Episode 38: Bringing Diversity To Your Celebrations, with Jacquelyn Rodgers

October 5, 2021

Today’s guest has been on our wish list for months now, so I am SO PUMPED to be able to share her story with you all. Jacquelyn Rodgers is the founder of Greentop Gifts, which brings diversity to your celebrations with apparel, home décor and stationery. Jacquelyn dives into her past career at Mars, selling candy to retailers (umm, ok talk about FUN)!! She then jumps right in to why she started Greentop Gifts; she wanted to share the celebratory memories that she had with her mother with her son, but noticed none of the décor matched what their family looked like. She gives me the full details on how she made this idea come to fruition and when she took the jump all in to Greentop Gifts (and wishes she had sooner). She sheds light into how her past experienced helped her jump in so quickly and how she knew it was time to outsource.

Jacquelyn then talks about who her audience is and how she markets to them. We then touch on how COVID has impacted her, but at home and with Greentop Gifts. She also tells me what her family thinks about her business (including the cutest story about her daughter). Finally, we chat about how she preps for holiday season and how that has changed and evolved year over year.

Jacquelyn has tapped into something that is so necessary for our culture today — she is celebrating diversity and allowing children and families to see themselves in the designs and décor they choose to celebrate with! You will love what Jacquelyn shares with me and as a fun bonus, she is giving our listeners a discount!

Use code CHAOS21 for 15% off your purchase at Greentop Gifts, and make sure to check out her site for new products and designs!! Also, for some fun, check out their Instagram and Facebook as well as her personal account for some family insights!

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38. Bringing Diversity To Your Celebrations, with Jacquelyn Rodgers

Today’s guest has been on our wish list for months now, so I am SO PUMPED to be able to share her story with you all. Jacquelyn Rodgers is the founder of Greentop Gifts, which brings diversity to your celebrations with apparel, home décor and stationery. Jacquelyn dives into her past career at Mars, selling candy to retailers (umm, ok talk about FUN)!!

Atlanta-based and Black-owned, Greentop Gifts is a family-run, woman-owned business known for its multicultural celebration decor, apparel, gifts and gifting supplies.  The brand’s Celebration Crew and Clarence Claus characters have quickly cemented Greentop Gift’s place in African American and families of color households who look for representation during birthday  and holiday moments.  Founded in 2016 after founder and CEO Jacquelyn Rodgers couldn’t find wrapping paper that featured a Black Santa, since its launch, Greentop Gifts has received notable media attention from numerous outlets, including Essence, UK Daily Mail, Blavity and People.

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies. First, we have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans, and made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance with a two year old and newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos.

Welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos I am here today with a very exciting guest as always, I feel like I say that actually every single episode but every single time I have somebody new come on this podcast it’s for a reason and we have been talking to this specific guest and been excited to get her on here for a while so I cannot wait to share with you guys that Jacqueline Rogers is here today she’s with green top gifts, and I’m just so honored to have you and welcome.

Jacquelyn: Thanks so much for having me excited to be here.

Dana: Yeah, so Okay, Jacqueline give us a quick overview of what Greentop Gifts is all about and what it does currently present day and then we’ll rewind and tell your story.

Jacquelyn: So Greentop Gifts we specialize in bringing diversity to holidays and special moments with unique gift wrap home decor and apparel and our products been featured on Oprah Magazine or beyonce.com, and NBC News.

Dana: Oh cool, and she’s doing my podcast I’ve like I was telling her just before we started recording that she’s a reach guest we are very excited that she did come on. So we are so so pumped for you to be here. So, Jacqueline talked to me about your life pre green tap gifts, what were you doing career wise, what did your family life look like, what did your day to day weekly hustled feel like how did your life feel before Greentown gifts was founded.

