Since this is a family company, let me first introduce my family, I am Carol-Ann, my husband is Rolf, our children are Maximillian, Amanda and Giovanni.
Early in our marriage Rolf and I would make cards for family and friends. I would say, "Rolf, I want to say this and that, can you put it in a poem or just make up something that rhymes?" We would always do a great job together. . After we had our first child Max, we had less and less time to do these. When we would give cards we did not want to sign Max's name so we got an ink pad and would make either a hand or a foot print. We could say that it was done by him. .
Our first Christmas back on the East Coast was in Catonsville, MD just outside of Baltimore. After spending a couple glorious years 1,700 miles away from both families in Colorado we found that absence does make the heart grow fonder. That year though we figured the kids were at the age in which they could give gifts to the family. We really wanted the gifts to be from the kids and not just in name only. It was at this point we (Rolf & I) were having deep conversations. For us personally Christmas meant that our primary focus was on the children and the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth. Now what do we do? Yes, we have to admit our children really did well on Christmas. And yes, we could just let the kids go into stores to buy gifts for those around us. Somehow it did not represent what we wanted to teach our children about Christmas. .
So, we thought that we would see what our kids could do to create gifts and not just buy them. We looked through the craft store and liked the idea of the kids making soaps. They could choose the kind of soap, what they wanted in it (Chamomile or lavender) and what color and scent. Rolf said we should literally make "hand soaps,” so we got clay and made molds (not the easiest thing in the world to do!) of Max & Amanda's hands. We made hand soaps from these molds. I was concerned that some of the soaps may not turn out perfectly, but Rolf's response was that "the perfection is in the imperfection." Some days this is fine but others when it seems like there are mistakes all over the place, that statement can be a hindrance to my personal progress! The soaps were a huge hit with most everyone who received them. .
Each year after that the crafts we did were varied. Family and friends over the years said we should market and sell the crafts we do. This all started Christmas 2001. Max was 7 and Amanda was 4 years old. .
2001 and 2002 were very tumultuous years personally. We lost 15 people in approx 12 months. My baby sister graduated high school. I found myself pregnant against all odds! We lost our jobs just after buying our first home. To buy the home we used money that was given to us from an insurance policy covering the death of Rolf's oldest brother Jimmy during that crazy year. We had no idea of what to do now, having spent 10 years working in the storage industry. Unfortunately, for us professionally, we moved to Dover, Delaware, where most of the storage companies are mom and pop companies in which the owners are working the properties. Additionally, some of the bigger companies do not understand how the industry leaders prefer to hire married couples. Working in the local storage market is not going to be the same as it has for the past 10 years. Work is not easily found where we are. .
With a brand new baby I endeavored to make a gift for my sister. I got her photos from high school and took photos and video at her graduation. I produced a photo and video slide show that could be played in a DVD player. I found that creating the presentation was something that I really enjoyed and did a few other projects for family. One of which was a VCD in memory of Rolf's brother Jimmy which included Rolf reciting some of Jimmy's poetry. I was having such a good time doing the projects that I wanted to do it for a living. .
I have done a couple of invitations for family parties and needed a logo and name for the back. In our younger years the name on the back was "The Harding’s" or something like it. I was partial to 'Another Harding Family Creation,' but it did not seem complete. I also did not like the idea that we may be taking credit away from God. Especially since He is the driving force behind us and everything that we do, I felt that He needed to be included in the name of the company. I felt led to add 'With God's Love.' This in my heart is a way of saying that God is the reason in the center of everything that we do. I used Gio's footprint for the logo. (Kind of fitting since the kids call Gio their late Christmas present from God, having been born on January 12.) .
When I filled out my paperwork for the company I did not have a specific idea of what I wanted to do. So, I put down computers, photography and videography and so much more! Because it was March 30 they said in the office they could date the license April 2 so I did not have to have "April Fool's Day" as the first day of the company. Looking back it may have been interesting to have that as the opening day of our business. But that's okay. .
Over the next few years the company seemed to go nowhere. Our Christmas crafts took a huge leap forward when for his birthday my husband got a sewing machine. That was the year of the pillow. My dad could not see giving a sewing machine to a guy so we are very grateful that my mom stuck to it. (Thanks again, Mom!) .
Rolf wrote a program for people to put their medical information on a USB drive very quickly and easily. I designed that web-site, unfortunately I needed to make it match the shopping cart that we were using at the time. The changes that I envisioned that needed to be done for the site I have not had the chance to do yet. I sent out press releases and have had a good number of people on the site but it has not gone far. When I got the hosting for ICEDRIVE, the company I went through was offering 5 domain names for free. .
So, Rolf and I came up with some names that we wanted to see web-sites go up on. One of which was Jim's Corner which was most of what Jim had on a Geo Cities account. We decided to name one Harding Kids. We thought that the kids could recommend books to kids (they would write book reports to describe briefly what they read.) We were not sure what else may or may not go on the site. The site sat idle for quite some time. During this period we turned our lives around. We started looking for what God wanted us to do with our lives. This is when God took center stage in our lives again (So to say!) Gio had a lot to do with this. .
Then came December 2007, we were thankful for the ideas this year. We determined that after Christmas we were going to set up the kid’s site and sell some of the crafts because these were the best yet! We were ahead of schedule that year at least for the crafts. Then we got to Coleman's Tree Farm to cut down our Christmas tree. .
We were on Route 9 and just started home and Rolf's phone rang, we found out Jarod (our nephew) had been taken from us. We stopped home to put the tree in the house and up to New Jersey we go. On the way we turn on KYW 1060 AM the news station for the radio in the Phila/NJ area. At one point when they ran the news story about our nephew someone asked "What did a six year old do to deserve this?" I just wanted to let everyone know that he was just a kid. He was a victim and in the news the perpetrator gets all the attention. .
I asked Rolf if we could use Harding Kids to put up photos of Jarod and Christie and to let people know that they were/are normal kids. We put together a site in a couple of days. It became huge for a while and we had a lot of information on the site. Then there were problems with Rolf's brother and we had to take a lot off the site (some for DYFS, some for his brother.) We have gotten a lot of well wishes and for that reason the site is still up. Unfortunately, some people want to hear about the perpetrator of the crime. Now, for Rolf and I, we were able to forgive our sister-in-law rather quickly and easily. People seem to think that because this site is about Jarod they need to lecture us about forgiveness. Oh, well, not much can be done about that. .
Christmas 2008, one of the gifts was salve, we got a lot of feed back from that one. Another year of growing in our faith. Another year not knowing where to go. Another year of family and friends saying we need to sell the crafts that we make. .
Christmas 2009 our best yet. Family and friends are surprised that we come up with our original ideas and make them. One of our friend's says to write the Oprah Show maybe she can help. So, we agree to pray about it and see if we can glorify God with this. .
We have spent the summer finding Focus on The Family movies and other wholesome movies. 2009 has been interesting! We found Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Flywheel. These movies have helped us find a different viewpoint of life. Putting God in a higher place in our lives. We thought that God was number one but we found that there were areas where we just had not thought about. .
Now, we are beginning 2010 and we are searching for new and interesting ways to glorify God.