When I got the idea for Talking Shop, I initially thought, “Hey, this will be a great way to get more content up on my site!” I realized quickly, however, that it would become SO much more than simple blog posts or industry-related interviews. No, Talking Shop has evolved into one of my favorite passion projects. It feels like a divinely-inspired journey — one I was guided to be on by a loving, heavenly hand. I know, I know, that sounds overdramatic and silly. But it’s true. Reaching out to and talking with such talented, kind, and creative people has proved to be one of my favorite and most important undertakings, and the process has blessed, inspired, and fulfilled me in so many ways. My goal is that these interviews uplift and inspire you, too.
This week, I’m sharing an extra-special Talking Shop, featuring Rio Grange of Work + Wonder. Rio is a designer and creator of the original General Conference workbooks. These beautifully-designed workbooks feature the work of talented artists and help General Conference listeners enhance their Conference experience. Rio also leads a meaningful week-by-week study of the General Conference talks filled with inspiring insights from writers (I got to contribute a few weeks ago!) and fosters an inspirational community and social following. Rio inspires me to listen to divine nudges, trust celestial confirmations, and bravely pursue my dreams. In this week’s feature, she talks with us about reframing “mistakes” as lessons, giving ourselves grace in gospel study, and discovering her own divinely-inspired journey to Work + Wonder. (Plus, spoonerisms and birth certificates for toads.)
I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE THIS. Everyone, meet Rio!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Alpine, UT, oldest of five, and definitely fulfilled my role as the bossy older sister. But thankfully to make up for that, I was fearlessly creative in ways to entertain my three younger sisters (my little brother Jack came years later, we joke he has five moms). For example, one summer evening when I was about 12, I designed and printed out birth certificates for each and every toad we caught that night in our backyard. We’d name it, guess the age and weight, draw a picture of our new toad baby, then toss it is a kiddie pool with all the other captives.
Tell us about your background in design.
Knowing this natural creativity was always within me, it was near the end of my high school years that I learned I could make a career of my desire to create in graphic design. So I declared my major at Utah State University and never looked back. I loved every minute of all four years, and no doubt I will be that weird parent who follows their kids to college.
How did Work + Wonder get started?
I knew I wanted to create something of my own, and if I could combine my passion for the Gospel with my creative talents, I couldn’t imagine anything more fulfilling. So when the Church announced the new Come, Follow Me curriculum and that we would be studying conference talks in our Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, I immediately thought, “there must be a way then to capture our impressions from General Conference so we can come prepared and gain all we can from these messages!” And following that first prompting, it all felt very guided. Not easy, mind you, but guided by His hand, like an unfolding of something that was always meant to be there.
How did you develop the workbooks? What was the process like?
The process involved a lot of trial and error, and a lot of wasted paper as I printed page after page from my personal printer at home. When I felt that I had the prompts right, I invited several of my girlfriends over to meet me to go over this new workbook I was creating for Conference. Similar to a focus group, you might say. We discussed the overall concept and dove into the finer details, and it was the first time I felt like this could really be a benefit to every listener.
How do you prioritize spirituality in your life?
This is a great question and one I am grateful for. Because believe it or not, I need this reminder often. It is a constant effort to prioritize spirituality in my life, not only for Work + Wonder as a whole, but especially for me personally. I find that often I am studying for content or the next thought I can share with my community, so I really have to check-in every now and then and ask, “what am I doing for myself, to draw closer to Christ?” Then I dive into the scriptures and messages of conference with that motive. I also realize that for me, I have to keep things flexible and allow myself to fluctuate how much and when I study. If I keep to rigid of a schedule, I feel l get discouraged when I can’t keep it. So I give myself grace and study all that I can, when I can, and try to be grateful for whatever that looks like.
Your favorite gospel study tip?
This may not be the kind of tip you’re looking for, but I always want to answer this question with this: the best thing you can do for your gospel study is to be proud and grateful for the effort you made that day. I often find myself barely making it through a chapter due to a busy or tired mind, then leaving the scriptures feeling discouraged and defeated, telling myself “you should be able to do more.” So something I’ve begun to do is end my study with gratitude and a pat on my back for the verse or chapter I just read. Making sure I leave feeling like I did my best and gave the time I had to God. This allows me to feel excited and encouraged for the next time I study. Instead of dreading it, feeling like, “why even try if you can only do one verse?” I hope I can create positivity around my study experiences so I keep coming back for more.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as you’ve run your own business?