Jacquelyn: Prior to Greentop Gifts, I was working, corporate worked for Nestle and then Mars Wrigley for like 13 years selling candy to retailers, working with their buyers to get products at the stores and do promotions and events, and I had my son in 2000 and we have more kids you forget your like we she was like in 2014 2014 and shortly after that, just you know get ready for the holidays are so important and my family, my mom is the reason kind of this company she just loved every holiday every moment, you know, putting Christmas trees in every corner of our house and decorating angels and activities so like brown like our family. So when I had my son I wanted to share those moments with him, and I quickly realized there was no product like ours in the stores and so I told my husband, I think I’m just gonna like get on Photoshop and like make some wrapping paper and then like go to Kinko’s and print it. And he kind of was like okay, and real casual. Right,

Dana: so casual like, I’ll just like Photoshop in something and go to Kinko’s and get a printed like rapid like I’d never that would never would have crossed my mind. You’re a magician.

Jacquelyn: That’s one of my favorite phrases. A lot of people they’re magicians. So yeah, it was something I wanted just for my son, and the more I started to research it and talk to friends that were also like wow I want that too, or you know after looking for something like that. And so looking at, you know, my son has a background in finance, so when I went back to him I was like okay I think I found a manufacturer now I’m not going to print this at Kinkos and I think this is like a viable business. He’s like, Well, let’s look at the numbers, and so then we looked at the numbers and it’s an $8.5 billion market and so he was like, I think this might give me a thing and from there an 18 Wheeler backed into our house garage and delivered four pallets of paper so that’s kind of how it started.

Dana: Wow, and so did you ever have any aspirations to be an entrepreneur, did you ever think hey I want to start my own business or were you kind of happy in your corporate life like how did your mindset work around on starting this but personally the plan.

Jacquelyn: That was a huge leap so entrepreneurship is something that’s been in my family, you know, my dad was an entrepreneur. He always worked himself, he was a photographer and he did school photography, and he did residential real estate so growing up I’ve, you know, followed him along and went to different meetings and events or you know, to see vendors and go to schools and so, entrepreneurship, something I always saw and he was really proud of it because his father was also an entrepreneur, and had a restaurant that was called green top, which was a source of celebration and community in our neighborhood and town and so that was kind of our Ode to My family’s for started entrepreneurship I named the company.

Dana: So, oh, I didn’t realize that that’s amazing, that is so perfect, it’s like very seasonal To me that’s like, totally, the perfect name I’m very impressed.

Jacquelyn: Yeah, that was kind of, I have always grown up around entrepreneurship, but my dad was like he really needed some corporate experience after graduate of college and so I went into, you know, interviews from college, right to working in CPG companies, and enjoyed it, I’d love to be able to travel I enjoyed, you know, every day was different, you know I was account manager and work with customers and I got to work with candy. It was so much fun. But as I grew in my roles, and was promoted it started to be less of the creative and more of like the finance and the planning and the forecasting, and I wasn’t able to use my creativity as much anymore and so I found myself, you know like kind of okay I’m doing and I’m enjoying the paycheck every two weeks I like the company are the insurance provides, but I wasn’t at all the bills and I remember being in a meeting and one of my managers we were doing like a group project and I was sketching on this poster board because I was bored in this meeting, and I had like all these markers and highlighters and I’m just trying to make whatever we were doing, fun, and he goes, I just, I don’t think we’re using your creativity enough after I present it. And I chuckled to myself because at that point I had started the company, and I was like, Yeah, but I’m probably not because I was using it somewhere else, right,

Dana: like I have a new outlet, it’s not here, sorry to say, too little too late.

Jacquelyn: And that was kind of those moments I was like yeah it’s time to go. So yeah, that was kind of what my background was that led me to, to leave so I doubled up so I’ll say and I ran the business. It was really a seasonal company, we launched in 2016, and I left my job in February of 2020 before the world’s like shutdown.

Dana: Oh, interesting timing, timing,

Jacquelyn: and I have only one regret and that’s that I didn’t quit sooner. Last year was our best year, and I had best opportunities and networked and really got to help grow the business because I was committed to a full time, and that is kind of what I wish you know those I wish I’d quit sooner so yeah, that was kind of how it started.

