, and transcends barriers of language, class and pasts. That’s pretty dang powerful! This isn’t to say that I don’t admire or find other art forms powerful. I would love to have the talent to paint or be computer savvy, but as a musician I guess I have a little bit of a bias to the art of music.

You’ve been working on an EP recently, what’s that like for you?

It has been a crazy experience! I have been learning a ton! As it’s my first project I have learned how much actually goes into producing an album!  The actual recording process was a bit more difficult than I’d expected. We started by laying down the guitar track which was the hardest part for me; trying to play the song without singing and keeping track of where I was in the song all the while attempting to keep up with the metronome clicking in my ear the whole time. I’d just get all flustered and frustrated which I’m sure was quite comical! Our set up was pretty funny as well! We just recorded in the music building at my school and had to get creative while making the mock studio. We had couch cushions propped up all around me in this little corner and all the wires stretched as far as they could reach. It was awesome! From humble beginnings, right?

How’s it coming along?

It is coming along great! It actually just got finished this week and I am really happy with the finished product! My hope is that now I will be able to get it on iTunes and then get some copies produced which means even more decisions!

I do a bit of snooping about people before I interview them so I can have a few thoughts to work with and I saw on the Facebook page for your music that you’d never named any songs until you were working this project. Was that on purpose, or did it just happen that way?

Umm I guess a little bit of both. I mean it’s not like I decided one day “Oh I’m not going to name my songs and be weird like that” but it was obviously intentional. For the most part I just never named my songs because I am never fully satisfied with them and am constantly going back and editing them. Putting a title on my song would feel like the completing touch which never felt right because I was never done. That and the fact that I am just hugely indecisive!

What’s it been like to come up with names?

It has been a slow process, that’s for sure! I think I’ve spent as much time thinking about titles as I did writing the songs! And don’t even get me started on the album title! That took forever. With some of the songs the title fit right away and with others I’ve named them and re-named them. But ultimately I’m really happy with the song names at this point.

Do you have a “process”? How does a song go from an idea, or something in your head, to the point where you’re ready to perform it?

Writing has always been a way to process things that are going on in my life. I don’t really have a set process but normally it starts with something that is on my mind and then I just sit down with my guitar and start messing around with melodies. Then from there I just let whatever words are in my head come out. Some make sense and are great and some not so much. I’m sure I have whole songs that I’ve forgotten because I didn’t write the words down quick enough though! From there it is a lot like writing a paper with layers of editing. I usually go away for a day and then come back and play it over and over working out kinks. I have a couple people that I always run songs by before I actually perform them in front of people as kind of a bouncing board to make sure it’s good.

What kinds of things do you use for inspiration?

Like I said, most of my songs are a product of processing what is or has gone on in my life, so as self-absorbed as that sounds my inspiration is myself. Ha! I also draw inspiration from the musical creativity of other artists. When I hear cool tunings that people are playing in, or beautiful melodies that move me to the core it challenges me to have that same effect on my listeners. I’ve also noticed that time alone inspires me. I tend to be a bit of an introvert and when I actually get that time alone I have time to think and I tend to feel more creative and inspired to write.

Where do you think God fits with the art of music?

When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything but Christian music and then at a camp the speaker talked about how God created music and the talent of creating music. Despite the fact that some of those people aren’t using their gift for God’s glory doesn’t mean we can’t marvel at God’s creativity in that person. Everything beautiful can be traced back to our creator and to me music is one of the most beautiful and powerful things on earth.

Ok, let’s talk about connection between your faith life and your music. Is it there?

I feel like I’m just repeating myself but yeah, I would say it is there. Maybe not in the most typical way. I know that music is a talent that Christ has given me and has used in my life to bring healing and joy. My desire it to glorify Christ in everything I do and that includes when I’m playing my guitar at a farmers market. But I have also found that God has given me opportunities to use my gift for his glory in more direct ways as well; such as leading worship.

How do those two things come together for you?

