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Meet Vivien Francis of pilLOVEtalk in La Jolla & UTC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vivien Francis.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My passion for art and inspirational sayings began in childhood. Positive messages were a way of life at home as my mom, a single parent, relied upon them. These messages sourced my strength with her cancer diagnosis when I was 14. I wrote them all over my notebooks. At 15 my mom died so me and my brothers moved in with our grandmother. Within five years my older brother died tragically, and soon afterward I lost my grandmother too. To cope I placed positive affirmations all over my room and read Bible Scriptures daily. This inspired me to find strength. Later after getting married and having two girls, I painted murals of prayers, affirmations, and Bible Scriptures in their rooms. I’d read these to them at bedtime. Integrating positive expressions into my living environment brought me joy and peace.

By surrounding ourselves with uplifting messages over time we can rewire our brains and strengthen our positivity. We can also improve biological functions and perform better under duress. Learning about this research compelled me to share these powerful practices with others. Years later my husband stayed in Guatemala while I moved to the United States with our daughters. He traveled back and forth between the two countries yet within one year we separated. For Father’s Day, our girls spent the day with their dad at a Florida beach. Without my knowledge or consent, he took them to Guatemala. This began a lengthy litigation process and battle for custody. For five years I didn’t have any contact with my daughters. During the fifth year, I found an opportunity to see them for two weeks.

Altogether we were apart for six years before they moved back to live with me. During the six most challenging years of my life, I again turned to uplifting messages, prayers, and affirmations to keep going. I wrote a prayer on the wall of my room which I read every day many times: “I refuse to go backward. I’m going forward with God. I’m going to be the person he wants me to be. I’m going to fulfill my destiny.” This became my mantra which help me find hope and assured me my girls would return. While we were apart I painted affirmations and prayers on the walls of my home in every room and corridor including the garage. I created a faith box to put quotes, prayers, Bible Scriptures−anything that offered hope.

Whenever doubt crept in, I read them. I imagined wrapping my daughters in words of love and blessings on pillowcases. This is how PilloveTalk began. For many years PilloveTalk remained an idea as I returned to school for an MA degree in Peace and Justice Studies and began working at the University of San Diego. My dream didn’t seem possible with no space in my life to create it. Even though I kept pushing the idea away, PilloveTalk wouldn’t let me go. It clung to my heart. After sharing the idea with friends and colleagues, they urged me on. I then felt willing to take some small steps. By enrolling in classes to learn about the industry and how to sew, I created my first samples with handwritten affirmations on pillows. As the amount of time, I needed to work on the project exceeded the time I had: weekends and nights; I finally left my job to pursue my long-term dream.

These smaller steps led to larger ones as I became a fellow at various business accelerators in San Diego where I have been working with many mentors. PilloveTalk started to sell the first products at the end of 2015 after seven years of birthing. Without anticipating it, people bought pillowcases in droves. They purchased them for family and friends in the hospital, with various health issues, in recovery centers, overcoming emotional losses or experiencing unexpected challenges or tragedies. For much of my life, I have been passionate about integrating positive messages into my living environment. Now my life’s purpose is to design home products and textiles for others with affirmations, prayers, and uplifting messages so they can improve their health and overall well-being with reminders of meaningful ideas.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The challenge of a “soloprenour” is to break the isolation of working alone and find a community and team members that will support and help you reach the company vision and mission. Keeping your eyes on the goal is key as the journey has ups and downs and it’s important to be connected to goals and the WHY we do what we do. The gap between our starting point and our goal is uncertain, it requires endless hours of work and dedication and it might take a long time before we see expected results.

Keeping the right mindset is important as the journey of entrepreneurship has struggles but at the end, the reward is that we become more tenacious, flexible, creative, resourceful, open-minded, learn new skills beyond imagination and we end up being and achieving things that we didn’t know we could be and achieve. It’s a process that unfolds itself as we walk through the entrepreneurial pathway.

pilLOVEtalk – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
PilLOVEtalk is a unique line of home and office decor that delivers positive inspiration, providing meaningful messages in functional products used in daily living. Our inspirational messages are delivered in artistic ways created by in-house designers. Our products support emotional balance, they function as reminders of daily intentions and uplifting ideas to improve your ability to feel good, increase optimism and respond effectively to challenges. Our purpose is to provide customers with uplifting messages that are empowering, inspirational and encouraging.

Every time customers share their stories about how comforting our inspirational pillows and other products have been, I know I’m doing what I came here for. By bringing others hope and helping to deepen their faith, self-love, and love for life, our mission as a company is fulfilled.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
I think that we are born with a purpose and life unfolds helping us achieve that goal. I don’t believe is luck but life supporting our path to becoming the fullest expression of who we were born to be. For some it might be luck, for me is about life supporting my highest good and wellbeing. Trusting the process is not about good or bad luck, but just knowing everything unfolds to support our greatest good at the end. What might seem like bad luck usually ends up being a blessing in disguise?

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Image Credit:
CoastHighway Photography

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