Dana: It’s so hard to be able to see that from the beginning though, right like that is such a hard thing to be able to tell yourself to leave that to security to talk to your spouse about to say hey, I’m leaving this job, you know, and putting all our eggs in one basket. So, what would you say to somebody who’s kind of in that season where they’re like this is a great idea. I know I can make this work, but I do not I can’t, like, I’m not going to do it, like what would you tell them to check for before they make that week.

Jacquelyn: It’s a scary thing, you know, we had a few years of, you know, decent revenue it wasn’t like okay I’m not gonna make my husband a stay at home dad, but it was, it was decent income that’s his dream for me to make him a stay at home dad. That is why I love it, Please let me say it, he won’t know what to do with himself and he got it. But, you know, for us it was my husband. Once I started working on the business that we were doing it, and it was kind of, you know, a July to January type business, and I was enrolled where I could work on at night and I did that and I was so passionate about it that I stay up to three in the morning after I, you know, pick kid up from school. Put him down. You know we’ve had dinner and all that talk to my husband and then I’d work, and it didn’t upset me or make me tired or I didn’t read it because I loved it and I was so excited to get the product to customers, and then as we continue to grow and my promotions at my corporate job started to happen. I didn’t have time and so I was like, my god, it’s time to quit, you know, and he was really pushing me like you need to quit. And I have another friend and she had left her job, we started around the same time she loved her job way sooner than I did. And her company just She’s everywhere, she’s in Target Whole Foods, great friend of mine, so I’m excited for her business and so seeing her growth I was like, It’s time ago like she made the right jump, it’s hard for me to make that same jump so I think it really is around. When you have a viable business and an idea, it’s making money, you know that you can scale it and grow it more if you quit your day job, and I will not say that not having a spouse with the income. Didn’t you know that that that’s not an option for us. And that, that I talked to a fellow entrepreneur the other day and she’s single, she’s like, I don’t, I don’t have a husband with another salary and insurance like if I quit my job. It’s just me and I, that’s not lost on me that I have that situation, but I was grateful that I did and that he encouraged me to quit my job and to work on the business full time so it’s, if you can get funding or you can bootstrap or you can angel or you can, you know, find investors, I would say do it you know the only, you can always go back if you’re great at your job right, always apply and go back to work. You can just say hey I’ll take some time off holders who are passionate about it, you can always go back so there’ll be my advice is when it makes sense in both into the words, and you’ve got a guy out in the market, then I would say take the lead, you know you can always go back to work, you can always find another job.

Dana: See, I think that is so, such a different way of even phrasing it because so many people think, oh, like I quit, I can’t go back like, you just made it so casual, there’s like yeah, just reapply. Go back to work, no big deal. I don’t think people realize that or think that like they think they think, okay, if I make this leap, it’s one and done like that’s it, it’s forever like I have no other alternative option but you really should just remember in the back of your head like hey, it’s not that big of a deal and and I like the way you said, you know, to, I just want to take some time off to pursue my passion, like that is such a, I feel like it makes it less of a jump where it’s like, Hey, I’m going to risk everything and go start this business and it’s all eggs in one basket like peace out like that seems so much more intimidating than just saying hey, like, I’m going to try and focus on something I’m passionate about and, you know, we’ll see where it takes me like that. I think just the way that you approach any sort of situation like this and just, it’s a mindset thing, it really is and I love that. You were so positive about it and it’s just makes it so much more, so much less pressure is put on yourself when you can talk to yourself that way and remember that there’s always a backup and always a solution. So okay, Jacqueline Tell me about your family like what is your son. Think about this, how does how does you running your own business being at home like obviously the pandemic was kind of lined up perfectly and you may have been home anyway. But what does he think about you starting this business.

