ReThrive Designs is an original recycled guitar string jewelry company started by Glen Roseman. In March 2009, there was a moment of pure inspiration for Glen. Having never seen this concept before, he shared his idea with Joyce and within a few months the ReThrive Guitar String Jewelry company was born. Only then, they had named it Strung Up Jewelry. With time and the development of their brand and story, the name ReThrive became more appropriate. ReThrive has a unique mission and they share their story with you in hopes of inspiring you as well as raising awareness for the often overlooked & touchy subject of mental health illnesses.
Glen and Joyce met in the spring of 1988. It was pretty much love at first sight. Glen was witty and had a quirky sense of humor. They both recall their first conversation where their dreams and hopes seemed to mesh perfectly. Glen, four years older than Joyce, had completed his BA in music education. Joyce was just finishing, so plans for a life in music seemed like the perfect occupational choice. In December 1988, they were married and this began the life they both probably never imagined living.
Since Glen and Joyce shared a church background and music degrees, the logical choice for employment seemed to be as Ministers of Music. Little did they know this road would be challenging and filled with a lot of discrimination. For 10 years, Glen, who had been diagnosed with bipolar and OCD, faced shame and scorn at almost every church position held. He battled with who he could confide in and when it was "safe" to share his story. There were a few bright spots on the church employment landscape but for the most part, clergy had little interest in mental health discussions. Unfortunately almost 30 years later and with close examination we can discover that not much has changed. Mental illness is looked upon with shame. Those who suffer are accused of being lazy, incompetent and they are often treated as though they have leprosy.
While Glen was repeatedly dismissed from jobs for no wrong doing, their young family was left to struggle with hardship and loss. In 1997, after yet another devastating job loss and a 1200 mile move across the country, Glen and Joyce decided they had faced enough. Wait...instead of glossing over the ugly details, maybe you the reader needs more insight into just how devastating this loss was.
Up to this point, there had been a long string of losses. Not all the job losses were necessarily a big deal, although even part time work was vital for their family. This loss was the straw that broke the camels back. Glen & Joyce recall crying most days for 4 months. Joyce remembers that this was the first time in her life when she really came face to face with depression. This was a trying time for her. They had 3 children under the age of 6 and life was going in reverse instead of forward. They had support from very few people. Both their families did not fully embrace and understand their struggles. They often watched from a distance, never fully accepting and offering emotional support. And this doesn't even begin to express the depth of financial strain that was placed upon this young family. These discussions are left as blog material which Joyce frequently writes about. You can link to their blog here.
As time moved along, Joyce became convinced that she needed to help her husband take control and stop the cycle of job loss. Once again they decided that music was their alley and friend. Using their gifts seemed like another logical choice and it was! They decided that they would open a private music teaching studio in their home. That's another part of the miraculous story that perhaps bear a small digression here. Glen and Joyce had moved in with his Mother and stayed there for 9 months trying to get on their feet. It was an extremely challenging time for them. Joyce mentioned her struggles during this time but it went even deeper. At odds with each other, she contemplated leaving Glen. After a single day trip to see her parents, who were not much emotional support, she decided her love was way too strong and that somehow God would enable her to keep her commitment to Glen. She has never wavered on this decision.
Now back to their story...In was late fall of 1997 and a friend has suffered with a serious health issue that would later take her life. She was a piano teacher. Someone needed to fill her shoes and with a simple phone call, Joyce was handed 17 piano students just like that! It was a miracle for their young struggling family. They expanded their offerings to guitar and voice lessons and by February 1998, they were able to secure a rental home from where they could also teach private music instruction.
This proved to be a smart and protective environment for Glen and his health. Here, he could step back, when he felt stressed, to rest and revive. Joyce could monitor his symptoms and decipher how to offset the triggers of his disease. For 12 years they taught music and this became the springboard for a new chapter in their lives. In the middle of this 12 year chapter was a decisive move to Nashville, TN. They grew as a family. They learned a lot about mental illness and they grew stronger and more determined to make a difference. But how?
