This week we are featuring Jennie of The Cove Company! We love her incredibly cute handmade cards. You can just see the excellent quality and attention to detail Jennie puts into each one. With a lot of aspects of design going digital, it’s nice to see The Cove Company keeping their products one of a kind. Cards can really go a long way in showing someone you care and letting them know that they’re special, and with Jennie’s products, you can give a card just as unique as the receiver! Whether you’re looking for a laugh and a little sass or something sentimental, The Cove Company has it all! To learn more about Jennie and her handmade business, read on!
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: My name is Jennie, fun fact – full name is just Jennie. I am 25 years old and currently live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. By day, I work in ecommerce marketing for a large retail brand & by night (and weekend, and every minute of time outside of work) I own The OwlCoves (soon to be renamed The Cove Company)!
: We love your greeting cards and prints! How did you discover you had a talent for crafting and designing?
: I’ve always been a crafty person. I used to volunteer myself for any creative piece to the school projects and ask my friends if I could do their part too. When I was in high school and you had to go get your digital camera or disposable camera pictures printed at the CVS, I would scrapbook every single one of them into albums. So creating greeting cards was pretty natural for me. I’ve definitely always had an entrepreneurial side but I never intended to start a business. I just put a card together one day for my sister’s friend and thought, what the heck – let me list this on Etsy too. Not even two days later, I got my first sale on that card and the rest was pretty much history.
: Where did you come up with the name “The OwlCoves” and how did you decide what to sell?
: The Cove piece to it comes from one of my favorite places to visit – my aunt’s house on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. She lives in this quiet little neighborhood called Cove Creek Country Club – we just refer to it as The Cove. For the owl part of it – owls have been a long standing joke in our family. Way before they were a trend, my aunt was obsessed with them; started making these felt owl ornaments and giving them to us at literally every occasion (I mean I have like 10 around my house). The rest of my family thought it was hysterical but I tried to seriously get her to start selling them on Etsy. She wouldn’t budge so I set up a shop for her myself, told her I would manage it for fun, and listed all her felt ornaments. We came up with the name one day as a play on “alcove” so it combined two of our favorite things.
I guess that’s where I decided what to sell. I managed her items on Etsy but thought “hey, why don’t I get in on this?” I thought that a greeting card would be a great compliment to the ornaments/small gifts she had listed, so I went for it. Today, we’re no longer selling the felt on Etsy – just at small local craft shows so the site is solely focused on greeting cards and paper goods. In 2017, I’m going to be re-branding to The Cove Company – still keeping that element of where that first card was made at “The Cove”.
: Your business truly has that handmade/maker quality since your card images are all assembled by hand! What made you want to design your cards like this and what is your favorite part about hand creating these cards yourself?
: I wish I could remember the thoughts running through my head when I made that first card. What made me cut so many little pieces, glue them together and pop those penguins off that card? From that first card, I just considered it my way to stand out against the competition. A lot of greeting card & stationery designers out there design their cards digitally and have them professionally printed in the hundreds. For me, I thought this was a way to stand out among everyone else. Unfortunately, the process does take about 100x longer than most other greeting cards but I could never give up that unique element to it. I love how the pieces come together at the end to create such a life-like shape and pop off the card. Seriously, who can resist those tiny slices of pizza that were assembled by hand with little pepperonis, onions, and peppers hand drawn on them?!
: We love that many of your cards have unique sayings! How do you get inspiration for what to say or design on your cards?
: A lot of my best ideas just pop into my head. When I try to sit down and think of a funny saying or an awesome new design, it just doesn’t happen. Sometimes I’ll hear something funny or my friends & family tell me I should make a card that says this or that. Then the ideas usually just evolve from there with different shapes or variations of the card. Other times they start with something I know I want to incorporate into a card – like one of our best sellers “Your birthday is almost as important as pizza”. I knew I wanted pizza in some form on a card (because who doesn’t love pizza) and now I have a few designs with funny pizza sayings!
: How has your store/business developed since it first started? What have you learned along the way?
: Oh my gosh – how much time do you have? Well in regards to my business, it’s still a one man show that’s run out of my parents basement. The difference two years later is that I took over pretty much the whole basement instead of one little desk in the corner! My store has grown tremendously, I cringe (like most do) when I look back at the product photos I started with, the methods I used to use to finish cards, and the unnecessary amounts of time I spent on certain tasks. But people kept buying them! Along the way I just researched and played with different ways to make my process shorter and more efficient since it’s just me and I only have a limited amount of time after work each day to get things done for the business.
: It must be hard to pick a favorite, but if you were a customer choosing a card for a friend or family member, which one would you choose!?
: Well it would definitely depend on the occasion. For a birthday, I would go with our “Hope your birthday is poppin'” with a little popcorn shape, and that’s only because popcorn is my favorite food to eat. It works for everyone – no matter what gender or age they are! If it was for your spouse or anniversary or best friend – I would go with one of our newest arrivals that says “We’re better together.” and features teeny tiny cookies & milk shapes. I think this is a great card to send just because you want to tell someone what they mean to you. I know what it’s like to be in a long distance relationship so this is one of my favorites for your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend or even best friend!
: What sort of things can we expect to see in The OwlCoves shop next? (Future plans, things you’re currently working on, etc.)
: I’m hoping to be able to focus more time on the business so that I can really start to grow & accomplish everything I want to. I’m going to be in my first trade show in February so hoping to add a bunch of new stores to carry The Cove Company. I was also just officially accepted into the 2017 National Stationery Show, which is so incredibly exciting – and nerve wracking! A lot of my time in the new year will be focused on getting myself and my brand ready for those two big shows. I’m currently working on a catalog, some new packaging elements, new marketing materials, and a lot of other good stuff to really align everything I’m doing as a brand. And of course – always adding new card designs to my shop!
: What has been the most exciting aspect of having your own business so far?
: Definitely the possibilities. You know, I’m still working a 40+ hour a week job so unfortunately The OwlCoves only happens every morning before work, every night after work, and every weekend. It’s hard to balance anything else in my life right now but the possibilities are what keep me going. Image what I could do spending just 10 more hours a week on The OwlCoves! Right now I barely have time for anything other than keeping up with orders. But I have big plans for this business and that’s the most exciting part – there are so many possibilities and I get to decide what those are.
: Any advice for other crafters or business owners out there?
: Go for it. I always used to be skeptic when people say, if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. But honestly, it’s been so true – the more work and time I put into this business, the more success I get out of it. 3 years ago when I graduated college, I couldn’t believe my life was going to be sitting at a desk, inside an office, for 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week, for the next 40 years. I saw it all planned out for the next few decades of my life because that’s what they tell you – get a good degree, get a good job, and make money. But that’s not everything for some people, you can live your dreams if you go after them and know what you want. Your side hustle that you love can be your full time job, I know it’s scary (hence why I’m still working a full time corporate job) but you can make money doing what you love if you keep at it. My cards have given me a passion to keep going for and they’ve allowed me to see a new future of being my own boss and utilizing my creative skills for work that I love doing.
I have a quote hanging in my studio that says “don’t just follow your dreams, chase them”