A Royal Celebration
Meet Founders Ginnie Johansen Johnson & Sarah Johnson
Whether it’s the real life Queen of England, Elizabeth II and her famous family, or the fictitious aristocrats inhabiting Downton Abbey, the world is fascinated by the Royal lifestyle. Mother-daughter team Ginnie Johansen Johnson and Sarah Johnson want to make sure every woman and girl feels like royalty. The authors, speakers, artists, and singer-songwriters combined their talents to start King’s Daughters, an organization based on Psalm 45 celebrating women and helping them embrace their role as heir to the most-high King. They have created 26 categories, one for every letter of the alphabet in their A-Z Regal Lifestyle Collection – from Art Gallery to Zeal for Blessing Israel – all are beautiful reminders of God’s truth. The Johnson’s even travel the country putting on “Regal Celebrations” where women can attend an event that celebrates them as King’s daughters in Christ. Risen sat down with the dynamic duo to learn more about their vision, their celebrations, and how the country of Israel is benefitting from their creative collections.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in Rancho Santa Fe, California
Risen Magazine: Ginnie, let’s go back to your college experience. Unlike many freshman, you designed a ribbon belt that became a staple in establishing your fashion company and even led to President Ronald Reagan giving you a Small Business Administration award. Tell us about this time in your life.
Ginnie Johansen Johnson: My freshman year of college, I designed a grosgrain ribbon belt that matched the preppy clothing I was wearing at Tulane University. That summer, I started selling the belts in Dallas stores and expanded to San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. My dad saw the potential and offered to help me write a business plan. We started Ginnie Johansen Designs and within a year, my belts were in 600 stores! Over the next twelve years, our fashion accessories were sold in 3,000 stores and I was propelled into the world of design, travel, awards, wealth, and popularity.
RM: You had your three daughters and felt called to stop working. What went into that decision? Especially with having your identity tied to being a designer and all that comes with that title.
GJ: At the height of our success I was pregnant with our middle daughter, Sarah, when the Lord spoke to me and said, “Ginnie, I want you to retire and raise the next generation.” I responded, “Lord, I will obey You, but I need You to replace everything I’m leaving with You.” I began a journey of trading in my identity in the world and trading up to my identity in Christ. That was really the trade up, and that is why the name of our book is Trading Up.
RM: Speaking of your book, is that how you first got the vision for your organization, King’s Daughters?
GJ: After my retirement, I reached a very low point. I was still stuck in performance, finding my security in how much I accomplished. I was a stressed out high achiever trying my hardest to be a good wife, good person, good mother, good homemaker and good Christian. During an especially hard time, the Lord sent a dear friend to give me [a word] through a little note with Psalm 45:13: “The King’s daughter is all glorious within.” I read the verse out loud and was immediately infused with my regal identity as a King’s daughter. I went home to study the entire Psalm 45 chapter, especially verse 11 which says, “Listen O daughter, incline your ear…The King greatly desires your beauty.” I suddenly realized God didn’t want my performance. He just wanted me! If that wasn’t exciting enough, the Lord then took me to Luke 15, where the prodigal son comes home and enjoys a party with the father.
It was like I was entering the story, seeing my Heavenly Father wrap His arms around me and invite me to celebrate with Him. That day, I not only received a revelation of my identity, but I also received an invitation from the Lord to celebrate an intimate relationship with Him. After I saw this truth completely transform my life, I started celebrating my three daughters and my friends as King’s daughters with fun dinner parties and Bible studies – then came the paintings, booklets, stationery, and gifts. Little did I know, I was developing every element of King’s Daughters. In 2010, after 14 years of organic development, my daughter Sarah joined me to write our book and put wheels on the King’s Daughters vision. Six years later, the Lord has sent us all over the country doing Regal Celebrations with our A-Z Regal Lifestyle Collection. Isn’t it amazing that God used a little note to spark an endeavor that is bringing His love and identity to women and girls all over the world?
I began a journey of trading in my identity in the world and trading up to my identity in Christ.
RM: Sarah, initially you set out to be a news reporter, how did your focus switch to be part of King Daughters with your mom?
SJ: Similar to my mom, my story also changed with a word from the Lord. I grew up seeing my mom develop King’s Daughters and envision its growth, and even helped her with ideas. My senior year of college, the Lord told me, “Go back to Dallas and I will send you all over the world.” Though I had plans to go anywhere but Dallas to start my news reporting career, I had to obey God’s voice. Back in Dallas, I offered to help my mom write Trading Up for a King’s Daughter. After a summer of seeing how much fun we had working together and realizing King’s Daughters potential, I decided to make our “fun summer project” my full-time career. It was very unexpected, but at the same time, I feel like my entire life prepared me for Kings Daughters.
RM: The chapters of the Trading Up book are paired with songs. Sarah, was this a deliberate decision and, how did the lyrics come to you?
SJ: I have been singing and playing guitar since I was little, but my songwriting really developed the summer we wrote Trading Up for a King’s Daughter. I was learning so much and processing everything through music. I started writing songs that complemented the content of our book, so like a puzzle, we started pairing songs and chapters. Now readers can listen to a song for most of Trading Up’s chapters. But I do not call myself a songwriter. I am a song receiver! Each song echoes my praise to the Lord or His voice to me. My hope is that listeners make the lyrics a prayer of praise to the Lord and hear Him speaking to their heart.
RM: Your brand has grown into more than just the initial book, including art. Share the story of how you two became artists?
