Writer / Johnette Cruz
Photographers / Johnette Cruz, Chalais Randle Photography & Joylily Photography
Kellie Kay and Joel Nowacki have five children together. Their family calls the southside of Indianapolis their home. Kellie created a business that gives back in a huge way — specifically to women at risk of and survivors of human trafficking.
Although it’s a worthy and notable cause, this business was actually born during a very low point in Kellie’s life. What’s so inspiring is how Kellie took something so dark and used it to radiate light. In a recent Q&A, Kelli talked about The Lemondime and what drives her. Here’s what she had to say.
Kellie, what is The Lemondime and how did you get into that business?
The Lemondime is a piece of handmade, faith-based and inspirational jewelry and accessory company who seeks to employ at-risk women and survivors of human trafficking here in Indianapolis. However, it started completely differently. It was truly born out of a very dark place in my life. After getting married and having children right away, I found that I had lost my passion for art and creating. I made choices that led me far from my faith and family and became very depressed. It wasn’t until I got out my sewing machine that the spark of creating came back to me.
Years ago, I would host craft weekends for women. I would teach them how to sew, make several other crafts, and it built beautiful friendships. After making some necklaces for the women as gifts, people began to ask me to make more for purchase. Eventually, I was asked to put words on them, and that’s how the current inspirational line was born.
After traveling to Cambodia and being introduced to the world of sex trafficking, I made the decision to figure out a way that I could do something to combat this issue right here in my own city. It’s more prevalent than most people realize.
We launched a Kickstarter campaign this past spring to expand our line and current studio space to be able to hire at-risk women and survivors and blew our $25,000 goal away by $7,000!
What is your greatest joy from owning your own business?
The stories of what our jewelry does for people. The words mean a lot to them. It’s seeing something so small make such a powerful impact.
What makes you stand out?
There are a lot of organizations providing dignified work for survivors of human trafficking but in other countries. I want to give women right here in Indianapolis a safe place to work, a place they can find grace and love… an environment that builds them up as they heal from their past of sexual trauma. I’ve experienced my own trauma and after many years of therapy, I’m in a place to be able to provide that for others.
What has been challenging?
My biggest challenge has been my own pride, and it’s taken a long time to wrestle with my own control and fear of letting go of control.
What has this challenge taught you?
It has taught me that I am not perfect, and to try an attain perfection is exhausting.
Do you give back to the community on top of this business? If so, how?
YES! We have donated hundreds of pieces to various local events, non-profits, organizations and church groups. We also give back a portion of sales from the “End It Movement” necklaces to Hope Center Indy, a local human trafficking refugee center on the east side of the city. We send monthly support to Center for Global Impact and the Rapha House. All of these organizations carry the same mission and vision of the Lemondime, which is to help others heal and provide resources for those who experienced human trafficking.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from what I’m currently going through, good and bad. Over the years, I feel that people are looking for someone to connect with that understands their greatest joys and deepest sorrows. I try and design pieces that reflect what I’m working through — that tell a story that someone can relate to.
What would you tell your younger self today?
You have a gift to share with the world… don’t waste time feeling unworthy of success or being scared of what you’re capable of.
What drives you?
When others believe in me when I don’t believe in myself.