SHE IS STRONGKaren Lamb Pierce wants women everywhere to know their struggles are not in vain.
By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison
In a world shaded with darkness, Karen Lamb Pierce is trying to point as many women as she can toward the light. Pierce’s idea of creating She Is Strong, a Christ-centered campaign of encouragement for women, came to her nearly two years ago as she was leading an effort to collect household goods for a woman who was moving out of a shelter with almost nothing of her own. In just a few days, Pierce and a network of people helped move her into a fully furnished home.
“She had everything she needed and then some,” Pierce says of the woman. “I was so excited by that. That’s when those three words (She Is Strong) came to me. With every quilt and every lamp, there was a story.”
She Is Strong is based on Proverbs 31:25, which says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
“I wanted to counteract negative with positive, because I really think that’s what we’re supposed to do,” she says. “The concept of good is what we really want to remind women,” Pierce says. “(We want) to inspire and encourage women, to remind them of their self-worth, and courage and strength.”
She Is Strong is a multi-faceted campaign that includes video interviews Pierce conducts with women about their trials and triumphs. Each video is posted to the She Is Strong Facebook page so other women can view them. Another part of the campaign is T-shirt sales. Ten percent of the profits from She Is Strong T-shirt sales goes to various charities chosen by the women Pierce interviews.
“We think that every woman has a passion, and every passion is different,” Pierce says.
Her first interview for She Is Strong was with her mother. The video drew nearly 1,000 views in 24 hours. In May, Pierce took a leap of faith and quit her full-time job to focus on growing She Is Strong. She and her husband, Kane, live in Jemison and have two daughters, Peyton and Megan.
“It was the scariest thing in my life,” she says. “Choosing to just do this was a little bit crazy, but I was just so passionate about the mission we were on.”
When Karen was starting She Is Strong, Urban Barn Clothing Co. owner Colleen Burback expressed interest in selling the T-shirts in her shop off U.S. 280 behind Krispy Kreme. “As soon as I launched She Is Strong, Colleen was the first to say, ‘Hey, let me put your shirts in my store.’ It doesn’t matter to us if you’re 19 or 90; every woman has a story. It’s our job to tell people about it to help others.”
Teresa Evans, one of Karen’s longtime friends, agreed to be interviewed as she battled breast cancer. Evans had endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy––and a toxic reaction to it––when she and Pierce got together for the She Is Strong interview.
“I feel like God allows us to go through things so we can help other people,” Evans says. “There’s a purpose for everything we go through.”
Evans hesitated when Karen first asked her about the interview, but she decided sharing her story and possibly helping someone else was more important than her fears.
“I thought God can’t really use a closed door. If it helped one single person go through a difficult time, that it would be well worth it to me,” Evans says.
And Evans did receive confirmation that she did help at least one person. When she accompanied a family member to the chemotherapy lab for his first cancer treatment, a woman there recognized her from the She Is Strong interview. “She said, ‘I saw your video on one of my darkest days. Just the words you said gave me so much hope,’” Evans says. “I said, ‘You just made my day.’ She was a complete stranger. God never takes His hand off of us. Everything we go through, there’s a purpose and a meaning and a reason.”
Karen also interviewed Reneé Jones, a friend and former co-worker whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease. “When she started this, I was so proud of her,” Jones says, calling Karen “a joy,” “an encourager,” “compassionate,” “amazing” and someone with “a sweet spirit.” “She just asked me to talk about something I was struggling with. It was really good to be able to share what I’m going through.”
In July, Pierce interviewed Bonnie Beard in Arcadia, Florida, about three months after Beard’s husband (and Pierce’s best friend from childhood) died from cancer. When Pierce called Beard to ask her about an interview, Beard says she had an immediate peace about it.
“Through my husband’s cancer journey, he shared his journey on Facebook with all his friends and family. I was kind of the silent partner,” Beard says. “I thought, ‘Wow, God, you’re going to put me out there now that he’s not here. I trusted God to use me in the same way he had used my husband, and he did. I felt like there was somebody out there that was dealing with what I was going through. There’s a peace knowing you’re not alone, and you can help people through your own storm. It changes the way I look at storms that come my way now.”
Beard says she probably wouldn’t have had the boldness to seek out a platform by herself, but She Is Strong opened a door for her to share her story.
“I’m a big supporter of it. I’m excited about the lives it has touched,” Beard says of the campaign. “It’s an awesome thing.”
Karen’s mission is to reach women of all ages and in different walks of life. She Is Strong is not bound by city limits or state lines, socioeconomic status or job title.
“That was her mission, really, to have women encourage other women,” Evans says. She’s trying to do a really good thing.”
Karen is partnering with Advanced Surgeons PC at Grandview Medical Center to provide She Is Strong T-shirts in care packages given to women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
She Is Strong T-shirts are available for purchase at Urban Barn Clothing Co. and Sheisstrong-sis.com. Along with generating money for charitable causes, the shirts serve as tangible reminders of the uplifting message Karen is trying to spread, one woman, one interview, one inspiring story at a time.
“It was really just a passion and grace that got me into this position,” Karen says. “In the middle of all this mess right now, we’re doing a little bit of good. I hope it spreads.”