Their losses had been great. Not just financial losses, but the greatest of these were friends and family members. Many stayed on the fringes watching their family struggle from a distance. They weren't friends or allies really, for they often had advice that did nothing but hurt and destroy the hopes they still clung to. In all, they slowly began to learn to close the door to people who did not embrace mental illness and cut their losses. There was great freedom but it did not come easily or painlessly.
One spring day in March 2009, while teaching guitar lessons, Glen had the brilliant moment of inspiration to repurpose his guitar strings into beautiful jewelry. At first, Joyce was not convinced, but with some gentle persuasion, she obliged and the company was born. She recalls being reluctant because it seems like yet another pipe dream idea that was doomed for failure. But with a few months of gentle persuasion, she set to work creating and their jewelry company took wings.
But, there was more to them than just building a brand and creating cool guitar string jewelry. Glen and Joyce had spent their lives carefully navigating mental illness. They understood personally the devastating results of stigma, stereotyping and discrimination. They understood what it felt like to be in the marginalized sector of society. It became their mission to put a spotlight on honest mental health dialogue. While taking the conversation to churches might had been the obvious choice, God had a better idea. With little more than a dream in their pockets, they set out to tell their story. They decided a mobile life might best serve them and so they sold everything they owned to give wings to their dreams. After hosting 16 yard sales, during the summer of 2010, they finally had enough money to purchase a 31.5' fifth wheel RV camper. The truck would come later.
Their dream of hitting the road was delayed a few months, so they towed the RV to a local campground where divine providence was definitely on their side. They took their jewelry to a local flea market. It was not the place to sell such a creative product, but they needed the money, so off they went. They sold nothing the entire day...until up walked an angel. She declared that God had sent her down this isle and as she stood face to face with Glen and Joyce she was smitten with their work. The story spilled out and the dream to hit the road also spilled from their lips to her heart. At the end of the day, with a check in hand for over $1200, they could now set out to wherever the road would take them. But how would they go without a truck to pull their RV? God had yet another lady in mind who would offer to tow their RV off to Florida.
Everyday miracles were occurring and their dreams promised to be a success. Just before Thanksgiving, they safely landed at the home of friends in Deland, Florida. It was here that their company took wings. A cousin of Joyce's had shared their jewelry with a store in Franklin,TN and they placed not one, but three orders throughout December and January. This was when the Roseman's knew they had a viable product. They began attending local flea markets to sell their jewelry. People loved their work and often custom orders would come in. With each new customer, their confidence soared and they began to believe their lives once again had purpose. Along with each sale, people would ask the story and the story solidified the sale. It was amazing to experience.
Flea Markets led to small art shows and one show led to another until someone shared about a local market in Savannah, GA. They liked Savannah so much and the tourist market was so strong that they decided to stay. A year and a half passed and life in an RV was coming to a close and so they put their beloved camper in storage and moved into an apartment. But three years of apartment living was enough and they needed a home. Having a place of privacy, a place to call a sanctuary, if you will, was vital for Glen and Joyce's emotional health. They had been through a lot over the years. Life, loss, and raising a family had worn them both quite thin. They needed a place where they could breath and recover. They found a beautiful home on a corner lot that backs up to a wooded preserve. This is now their home!
Surviving mental illness is a lifelong challenge that takes perseverance and commitment. Their desire has always been not just surviving but thriving. So a new name for their company was chosen. The carefully chosen word, ReThrive, means that in life we grow in seasons. With each new spring, we grow and thrive again after the dormant fall and winter. Like the seasons, the guitar strings that once made music, though cast aside, they can live again as beautiful jewelry.
ReThrive is more than just jewelry though. Joyce has a creative heart and designing a beautiful home is her ultimate passion. There is not a day that goes by that she isn't arranging or perfecting some space in their home. This passion for a revolving decor style caused Joyce to start an Instagram page devoted to showcasing all her passions. She writes about how the mental health discussion weaves its way into the fabric of their every day lives. Each day they ReThrive as a couple, company and as mental health lifestyle bloggers.
You can learn more about Glen and Joyce by reading their mental health lifestyle blog. http://www.rethriveblog.com/ Also be sure to follow ReThrive on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Want to hear more or hear their story in person, invite them to share their story and business at your next event.