Jacquelyn: He is super excited about it. He’s six, I have a two year old since we’ve launched the company and she is even in her own way, she, she says things now that cracked me up like I was on my phone the other day and she was talking to me about the Obama portraits are coming to Atlanta, and she was talking and rambling on about it. And so I like put on my phone to record her like talking about her excitement about it because she’d read a book about it and she goes, she gets on the phone and she’s like hi green top, so she thinks whatever, there’s no recording, like she’s talking to our audience of customers, it doesn’t do anything ever. So yeah, they’re super, I like to expose them to entrepreneurship as much as I can to answer your question I’m rambling on, but my dad did that with me I think it’s so important for our children to see entrepreneurship at a young age and know that they can do that they can work for themselves, they can have creative ideas and they can put them into the atmosphere and create them and put them in the universe and they come to fruition. And they can make money from it I think that’s so important for them to see a young guy too, I try to as much as I can take my son with me to the warehouse I take him with me to FedEx Ship things. If you know we had a meeting with the retailer the day. And I was in a store and I said, mommy’s products could possibly be on the shelf in the store soon. And he was like well how and I tried to explain that to him like it would leave our warehouse it would come here, we’re going to backroom in it, come on the shelf and you could go scan it at checkout. So I tried to explain all those different things to them and I think their excitement from it comes from us sharing that with them you know within the FedEx grant competition and so they were our little video, you know, just FedEx driver so just trying to find creative ways to keep them engaged with business as much as possible as they think it’s their company so it’s hilarious.

Dana: And it kind of is I mean it is so inspired by them and created for them. So talk to me about how you actually did it like how did you tangibly go from, okay, this is something that I want to create for me and obviously your friends were involved and said hey this is a great idea. I mean that’s a perfect way to kind of get some feedback on your product in the first place but how did you actually go about finding a manufacturer, like, getting into the retail stores like or some of the most important steps that you took that really changed the course of your business when it comes to actually launching, like in a tangible way.

Jacquelyn: I would say first, A lot of my experience working in CPG definitely has helped me. You don’t have to have a background in working in CPG consumer packaged goods but it definitely helped me. I relied heavily on Google, in the beginning. I love stationery, I love all things paper. The paper snob, I love to simple greeting cards I love to wrap up noxious gifts for friends, I’m going to your party I want the coolest, most obnoxious looking rat give on the mic that’s my thing, right. So with this business it was like I knew what I liked and I knew what I wanted my customers to have and I wanted something that I would consume and use, and so I was really specific about the quality of products that we used, but a lot of the early research was Google, it was like finding reports about industry in the market. YouTube to like, if you want to make stickers, go on YouTube and see how stickers are made. You can learn so much from what is online, the technical terms, the type of paper the printing processes, all of that information is there I think a lot of people think, oh, I can just call somebody who’s done it and they blueprint like, no. So a lot of it was really just like googling reaching out and then once I knew enough, calling a manufacturer and saying hi I want to do this product, can you help me like, can you tell me the pricing or what are the minimum order quantities, and understanding how that process works, and so that is kind of how it really started and then I created my website from the beginning I shot all the photos for the website, I didn’t hire a photographer to do any of that. Wow, and so photography is kind of a passion of mine so I was like okay, there were some things were add new in the budget I had to do myself so you know we did that I worked with the graphic designer to make the logo, and then I had a great attorney who did our intellectual property and made sure we had our LLC set up and that our trademarks and copyrights were all done correctly. So I think the most important thing is having good operations and systems in place in the beginning when you’re starting a business that way you don’t have to go in like three years later when you’re trying to ramp up our scale, you’re not looking for an accountant or looking to figure out hey do I have a trademark for this is someone else already doing this is this phrase trademark. But I think when you go about it the correct way in the very beginning, it can make it a lot easier as you continue to scale and grow the company.