Oooh, so many! But the first that comes to mind is mistakes and mishaps are not actually that— they are lessons learned and stepping stones to where you need to be. I was so worried early on about getting everything perfect and just right, that when something didn’t go according to plan, I panicked! And even further, I wallowed and wondered WHY? I spent a lot of time frustrated over things I could not change or had no control over. But I am realizing now what wasted energy that was. And now I can see the silver linings from all those said “mistakes.” God always has a plan and a reason. Our eyes may be opened to them later, but either way, we must always choose to trust and believe that in the end, He wants us to succeed. And sometimes in order to do so, lessons need to be learned.
How have you learned to balance motherhood and your business?
I haven’t! This is an ongoing battle and one I’m not sure I’ll ever master. And that’s because my business and my children are ever-growing and evolving. So we may finally find a rhythm that works, when all of a sudden it’s time to potty train my daughter (I say that because that day is nearing)! But something I hope to keep trying to do is compartmentalize my work and time with my family. I want to keep them separate as much as possible. Though I love to involve my son when I’m shipping workbooks or taking photos, and so when I do, I make the focus on him. But when it’s work time, it’s go time. And I try to be as productive as possible so I can truly be all there when I put on the “mom hat.” This means emails aren’t answered as fast, this means Instagram posts my not be posted until after midnight, and it also means that I might miss a family bike ride that afternoon. It takes sacrifice, but wherever I am, I hope I can truly be there.
What have you gained from your community of customers and followers?
So. Much. And what a great question, because I haven’t taken time to articulate this yet. But the word that comes to mind is perspective. I love sharing my thoughts via social media because it opens the doors for more perspectives to be shared — like things that I hadn’t thought about, things I had not noticed at first, or understood in that way before. I believe this is one of the greatest ways we can feel closer as a community, is to be open to these perspectives and welcome them. The other thing I have gained is confirmation that I am doing the Lord’s work. I started this company on some confirmations, but it wasn’t until I began to hear how these workbooks were changing the way people experience conference that I realized I was only an instrument in His hands to create such a tool as this. I am so grateful every single day.
How have you learned to continue engaging in the marvels of the gospel?
Since having kids, this is an easy and quick answer. It has been an absolute joy to see the gospel through their eyes and to realize all over again how magnificent His plan is for each of us.
What gets you through the hard days?
Several things actually! First, knowing that I am on the Lord’s errand and that He has called me to this work. When the days get hard, I tell myself, “I have been lead to this point so purposefully, He will lead me through it.” Another motivation is that because of the endless support from my community and the success of this business, my husband is able to pursue his dream and goals as a personal and corporate Life Coach. It has been so fulfilling to see him experience the same excitement I have when pursuing something you absolutely love and to see it change people’s lives.
What inspires you?
I have my favorite accounts and Pinterest boards as a go-to when I need a refresh. But when I need something more, I turn to magazines, actually. I love tangible beauty you can find there, especially in Magnolia Journal. Then when I really need to get my mind out of a rut, I get outside and unplug. I go a little extreme and disappear from responsibilities for a few days, usually with my family, and remember where my priorities are. That helps me to come back with a renewed sense of purpose and vision.
The Fun Qs:
What is your favorite meal?
Mmm…I’d say a medium-rare steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus! So random I know, but steak is just SO my favorite.
The best movie you’ve seen recently?
Recently, I loved Wonder! And The Upside. Any feel-good comedy is right up my alley.
What are your favorite out-of-office activities?
If I feel like staying home, I love to organize and reorganize household items. It gets dangerous because I love to purge and get rid of things — sometimes I love it a little too much! I also love to practice yoga, and wish I did so more — one of my goals as of late! Otherwise, keeping up with my husband in the outdoors! We really enjoy skiing and backpacking together, and the occasional mountain bike ride if I’m feeling up to a good workout. Then, of course, the adventure is complete when we get to bring the kiddos along!
What makes you laugh?
Spoonerisms, Kristen Wiig, my husband trying to remember lyrics to songs, and my kids dancing to those said “lyrics.”
What is your hidden talent?
Well in contrast to my husband, I actually have a steal-trap memory for lyrics. Unlike the awful memory I have for the important things I actually should be remembering, if you put on 2008 hip-hop jam, I’ll sing every word.
*GIVEAWAY! I’m giving away an October 2019 Conference workbook from Work + Wonder. To be entered to win, simply follow me and @workandwonder on Instagram, and comment on this post with your favorite General Conference talk from April 2019. Giveaway ends 9/11.
(US residents only. Giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by Work + Wonder. Giveaway will be closed at 11:59 pm CT 9/11. Winner announced 9/12. Good luck!)