In this interview, Meredith Woodruff of Concrete Conversations shares a peek into her life as wife, mom, faith-driven business owner, and child of God. Be inspired as she shares her journey to creating gorgeous products with a meaningful aim: to equip people to pursue intentional and meaningful conversations with their community with the goal to better know and be known by those around them.
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Our heart-strong interviewees are creatives in business who have taken the talents, abilities, resources, and unique personalities God has gifted them with and crafted something beautiful through the work of their hands and dependency upon Him. Be encouraged, inspired, and glean savvy insight for your own creative journey from these artists and visionaries.
Tell us a bit about your family, where you live, what you enjoy doing as a family, and how you love to spend some of your downtime.
I am the happy wife of Reece Woodruff, who is my best friend and closest confidant. Together, we have three amazing children: Elanor, Owen, and Lucy. We currently live in Lewisville, Texas, where my husband works as an Associate Pastor at a church that was planted in the last few years. When we are not working, homeschooling, or attending church activities, we love to find a fun way to be outside. Even in the sometimes grueling Texas heat! On the weekends, you can find us looking for a new hiking trail in our area, working on a house project, or simply hanging out as a family at the house.
What is your salvation story?
I came to know the Lord at a young age. I remember my mom would always pray with me when she tucked me in at night. And eventually, I decided that I wanted to know the Jesus she prayed to so confidently. Since encountering Jesus, He has shown me over and over that He sees me, He cares for me, and that I can trust Him to protect and provide for me. Because of the safety that comes from being a child of God, I have been freed from the pressure of having to make myself known. Instead am empowered to simply be who He created me to be and carry out the assignments He gives in the various seasons of life.
What is your business/organization story? How and when was the idea seed first sown? Then how did it sprout and finally bloom into what it is today?
I often refer to myself as the ‘accidental’ founder and creator of Concrete Conversations®. I have absolute zero background in business or entrepreneurship. But I have always loved a good question. I love the way a well-worded question can communicate care and offer others the opportunity to feel seen. I’d often find myself writing questions on little scraps of paper to throw in the middle of the table before hosting a dinner with friends.
One weekend in early January of 2019, my husband and I went on a getaway to Austin, TX without the kids. I was sitting on the couch in our Airbnb apartment when the idea for the product first came to me. I realized I wanted to take my love of question asking from scraps of paper in the middle of our table to an actual product that we could use with our guests. From the very beginning I knew that I wanted each question to be written with the aim of intentionally learning something about another person, even if it was as simple as learning what someone’s favorite treat is to receive after a hard day. I also knew that I wanted the product to be something pretty enough to be kept on one’s table all year long.
Somewhere along the way, I decided that if I was going to make one of these, I could make one hundred and just see what happened. I did just that and was pleasantly surprised—okay, SHOCKED—when a few hours after opening the shop, we completely sold out of inventory. That’s when I knew I was on to something.
How did you decide on the name of your business? Does it have any significant meaning to you?
I knew I wanted the name of my business to encapsulate my vision for the product itself. My hope was that Concrete Conversations would be a tool that equips others with intentional questions to have deep and meaningful conversations. I also knew I wanted my container to be made out of concrete. I love the raw and clean look of concrete. And as I started learning more about the material itself, it only made sense that I would incorporate it into the name of the business!
CON·CRETE: formed by a coalition of particles. Verb: to make actual or real, cause to take on the qualities of reality. Synonyms: actual, real, genuine. The physical makeup of our concrete container reflects our intent for its function. To spur on real, genuine, and substantial conversations that enable both you and your community to be more fully and intimately known.
Has your business grown in the direction and at the pace you expected it to grow? What are some ways that it looks very close to what you planned as well as some ways that it looks entirely different?
I truthfully never imagined that I would completely sell out of inventory on the first day I opened the online shop. I thought there was a good chance I’d be giving away these concrete containers to my friends and family for the next few Christmas holidays. But on that first day, I called my husband in a panic because I had accidentally sold more products than I even had! I obviously was not prepared for the response. But that is what made it so fun and also slightly stressful.
That night, I reached out to my carpenter and to the woman who makes my concrete containers. They agreed to make another round of inventory as quickly as possible. To my surprise, we continued to sell out of inventory multiple times in those first few months until I could get a handle on how to plan accordingly. Since then, things have become more predictable and manageable with time and experience. There are definitely busy seasons and slower seasons, which I really enjoy.
