At 39, Centennial Hills resident Melissa Santaella has found her third calling in life.
A year ago, Santaella, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former animal rescue organizer, began dedicating all of her energy to creating a simple message hidden inside a gardening pot.
“When I moved to Sin City, I realized that there are a lot of hurting people here, so I created this business to offer a message of hope and encouragement,” Santaella said. “I’m recycling and reimagining pieces to restore them with Scripture hidden in every pot.”
Her journey started in 2011 when she enrolled in an interior design program in New York City.
Soon after she moved to Las Vegas, she put her skills to the test and began flipping homes, but she said she felt the need to narrow it down, so she switched to restoring furniture. Still unsatisfied, she began customizing and restoring personalized items.
She felt she was getting closer to her next journey.
“I started putting hidden Scripture messages inside home decor pieces, and soon people started calling me months later saying they found my Scripture at a time when they were really down and out,” Santaella said. “It’s like doing ministry at a distance.”
Soon after, she began buying pots from flea markets and restoring them to create gardening kits with a bag of organic soil, flower or herb seeds. That was the start of her business, Flipped with Script Redesign.
Her home-based business sells pots from $12 to $125, depending on the size, and each comes with a messenger card and hidden Scripture.
Larger pots contain Plant Nanny watering stakes designed so a recycled wine bottle rests securely inside and provides a ready supply of water.
“It’s a self-sustaining little harvest people can grow indoors,” Santaella said. “Each pot is unique with a design that speaks to people. The way I see it, people will pick a pot with the Scripture intended for them.”
She wants the pots to offer a message of faith, hope and support when a person needs it most, she said. She also uses her creativity to partner with local charities and donates refurbished items to silent auctions.
Her business formed after witnessing various casualties of life.
Santaella joined the U.S. Air Force after high school and served for approximately 12 years. She was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, where she worked on operations of global ministry. During that time, she said she saw a lot of people suffering from war-related injuries.
She was eventually relocated to New Mexico with her husband and began noticing homeless dogs. She learned that many were being euthanized at a shelter.
Instead of standing on the sidelines, Santaella decided to retire from the Air Force as an E7 master sergeant and started the nonprofit organization Wandering Tails to offer dogs on death row a second chance.
“I started having (post-traumatic stress disorder), not from the wars but from the animals I couldn’t save,” Santaella said. “I started my business because I decided to take another 360 turn and do something happy.”
Santaella’s sister Stacy Balais said she has supported her sister through her journey because she believes in the comfort and faith that the messenger pots bring.
In October, after Balais’ 7-year-old son went to visit people in an assisted living home with the Cub Scouts, he noticed that some seniors did not have items on the shelves inside their rooms. He wanted them to know that someone still cared for them, so he asked Balais to help give them a gift. She immediately thought of Santaella’s messenger pots.
“The way I see it, these messenger pots are God winks,” Balais said. “Some people don’t have family in their life. But through this simple action, I hope they find comfort whether it be by the words in the Bible or through the love that the messenger pots bring.”
In addition, Santaella offers customized messenger pots that can be created with personalized photos, messages or artwork.
She said she hopes to share a space inside a boutique and have her own delivery truck.
“I’m in Sin City, and it’s not very embracing or welcoming to what I’m doing, but I’m doing it because I’m a soldier,” Santaella said. “Whether you’re a believer or nonbeliever, I just want to offer an encouraging word.”
For more information, visit etsy.com/shop/flipwithscript or facebook.com/flipwithscript.
Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.