Dana: I love that and I think that’s an important step too because I even when I first started my business, my husband was like why are you worried about this like you don’t have any clients like you don’t have you don’t have an income like maybe you don’t eat or I’m like, No, but I’m going to and I know I’m going to, and I don’t want to I’m not gonna have time because then I need to be servicing them and creating, you know, for those, for those actual paying clients and I don’t want to be having to fix this stuff on the back end and I think a lot of people do skip that because they’re so focused on one getting the revenue, and to getting clients to continue the revenue, and building up how it looks from the outside that you forget that like hey, if you don’t fix this stuff on the inside, quickly, it’s not gonna it’s not gonna serve you in the long run at all and then you’re gonna have to spend the time.

Jacquelyn: Did you fall in taxes and you’re trying to go through personal stuff, personal finances and business finances, oh it’s a nightmare like Don’t Don’t set yourself up for failure, like, run, run your business like an efficient business, you know, everybody wants to be a girl boss an entrepreneur, boss. You know, nobody wants to everybody wants to do that. Now these memes and all this stuff but there’s a lot of work for it to be a legit business, and that’s the heart people don’t want to do is because 100%

Dana: And it’s, yeah, you’re right, it’s not just you know you’re talking about in your corporate job having, getting to the point where you are a more of a management level and the finances and doing all those things, you still have to do a lot of those things as an entrepreneur but you also get to decide what things you outsource. So what are some things that you’ve done to make sure that you’re still like finding the joy in your business.

Jacquelyn: It is so funny you just asked me that I just hired a virtual assistant and I got off the back, my back and I am like, as my mom would say I’m cooking with hot grease now okay that’s a good southern term for you. I am ready to go. I would say being comfortable with understanding that yes, your business is your baby, but your business can grow. If you can’t delegate and allow other people to help you. And it, there’s a fine balance like in the very beginning, yes you may be doing everything does that mean or the Tick Tock with the ladies like hi I’m photography department Hi I’m shipping Hi I’m marketing like yes, I feel that a lot, but I’m starting to delegate and let people help me as we scale and grow because I can’t do everything, and I can’t do it well and then people who are experts at it, and who can assist me and sometimes we might not agree but if I don’t agree completely, we can’t find synergies and maybe they’re not a right fit for our business. But I would say, yes, a virtual assistant, graphic designers, we have a small team, but they’re very helpful to us, we first launched, we were packing orders in our garage, and then I quickly realized okay. Black Friday is coming up, and we work full time jobs, my mom comes at night watches my school and my aunt comes to help me pack packages with my husband, and then we stopped when we’re like exhausted or out of orders and then we load them up in the car the next one, post office, I can sustain that so we had no my company to pack the orders for us. So, there are moments where like okay for this too. I can’t do this, somebody else has to do this, this is not bring me joy, and I found out quickly, I did not enjoy packing orders like it was cute at first and then I was like, no I’m gonna do that. Yeah, let me know. So yeah, that was probably one of the things that we started with versus fulfillment and then you know graphic designers. So to help manage with social media so we’re a small team but yeah we were growing and delegating and I think it’s important to find people that can support you, that haven’t expertise, and it’s always okay to be slow to hire and FastFire. That’s something I’ve learned recently.

Dana: I love that I love that. I do think that’s a really hard bridge to cross especially when you’re like the first couple of times that you do hire anybody because you have to find the right fit and it’s not just about the business like it has to be somebody that you can talk to, especially if you’re going to be dealing with them day in and day out like you have to have a lot of the same beliefs and things that keep you motivated and it’s not just what you see on their resume, it’s not, it’s not just what they experience that they have in the connections they have it’s also who are they as a person and how are you interacting with them on a day to day basis and is that sustainable for you, because there’s some people that you just can’t be in the same room with you know every day so I, I love that little bit of advice. Okay, so the business is up and running at this point you have a originally it was just the wrapping paper. So how did you decide that it was time to go ahead and branch out and pivot just a little bit and add some more things and what was the motivation and inspiration for that

Jacquelyn: our customers, personal products that I want it for my son, daughter, and my husband. Though customers asked for, you know, they wanted different colors, or skews or larger rolls of paper for my son, I wanted paper that said don’t open till Christmas so that’s how he explained it so that our customers wanted pajamas. And so that’s how we got into making Christmas pajamas, Our family takes Christmas Christmas pajamas Christmas cards are my jam. We send them out every year I love it is massively long and it’s the point I want to get on it and right now.

