When Karla Velis-Brito was just 10 years old, she accompanied her family on a journey from her native El Salvador to California. While there, they visited a ninety-nine cent store. She had never seen anything like it and was entranced by the wide variety and affordable prices of the items. Immediately, Karla began thinking of ways she could emulate this store back home. Though she was only a young child, she borrowed 30 dollars from her parents and bought as many items as she could fit in her suitcase to resell at school and in her neighborhood. Within a week of returning home, she sold all her inventory and made a profit of 70 dollars. This was her very first business model, and she was hooked.
Though Karla was raised in a Christian home, she didn’t always see a connection between the worlds of faith and business. Her parents were pastors and missionaries, so she thought God would only call a person to these types of vocations. But when she came to Kuyper in the fall of 2012, her perspective started to change. “It was at Kuyper where my eyes were opened to the concept that my faith could be part of the way I operated a business. Before, I didn’t think doing that could be my calling from God,” she said as a guest presenter in Kuyper’s speaker series, Ora Et Labora.
As she attended classes for her business leadership major, Karla began learning that, in fact, work and worship need not be divided. “People are called to business just as they are called to education, law and medicine,” she noted. Instead of being simply a method of earning profit, interactions with clients, contractors and team members can be seen as opportunities to display the image of Christ to others. “Our jobs, our businesses take on more meaning and have more impact when we see them as ways of glorifying God,” she said.
Karla has already had several opportunities to embody this philosophy, and her job as a social media consultant is just one of them. She also works for Partners Worldwide, an organization that coordinates efforts around the world to combat poverty by providing business opportunities. They assist individuals living in poverty with loans, mentorship and hands-on training to empower them to start and run businesses in their local communities. This helps foster self-worth as well as much-needed jobs and resources.
Karla also runs a successful photography and videography business called Velis K Photography. She seeks to glorify God through her company by striving for excellence in every aspect of it. She works hard to ensure the quality of her craft because it is a way for her to live out her calling. “I am definitely called to create, and I think we all are. We participate in God’s creation by creating as well, and one way we do that is by building businesses. We can then bring these talents to God as an act of worship,” she said.
Her time at Kuyper College gave Karla a new sense of what it means to impact the world for Christ and His kingdom. “I’ve realized there is a difference between a business owner who is a Christian and a Christian business owner,” Karla said. The distinction, for her, is whether our workplace decisions reflect our faith and worldview. She added, “We need to include God in all of the pieces of our jobs and our lives. It’s all His, and we’re His instruments.”