One Step at a Time
At this point in my life, I am raising three small children and homeschooling. I desire to be a very present mom, wife, and member of my local church. My goals for the business revolve around those other roles. And I’m so grateful for the privilege it is to get to do this on the side. People ask me often what my goals are for the business and I do have some but I’m truly just taking one step at a time. I don’t have as much to offer toward the business as I feel like I ‘should’ at times. But the Lord is continually reminding me to offer what I have and trust Him with the rest. It’s been an absolute joy to see Him take my humble efforts and bring about immense fruit in different ways.
What are some of the specific gifts and abilities you feel the Lord has blessed you with that have led you to this business/organization?
Although I had no experience running or starting a business prior to Concrete Conversations, I do believe I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. In my early days of marriage, Reece and I were both in graduate school and working full time. Money was tight and we were eager to do anything we could to make a little extra cash each month. I would literally pick up junk from the curb in people’s yards (mostly furniture) and take it home to clean it up, flip it, and resell it on Facebook Marketplace. I loved the joy of taking something old and worn and reworking it to give it life and beauty. And I also loved the rush of making a profit off something that was otherwise going to get thrown into the trash!
I believe one of the spiritual gifts the Lord has given me is hospitality, which I’ve always understood as the ability to make people feel welcome and seen. I see clearly how the Lord has used my own personal story to fuel a passion to create safe spaces for others to share what is going on in their own hearts. And I believe this is what allows me to step into the shoes of others and think about what types of questions might draw out the things that need to be shared.
What are some of the difficulties you have faced along your journey and how have you worked with the Lord to overcome them?
As fun and exciting as starting a business has been, there have been plenty of challenges along the way and I’ve faced a huge learning curve. From consistent inventory issues, to having to redesign every part of my product to fit a different mold in our busiest season, to learning the ins and outs of working with concrete… I have had my fair share of “I want to quit!” moments that my husband and friends have had to talk me out of. I’m learning that these challenges are simply a part of running a business, and that most of them can actually be solved with some hard work, patience, and by asking for help. The Lord has definitely used this business to grow my trust in His tangible provision and care.
Another area that the Lord has done a big work in my heart is teaching me to embrace my limitations. As a small business owner, there is always a running list of things I could or ‘should’ be doing to grow or improve my business. At times this list feels exciting and energizing. But it can often feel burdensome and anxiety-producing. I am learning over and over to offer what I can with the time and resources I have and to trust the Lord as I rest in my limitations. And do you know what? Over and over again, I’m amazed at the fruit that comes from the seemingly little I have to offer.
What does a typical workday look like for you? Share a bit of a behind-the-scenes view of your day from the time you wake up until the time you finish work.
In this season of life, my kids are with me almost all of the time. So work for my business typically happens in the afternoon during their rest time and after they go to bed. Before lunch, I usually send the kids outside and sneak in the garage to pack orders before the mailman comes in the afternoon. After lunch, the kids have a rest time for two hours. That’s when I answer emails, work on projects, create social media posts, or continue packing orders. My oldest has started asking to join me while I pack orders. And I can honestly say, she is starting to become genuinely helpful! I try to involve the kids as much as I can. They are big fans of Concrete Conversations. It’s not uncommon now for my oldest to tell me “Mom, you’re doing a great job with your business!”
What is your best advice for women wanting to begin their own creative business, organization, or cause?
Well, coincidentally, I would start by asking questions! First off, I would simply want to hear what their vision is and learn more about what is stirring them to pursue this idea. What is the ultimate goal? Is this something you have capacity to pursue in this season of life? If so, great! It is so fun to see the Lord use His image bearers to bring about the Kingdom of God in so many unique ways.
Lastly, I would highly encourage anyone wanting to take this type of step to do so in community. Invite your trusted friends, family, or other entrepreneurs to have a seat at the table. Let them listen to your ideas and give you honest feedback and encouragement. I have personally found it so helpful to seek the advice from friends and acquaintances that are a step (or five!) ahead of me in their business.
How do you define success?
At the broadest level, when I think about how to define success, my mind goes straight to Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30-31. Jesus is explaining the greatest commandment when he says, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
On a more practical level, success looks like being faithful to carry out the roles and assignments God has placed before me. First and foremost, I am a child of God, a disciple of Jesus, a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend. If I can be faithful to pursue those roles with excellence I will be abundantly thankful.
As far as what success looks like for my business, I want to create quality products that equip people to pursue intentional and meaningful conversations with their community. My hope is that anyone who engages with my products will walk away with a greater understanding of themselves and those around them.
Be sure to check out all the products available at Concrete Conversations and contact us at the links below:
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