Blessing and Light

Categories: Around the Diocese

jacenta_kroll

Photos by Dianne Towalski

St. Cloud mom makes blessings her business

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

As Jacinta Kroll carefully fills in the paint on the word “love” with a delicate paintbrush on one of her latest artistic expressions, that same word penetrates the air through the happy squeals of her kids, the gentle assistance of her sister and mother, the strong yet quiet presence of her husband and even the steady panting of Simon, the family dog.

The sounds float back and forth between their home and her studio through an open door that used to lead to the garage — now Kroll’s workspace — that is stacked to the ceiling with unique products she sells through her business, Blessing and Light.

Using her gifts

kroll_family

The Kroll family at their home in St. Cloud, from left: Kevin, Bennet, 4, Mari, 1, Lucia, 9, and Jacinta holding Simon.

Kroll has always been a “maker.” From her earliest childhood memories, she recalls her parents encouraging her to create — from drafting imaginary house plans, to nailing boards to a tree, to sewing moccasins from scrap leather.

In 2012, Kroll, a member of St. Anthony Parish in St. Cloud, was working as a stay-at-home mom with two small kids in tow when she felt the Holy Spirit calling her to take action.

“I decided that I wanted to do something in my life that embraces the things I think about, dream about and want to share with and teach my kids,” Kroll explained. “I wanted them to grow up thinking about ways to love others better, to embrace the gifts God has given them and share them with the world.”

Blessing and Light — named for her two oldest children, Lucia, which means light, and Bennet, which means blessing — was a business that Kroll wanted to be all about its name.

kroll2

Jacinta Kroll works on a custom stone in her workshop Nov. 16.

“And beyond that, it was about gratitude and generosity and embracing the life around us,” she said. “I wasn’t exactly sure what Blessing and Light would look like but I knew I had a start. I had always heard that ideas are a dime a dozen, and it was the doers that ‘made things happen.’ So one day I just started.”

Messages of gratitude, hope

Kroll appreciates working within limitations. So when it came to her business, she worked hard to set boundaries for herself.

“Perhaps that’s why I was inspired to start my business within the means that I had — whether it be with tools or time,” she said. “I also desired from the beginning that I would grow it debt free.”

Those boundaries allowed her to focus on her artistic ideas. She first started creating with wood and then after some promptings from early customers, she switched to her now most popular seller: tumbled concrete pavers she calls “stones.”

Lining the shelves and workspaces of her studio, these stones are adorned with colorful messages, images and symbols of gratitude, hope and love.

Kroll works with various textures and materials that she says have a “natural yet sense of class to them.” The stones — which can be used indoors or out — work as bookends, door stops, rustic indoor decor or in the garden.

She also created a line of concrete magnet collections with about 40 different themes. Additionally, she carefully crafts concrete pendants, burlap prints and fabric bookends.

“They make great gifts for anyone,” she said.

But for some, her products are more than a gift.

The personalized messages — some include photographs or the handwriting of a loved one — capture the hearts and attention of many people on the online e-commerce platform called Etsy. Her newest design is a series of miscarriage and infant loss memorials.

At a recent Hope for Healing Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Anna for those who have suffered the loss of a child, families received a gift from Kroll — a set of two magnets in a special case. One magnet read, “Forever loved,” with two tiny footprints. The second read, “There is no footprint so small that it doesn’t leave an imprint on this world.”

kroll_stone

One of Kroll’s new designs — a a memorial stone for miscarriage/infant loss.

Chris Codden, director of the Office of Marriage and Family in the Diocese of St. Cloud, said one couple attending the service had suffered two miscarriages more than 30 years ago. Another couple had lost a child the week before.

“To have something like this to take home is so special,” Codden said. “Our babies do matter.”

Kroll has always felt that the whole process of her business has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.

“I love doing this because it is not just making a project and sending it out. These all mean something to someone, they all have a story.”

Growing family, business

She started with only about 25 products.

“Every day I would put new products in my shop and work on tweaking my listings, prices [and] processes. It was a fun new experiment with the ability to get quick feedback on my ideas and interact with other sellers and eventually customers,” she said.

It took about 40 days to get her first sale and since then, business has slowly ramped up. After about three years of consistent work, she is nearing 350 products for sale with almost 7,000 online sales. She has sold to every state in the U.S. and to limited international countries. Though she won’t name them, she says she has many repeat customers and even a few celebrities.

Kroll has a goal of adding 100 more products, including new stone designs, linen pillows, linen-wrapped prints and concrete key chains.

“One of the greatest challenges and yet biggest rewards has been the ability to grow a business as a stay-at-home mom. It is a continual process of figuring out how to balance the growth of a business and the growth of a family. I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband, Kevin, and the kids and yet it’s certainly hard at times.”

Because she says she “bounces back and forth” between her work and family, her kids often feel like she is always working. Kroll is thankful that she has the help of her sister, April Bechtold, and her mother, Kathy Bechtold, who regularly helps with the kids. She also employs a couple of other helpers, including her daughter, Lucia, who has taken on the job of shop cleanup.

“I want the kids to see and learn that money is earned and to see the value of providing a service to others,” she said.

As her business expanded, so has her family. Kroll and her husband, Kevin, now have three children including Lucia, 9, Bennet, 4, Mari, 1, and a baby due in December.

“As a family we are excited about a new baby coming,” she said. “It’s fun to watch something grow as a family. Blessing and Light often feels like another baby in the family, one that has grown from my kitchen space to the dining room, to half the garage and now we are in the process of taking over the whole garage.

“I am very excited and grateful to have created this business which allows me to use my strengths to create for and serve others,” she added. “As steadily as it has grown, I feel like I am just beginning to feel the potential of the impact it could have.”

For more information about Blessing and Light and to view some of Kroll’s work, visit www.blessingandlight.com.