This is something that as of late I have really struggled with. Not necessarily in finding the connection of my music and my God for myself but for other people. My desire is to glorify Christ with everything I do but when I went to write songs they really never turned out to be what I would consider “Christian” and I never wanted to force something that wasn’t organic musically. But recently I was showing my music to a producer and his wife and talking about the “catch” in my music. The one comment that the wife had was simply “you’ll bring healing to people.” And I realized how true that statement was. The songs that I write are honest, sometimes brutally so. I hope that there are others that hear my songs relate them to their own lives. I have to trust that God has given me the gift and experiences that He did for a purpose and that it will bring the same healing to others that they brought to me. And that the way I live my life will convey my saviors love.

Do you ever intentionally write anything that’s purpose is to communicate about God?

I have written one song that was communicating about God. How it came together was pretty crazy too! I had written just a verse and chorus to a song and hadn’t really been able to add anything else or knew where to go with it. One day a girl I knew came to me and said she had written a verse and bridge to a song and asked me to put music to it. As I read her lyrics I realized they fit perfectly with the verse and chorus that I had written. It was pretty crazy!

I would love to write more about my savior but like I said, I don’t force something. If God gives me the words I’ll write it.

There’s a lot of good music out there that has Christian lyrics, or Christian themes…I don’t like the term “Christian music” because there’s nothing inherently Christian or non-Christian about music – it’s in the lyrics and content. What’re your thoughts on that?

Yeah I would agree! At times I’ve laughed at the fact that a “Christian” song on the radio sounded like a song written for a girlfriend or boyfriend. And yet, at the same there are “non-Christian” song that have brought be to an intimate moment with God! I think it all goes back to the truth that God created music and can speak to us through the words whether they were written with Him in mind or not.

There’s a lot of good music out there that has Christian lyrics, or Christian themes but there’s also some pretty cheesy stuff out there. How do we move away from that? How do we start creating music that is in some way shape or form communicating about Jesus, but not in a…crappy way…? Does that make sense at all?

I think it’s all about perspective when it comes to this. What I might consider a cheesy Christian song (and trust me as a born and raised Pastors Kid, I find plenty of them cheesy) may have brought another person to Jesus. I think the most important thing as a song writer once again is to be honest. Especially with something as sacred as Christ. One of the best Christian songs I’ve heard was at a party when this guy sang a song he had written. It was brutally honest in presenting the crucifixion and the idea that he was no better than those that caused it. We are no better than those that caused it. I know there are a lot of Christian songs with this same concept, but the raw honesty is what made it powerful in my opinion. But maybe someone found that song super cheesy. I don’t know. But I do know God can make all things work together for his good. Even a cheesy song.

Anything else you want to share?

I’m sorry you got a small book as apposed a short interview!

Where can people connect with you online?

Right now the best place tconnect with me is on Facebook. Once I get the ball rolling that is where you’ll find information about where to find my EP and where I’ll be playing at! I am hoping to be playing at more places soon! For sure come and like my page at www.facebook.com/CourtneyOfficerMusic

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Friday Interviews

 

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An Interview With You

Today’s interview is short. It does require some involvement from you though. I want to know two things from you:

  1. What gives you a “Case of the Mondays”? What is it that makes you feel lethargic in your work, or your play? What brings on an attitude that stalls you in whatever you’re doing?
  2. What do you do to fight it? What do you do to combat those times?

 

I know I’m not the only one out there who experiences these days/periods of time. That’s why I love talking about what we can do to fight it with you guys so much! I want to hear from you – and when it’s all said and done you might find that other people are struggling with the same things!

So here’s what you do: Take a few minutes and think about those things. Then send me a DM on twitter (@superstippy), facebook message, or e-mail (SuperStippy@gmail.com) me your answers. In a few weeks they’ll be featured here in a Case of the Mondays post.

Don’t put your answer in the comments section. That will ruin the fun! Normally I love to talk to you guys in the comments section but we’ll hold off on this one!

Lastly, share the link to this post and get other people involved!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you guys!

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Friday Interviews