Bethel’s newest homecoming event was hosted for the first time Saturday.
By Hannah Hunhoff and Molly McFadden | Lifestyle Reporter and Contributing Writer
Bethel University alum Kristen Hall took the 35W exit and drove down E2 to a nostalgic institution that launched her entrepreneurship dreams of starting her own earring business, Forever and Hallways. Memories engulfed her mind: Four years playing collegiate volleyball. Being a TA in the education department. Taking part in the Bethel Community.
Hall parked her car in the West Lot and carried bins of handcrafted clay earrings onto the bustling lawn of the Community Life Center. She set up rows of handcrafted earrings and wooden promotional signs at her assigned table. The first Bethel Alumni Marketplace event had begun.
“I like the aspect of owning my own business,” Hall said. “I can say that I’m going to certain events that are showing Christian values and Christian beliefs.”
She doesn’t have a boss to run her values by. Instead she assumes the roles of photographer, creator, web designer and social media manager for her small business.
Forever and Hallways’ table lined the CLC circle Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.with eight other Bethel alumni-owned small businesses.
From Balloon Fancy’s Bethel-themed balloon creations to Scedler Pottery’s colorful mugs, A Home Revival’s home staging displays and an assortment of Koselig candles, each table front in the CLC lawn had laid out its goods.
Maureen Cunningham, the manager of the Bethel Fund and Alumni Participation, stood on the south side of the market, greeting those in attendance.
“[It’s] just our way of helping alumni and showing that the Bethel community still cares about them,” Cunningham said. She hopes the marketplace will soon become a treasured tradition.
Among the eight small businesses was Rachel and Jacob Beaudry’s protein bar business, Rawr Organics. The idea for Rawr Bars emerged when Jacob experienced insulin resistance and Rachel pressed into her passion for bodybuilding.
They both quit their corporate careers in finance and said they were obedient to God’s calling in their lives to join a ministry in Africa for three months before becoming entrepreneurs.
“It was foundational before we started the bar,” Jacob said. The couple donates 5% of its net profits to Feed My Starving Children and another 5% to Stop for One, the ministry they served with in Africa.
Their long-term dream is to develop a bar that eliminates any preparation steps and fills the bellies of hungry children in Africa, no longer requiring mothers to walk six hours to obtain water.
The Beaudrys say their Christian faith remains the cornerstone of their business and guides every decision, product and conversation.
“If God has called you to it and if you continue to just get up every day and be faithful, there will be a point where you will receive that breakthrough,” Jacob said.
Hall also finds purpose in running Forever and Hallways. All of her earrings have female names inspired by friends and family. Recognizing that lifestyle and trends change, she is ready to pivot her small business in new directions when those arise. Her goal is to foster joy and confidence through her products.“I definitely think that it gives me the opportunity to speak and share light into all of my followers,” she said. “I hope they see that I am someone different.”