Cottage Industry


“She makes linen garments and sells them;

She delivers sashes to the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:24

It all starts with an idea about something we are familiar with.  Susan Walvius and Michelle Marciniak were women’s basketball coaches when they stumbled on the idea of making bed sheets from the same material athletic wear is made. Walvius stated she liked the feel of her comfortable running shorts and thought that the fabric would make excellent bed sheets. Marciniak agreed and their business SHEEX offering performance bedding was born.  It is now a multi-million dollar business and it all started from the comfort of a pair of shorts.

Another fascinating idea is Angie’s list.  Angie Hicks got the idea when business partner Bill Oesterle, her mentor from her time as a college intern at a venture capital firm, had trouble finding a contractor for his home. The pair figured there should be a better way for consumers to share information. They went on to found Angie’s List in 1995.  Today the company covers more than 200 markets and has roughly 750,000 members. The business has received more than $50 million in investment capital from several sources, and it was named to the Inc. 500.

These companies and many others started out with an idea a woman had and it turned into an extremely lucrative venture.  This is what our virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 has done.  She has taken what she knows and is familiar with and turned it into a source of extra income for her family.

As we have seen in previous verses, the virtuous woman takes great care to buy flax (v. 13) and make fine clothing for her family and herself (v. 19, 21, & 22).  She then takes this fine material that she has made and uses it to turn a profit.  She may set up a booth at the local market and sell the linen garments that she has made, and she also sells her sashes to merchants so they can also sell her wares.  The word merchants is also translated several times in the Old Testament as Canaanites.  These men would travel around so not only was her merchandise sold locally, but it was also distributed in far off lands.

We must take notice that this comes toward the end of the chapter helping us to see that her priority was her family.  She made sure her family’s needs were taken care of before she sold her goods to those outside the home.  Her first priority was her family and then as she had time she sold the extra she made to the merchants.

As we read this description of this virtuous woman it is easy to be overwhelmed with all that she manages to do, and think, “of course, ‘she rises early’ (v. 15) and her lamp does not go out at night’ (v. 18),  she has so many responsibilities and irons in the fire there is no time for sleep.”  Or we may think “she has servants to help her get things accomplished and be so productive, but servants today are not common among the average middle class.”  We have many modern day conveniences these days that she did not have: dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, vacuum, oven, stove, refrigerator, etc.  Yet why do we feel as if we could never accomplish all this?  It seems the spirit in many Americans these days is a spirit of entitlement to entertainment and down time. Maybe we need to reprioritize our thinking, and lose the sense of entitlement many of us have.  Rather than sit and watch the latest TV program we should sit with a pad of paper and a pen and brainstorm small business ideas that can take what we are familiar and good at and turn it into a way to make money.  We cannot succeed at anything if at first we don’t try.


  1. Is having a small cottage business something you are even interested in?
  1. Do you have a small business idea? If so, what is it?
  1. There are not many entrepreneurial stories in the Bible in regards to women. Read Acts 9:36-43 and record the details of this story.
  1. The Proverbs 31 woman and Tabitha/Dorcas in Acts 9:36-43 both have the same entrepreneurial idea. What business venture where they both involved and why would this be what they were involved in?
  1. Who went to get Peter in Acts 9:38?
  1. Who was standing beside Dorcas when Peter arrived? (Acts 9:39)
  1. Who did Peter call once Dorcas was raised to life? (Acts 9:41)
  1. What was the result in Acts 9:42? Do you think this was in part to Dorcas’s reputation?
  1. How does James 1:27 relate to Dorcas?

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