Dana: Yes, yes,

Jacquelyn: me or just our Christmas card is like the probably the most fun thing, I don’t know how we’re gonna talk last year was pretty cool. But yes, that’s what we do, and my husband because I never wanted to sell apparel and we did an event, very early on we were marketing players calls at HBCU homecomings. Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And that’s our demographic when we first launched and so we had students passing out stickers and flyers about the company leading up to Christmas because homecoming is typically in October for most HBCU, and all the kids, the students were wearing a class called sweatshirt and T shirts. And so, people were asking them Well, where can I get that shirt and I was like oh we don’t sell those if those are just for, you know, those are just gonna be fun during our marketing support today. And then eventually was was like I think we need to put them on the website and I was like I don’t want to sell a payroll, I don’t want to apparel. No, I don’t wanna do it I want to do it. So it was his idea, and I remind him of that every time I’m ordering and trying to find a payroll and sourcing, apparel,

Dana: well because and that’s totally valid on your end, because that’s a totally different product, it’s a completely different product completely different process like everything you’re doing is totally different than the wrapping paper side so it so for you guys do you have anything that crosses in terms of like vendors and all that, or is everything totally separate for the apparel versus the paper.

Jacquelyn: It’s all separate. We work with about six different manufacturers now, some are USB, some are overseas, so it’s fun now at night I think I’m done and then somebody from China will message me at 10pm and wants to talk to a wall and it’s great. Yeah,

Dana: just look it up. Yeah, yeah, that time changes is so hard, I can’t even imagine from China, jeez I’m struggling with Justin Turkey which isn’t that far forward so okay so you talked to me about you. I said you hired a graphic designer for your logo so who actually does the drawings of all the different children on the wrapping paper, like how did, how did that even work like Are you an artist like is this a secret hobby like what is the deal, how did this come about how did this happen.

Jacquelyn: I’d like to say that I’m a creative, but I cannot draw at all. Like I can’t really draw a straight line. So we work with graphic designers, starting with Clarence Claus, I found illustrator that I loved. He had a look to his art that I felt I connected with me, and I knew what I want to claim sauce to look like, I want him to look magical I want him to appeal to an adult and to a child. And so when I reached out to him. I gave him like, oh laundry list of things that I wanted it to look like and then I just said can you do this, and he goes, Yes, and he was can you this is a funny story because Western Union me the deposit and I said, Western Union you have PayPal. He’s like no I’m Western Union and he also is not in the US, he is in Ghana. When so I was like okay either this is going to be an amazing project and we’re going to work together or this is the same. So, I went to Walmart and I went up to him to deposit and Craig decided sent the money and the first iteration was perfect. He came back and the image was perfect and that is how Clarence Claus came to be so funny story. Yes. And then from that the kids characters are with another graphic designer and he’s in Canada and he’s awesome. And I saw his work and I, he was doing like mostly like bird drawings but they, they look really mad like their eyes like they look cartoonish and I was like, I think he could be he could do this thing he could do kids. So I was like maybe I have a good judge of artistic ability and like I can see what people can do so I kind of push them and go okay well you did that, can you do this, and that’s kind of how we got to our celebration crew. Two of them are done after my son and daughter, and the rest of the characters are just images that I thought represented our multicultural society different skin tones hair textures. They’re, you know, typically when you go into stores if it’s mostly blonde hair a little girls, there’s not a lot of variety. And if you see a whole lot. Please tell me where you’ve seen it because I don’t see it when I’ve gone to the stores, and there’s nothing wrong with having blonde hair, but when you raise a little black girl, they don’t have one here so you want them to have that self pride to understand the importance of what they look like isn’t just as beautiful. And so it was important for my children to see those images, early on and I think it’s important not just for black and brown kids to see images that look like them, but all kids right. So that’s kind of how our characters launched and they have, you know, freckles gaps in their teeth, short hair, long hair red hair Hair coverings glasses. One of the little girls has the logo so it’s just all different things that I think are important, that represent what our world looks like.

