Perry-May Britton runs Perry-May, an online business selling faith-inspired prints, clothing and journals to help connect people to God and spark conversation
In 2018 I heard God whisper: “put truth on walls”. His message to me was gentle but clear. I knew God was prompting me to use the creative gifts he had given me to unlock truth for others, so I picked up my pen and began to write and illustrate verses. These prints were the start of Perry-May.
I had been working in fundraising part time prior to starting the business, and I had to put myself out there a bit, as is the way with a creative business. Sharing your art can feel exposing.
It is a little outpouring of yourself. For me, my creativity is instinctively a voice for my journey; a journey of deepening relationship with Jesus, for both myself and those around me.
Learning to go deeper
I have been seeking God and chasing after his truth ever since I first gave my life to him, aged nine. Perhaps at times I’ve wondered if I’ve ‘arrived’, but the reality is that the older I get the more I’m aware that I know nothing!
As I discover more of God and my faith deepens, the more I realise that I am so small in the story of his kingdom. I once thought I understood his grace but now, in my early 50s, I realise I haven’t even grasped a tiny fraction of it. His work in me, and my discovery of the depth of his love, is a never-ending journey.
Going deeper with God can be a painful process, involving so many of our worldly desires being stripped away. For years I walked the path of singleness, not marrying my husband, Mike, until I was in my early 40s. This path was agonising and beautiful in equal measure.
At school I was pipped to be the one who would get married and have kids first. In many ways it was all I’d really wanted. And when it didn’t happen and the years went by, the harder it got. I knew I had to keep my hope in the Lord and not a husband. It was an ongoing discipline to keep my focus on Jesus.
I did not always do this well. It was tempting to let singleness define me – it was certainly the label that was commonly placed on me – and it was hard not to let self-pity creep in when year after year I attended countless weddings where I rejoiced outwardly but ached inwardly.
I had a particularly profound encounter that brought breakthrough when I was in my 30s. I experienced a vision of Jesus, tearing the curtain in the Holy of Holies to be with me; his presence both powerfully commanding and disarmingly loving.
I knew in that moment that nothing else mattered and it set the course for my journey thereafter. It was, and is, all about Jesus.
Daily faith inspired my business
Such moments of encounter with God can liberate us and define a season, but the day-to-day outworking of faith can be challenging, as we seek God’s face and discern his voice amid the noise of daily life. I am so acutely aware of this in my own busy life as a wife and mother.
It is essential that we find touch points throughout the day – points of connection with God, and with others, that direct our hearts to sing his praise.
This has been a huge motivation behind starting Perry-May. My prayer is that each of our products will be a spiritual touch point for Christians – drawing their attention to Jesus throughout the day – while also being a conversation starter for friends and family.
My son, Joshua, has been a huge source of inspiration for the products I’ve created. The business has grown with him. I have been intrigued by the things that catch his imagination.
My print on the fruits of the Spirit – God’s Super Powers – sparked conversation over the breakfast table, and prayer in the car on the way to school. I am so desperate for my son to know Jesus, but want to find ways of letting the love I’ve found in Christ flow through me, without imposing my experience of God on him.
I know I’m not alone in this, and that many parents have found the prints I’ve created so helpful in engaging their children in biblical truths in a meaningful way, without intense conversation (which is not always well received).
Perry-May, husband Mike, and their son Joshua
Challenges and confirmations
It makes sense to me that the joy I find in illustration and creativity should collide with my desire to help people walk on a journey of connection and transformation with God. It’s clear that God was in this from the start. But it’s been a bumpy journey and I find this venture a puzzling combination of ministry and business.
Mike and I have felt challenged about our employment journeys since the start of our marriage. In those early months as newlyweds we were both unemployed – I’d chosen to move away from my job in church ministry and Mike was unexpectedly made redundant.
It was a blessing to have so much time together, just us, forging our new life in Sussex. And from that point on we deliberately chose having less so that we could have time together. This has been the priority underlying all our decisions regarding work.
Mike was very involved in the initial set-up of the business and continues to help support Perry-May, but he also has his own online business now, and helps other people to sell online. Starting our own business has aligned with our values of work revolving around family and not vice versa, but it does take a lot of effort and our input needs to translate into making a living.
In reality, progress has been intermittent with sales booming through festive seasons, and dwindling at other times. On occasions I look at the accounts and it feels disheartening. Having your own business is an intense labour of love; everything requires my attention from marketing, to finances, to actually creating the products! Nothing accounts for the amount of time and energy poured in.
“Do we persevere with this?” is a question I’ve been forced to ask at times. But then something happens to remind me that God is in this, and my board of ‘pray-ers’ (my prayer princesses, I call them!) confirm my sense of his presence and calling, and I’m encouraged.
I remember one particular occasion when I was teetering on the edge of feeling disheartened. A children’s Christmas booklet I’d illustrated in partnership with a friend wasn’t bringing the return that we’d hoped it might, considering the hours we’d poured in, when I received an email.
Perry-May, husband Mike, and their son Joshua
A mum had purchased the booklet for the kids who attended her children’s church and her teenage daughter had unexpectedly asked for one. In secret, the daughter read the booklet through advent, and by Christmas she’d given her life to Jesus. Now that is return. Kingdom return.
That’s why running this kind of business isn’t simple. Yes, we need the business to earn money, but I also know that God is working through our products, opening doors for other people to draw close to him. I see the Spirit of God sending out splashes that cause ripples and unlock truth. And these ripples are nothing to do with me; rather they are all to do with Jesus.
Find out more at perry-may.com