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Wofford grad credits divine inspiration for new business

By Trevor Anderson
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
trevor.anderson@shj.com
Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mary Grace Wallace / Spartanburg Herald-JournalAll good things seem to happen in coffee shops for recent Wofford College graduate Grace Wallace.

Three years ago, the Spartanburg native was sipping java in a café in the south of France when she scripted out the concept for her ecumenical startup stationery business WritefullyHis LLC.

Wallace, 22, said her ideas continued to percolate as she returned stateside during her junior year to work as an intern at the education and policy studies organization, the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.

“I had no idea where this was going to go,” Wallace said. “I just felt God calling me to do this. He gave me the idea and the vision. I decided to follow.”

In September, Wallace’s business started brewing as she launched her company from Wofford’s Mungo Center for Professional Excellence while finishing up her studies, which included a major in humanities and minor in business.

The proceeds from her sales go to the faith-based nonprofit Xchange International to provide paper and pencils to children at schools in Uganda and other impoverished countries in Africa.

In June, Wallace went on a three-week visit to Uganda to meet some of the students who were being reached by her contributions. While sitting in a coffee shop in the city of Jinja, near the banks of Lake Victoria, a friend introduced her to Uganda-born artists Angelo Edrine Wasike and Jaffer Buyinza of the Jinja Art Studio.

The chance meeting quickly yielded a partnership between Wallace and the artists and the opportunity for Wasike and Buyinza to produce a line of handcrafted, Africa-inspired cards that will be sold in the United States, but will benefit the children of their community.

“It was a God thing,” Wallace said. “It’s exciting because it’s really a chance to showcase their talent. The people of Uganda like to take ownership of things. And (the artists) are so excited about this opportunity, but they’re even more excited to be having an impact on their community. Allowing Spartanburg to be a part of this is a bonus.”

In April, Wallace and nine of her classmates competed in a high-energy entrepreneurial event modeled after ABC’s hit series “Shark Tank” in The Space at the Mungo Center for the chance at $10,000 in prizes and startup money.

During the competition, Wallace was introduced to Nate Harceg, a Wofford graduate and assistant marketing manager for Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. They spoke for two hours after the event near the Mungo Center’s café and coffee bar.

Harceg eventually offered her an opportunity to get WritefullyHis merchandise into Wal-Marts across the nation.

Wallace began “getting her ducks in a row,” and the partnership with the artists in Jinja was just the boost she needed before meeting Wal-Mart officials to discuss offering her products in stores in January, with a national rollout by the end of the year.

“I can’t believe how much it has grown,” Wallace said. “God just put this love for Africa in my heart … He gave me this company to be a steward of it, and I’m putting everything in his hands. It has been such a blessing.”

Wallace’s sister, Amy-Kate Wallace, and mother, Beth Wallace, who serves as Wofford’s director of health services and associate dean of students, are helping out in the venture.

On Aug. 15, Wallace will be a featured guest on WSPA’s lifestyle show, Carolina Now.

Wallace graduated from Dorman High School in 2009. She was a standout volleyball player with scholarship offers from several schools, including Wofford, but instead decided to focus on academics because she wanted to study abroad.

“It was the best decision I ever made because it was while study abroad that I came up with the idea for WritefullyHis,” she said.

For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/writefullyhis.

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