GJ: In 2000, I stopped to help a woman who had been in a car accident who turned out to be my daughter’s former art teacher. She invited me to join her women’s weekly painting group. A week later, I showed up and just started painting. The Lord gave me my eight styles over the next few years and I did my first professional art exhibition called “Eight Messages” with 90 paintings to raise money for a Christian radio station that broadcasts the gospel to unreached nations. All my paintings have a Scripture inspired message and I am honored to be filling homes with God’s Word in living color.
SJ: As far back as I can remember, we always had art supplies around my house. My dad made us a huge art table and my mom, because she had retired, was so hands on. She was our art teacher and always encouraged our creativity. I also took several art classes throughout my education, but never had my own fine art style until a few years ago. I locked myself in our art studio until I painted something I loved. That day, my style “Life to the Full” – inspired by John 10:10 – emerged and now, it’s amazing to see my paintings on clients’ walls!
RM: You also designed an A-Z Regal Lifestyle Collection that celebrates women and girls as King’s daughters and inspires a regal lifestyle of truth and beauty. What does a Regal Lifestyle Collection mean to you?
SJ: We want women and girls to be surrounded from sun up to sun down with tangible reminders of their identity in Christ. From the coffee mug they use in the morning, to the book they read before bed. From the art they hang on their wall, to the gifts they give, our A-Z Regal Lifestyle Collection is all about adding celebration, God’s truth, and beauty to every area of women and girl’s lives.
RM: Both of you travel around the country speaking and throwing Regal Celebrations. What is the concept behind these purposeful parties?
GJ: A Regal Celebration is a creative, Christ-centered event that combines our four M’s: The Trading Up message, Sarah’s original music, our Scripture-inspired merchandise, and our mission to bless Israel. We literally roll out a red carpet, put a crown on everyone’s head, and treat them like the royalty they are in Christ. The response has been incredible. One woman couldn’t even make it down the red carpet without bawling. One little girl had her first quiet time after we had everyone picture the chair where they would spend time with the Lord. Other women remember my personal stories or the “With God” cheer we all do together. It’s a heads up, hands on, hearts alive experience! We truly engage the women in an interactive program that sets regal living in motion.
RM: As you have expanded, you now engage Regal Celebrators to plan and host the Regal Celebrations. What is their role in King’s Daughters?
GJ: Regal Celebrators are women who also have a passion to see women and girls live in the fullness of their identity in Christ as King’s daughters. They invite us to bring a Regal Celebration to their home, church, outreach, or charity luncheon. We work together to design a custom event that aligns with their vision and group. After the event, many teach small group Bible studies, host additional events or help spread the word about King’s Daughters. We have been blessed to work with Regal Celebrators with a zeal for the Lord and a zeal for reaching the women and girls in their city with God’s love.
Regal Celebrators are women who also have apassion to see women and girls live in the fullness of their identity in Christ as King’s daughters.
RM: Working with family can be a blessing and a challenge, what has the experience been like since the two of you teamed up?
SJ: My mom has been a great mentor and a personal cheerleader as I learn how to run a business. We have a very close relationship and definitely keep each other laughing. We call our conflicts “constructive debates.” They usually don’t last very long and two minutes later we’re on to the next thing.
GJ: It’s amazing that the daughter that caused me to retire, also has caused me to “re-fire” my career with King’s Daughters. We often think the same thoughts at the same time. It’s a delight to work with a young woman who wears so many hats: graphic designer, editor, author, speaker, singer-songwriter, and more! Most of all, she’s filled with the Word of God that overflows into everything she does.
RM: A percentage of every sale from King’s Daughters goes to Ariel, Israel. Ginnie, can you share the story of how God gave you a heart for Israel?
GJ: I went on a prayer trip to the land in 1996 with my pastor, Dr. Robert Mawire, and God did an extraordinary work in my heart showing me the importance of praying for and blessing His people. The entire trip, my left side was physically burning. At the time, I thought I was being healed of a recently diagnosed breast tumor. But I got home and it still had to be removed. So I asked the Lord, “What was that burning on my left side?” God replied, “Ginnie, when you pray for Israel, it’s like Drano® [strong drain pipe cleaner] pouring over your heart. I was getting rid of all the built-up plaque of sin and old habits. I was healing your heart.” That was incredible! Praying for Israel had brought purification and healing to my heart and really every area of my life after that.
RM: Sarah, ironically your heart for Israel developed at a very young age too. You even wrote a song for Jerusalem.
SJ: I very clearly remember the day I wrote my first song for Israel. I was sitting on my bed hearing the Lord give me words and a melody. I do not think I realized the power of that moment, but God was giving me a heart for Israel at eight years old. But probably the most powerful experience I had was after we started King’s Daughters. One night, I was praying for Israel before I fell asleep. I started hearing my heart beat audibly. Every heartbeat resounded through my entire body. I had never experienced anything like it! I asked the Lord, “What are you telling me?” I heard Him say, “This is my heart for Israel. My heart beats for her to know me.”
RM: Where do the funds given to Israel actually go?
SJ: Dr. Mawire introduced me to the founder and late mayor of Ariel, Israel, Ron Nachman and his wife Dorith. We developed a close relationship and I have supported the city ever since. When Sarah and I started King’s Daughters, we wanted to give to Ariel so we visited the city to find a specific philanthropic cause. We gave the first donation to help launch The Ariel Warm Home, an after-school counseling and activity program for at-risk teenage girls, often victims of abuse. We have since expanded our philanthropic partnership, giving to A-Z causes in the city.
SJ: We believe that God’s promises are unchanging. He promised Abraham, “I will bless those that bless [Israel]. I will curse those that curse [Israel]” (Psalm 122:6). It is absolutely a blessing to obey what the Word says about praying for Israel and honoring our Jewish roots.