Dana: It’s amazing and it’s it’s funny you say that too so I’m not from I’m from Virginia Beach, but I live in Northern Virginia normally and my kids, it’s so multiracial there, there’s, they don’t even blink, like you see everybody every type of dressing every type of everything, it’s all there and so for them, you know, we’ve even just an image Turkey we’ve been here three weeks, three weeks today actually. And they, they are like noticing, or like, everything looks the same. I’m like, yeah, yeah, we’re gonna cut you know it’s not this is not a melting pot country, this is one of the original countries. So I, it’s really interesting to see so we’re gonna have to order some over here to to keep providing them like, remember there are people that look all different than you so I have a niece who has bright fiery red here and real pale skin, so we’re gonna be ordering her so to I saw her on there. I’m just so excited and thrilled to see so many different races and cultures and looks and all the things on all your effing paper. So talk to me about how you’re kind of spreading the word into multiple communities because, as you mentioned like it’s not just black or brown it’s all the different colors so how are you getting this out the word out to everybody. Where’s it being sold like who is how is your what is your marketing strategy like in terms of targeting and things like that.

Jacquelyn: Our number one consumer is moms they’re the household shopper they’re the decision maker right so we rely heavily on moms and I also like to call them pink professional on Nokia, because they’ve got that disposable income, and they like to spoil them and don’t have one of those. Right, and they like to come in with the big gifts be that be the Aussie that has a cool gift of head on. All right, so that’s kind of our core consumer so we try to be in spaces that they’re in. So, we are actively trying to ramp up our retail stores, we have any listeners that are familiar with a retail store that’s a gift shop or a bookstore or a toy store that thinks would be a good fit, please send us an email, we’re always looking for new ones so we’ve been reaching out to quite a few all over the country, and some competitions right now with two major retailers. So hopefully that works out, we’re testing on Amazon right now, we use social media very heavily especially during the holidays so Instagram Facebook tick tock, even though I’m not really great at ticket right now. I need to hire college dude help me out. There you go. So we do a lot of ads on those platforms as well. We have a large following of newsletter subscribers that we asked to share and promote a lot of email marketing is that partnerships through print magazine, and online marketplaces so as far TV we did well with efforts a few years ago and so just trying to find different ways to kind of get the word out. And so, Fire TV has like online marketplace that they used to do television shows. So, always looking for new opportunities.

Dana: It’s really interesting because it starts as a seasonal product but honestly like with especially birthday wrapping paper I mean this is all year round and I love that you’re getting that word out there and it’s great that you mentioned the newsletter subscribers and I talked about this in a lot of episodes but people don’t realize the power and reach that they have, like, even if you just have a few 100 People that follow you on Instagram, you share like a couple of stories about a business like this about something that’s innovative and different and great for kids, it’s a great thing for kids. You have no idea the power that you have, you think you just have oh, like, you know I love 200 Instagram followers like nobody cares. I’m going to share this, people actually do like even if you reach one more person what if that one person that you reach has 10,000 and they love the product so much that once they get it, like people have no idea the power that they have, and it costs them nothing. It costs them nothing to share their experience and their story to write a review to post it publicly, like, and it’s a good deed, like their check done for the day, like, just take the time, any day to share something of somebody that you know has impacted you or done something that’s really made your life different and I think that this is a prime example of that and this is one that takes off really easily because it’s innovative, it’s something different, it’s something that people love, it’s good for their kids like you check all the boxes, and this just came from an idea of something that you wanted to make for your son, like people don’t realize how amazing it is when you come up with an idea like this that if you need it. I guarantee somebody else does too.

Jacquelyn: And what a moms do we got all these birthday parties they kind of slow down in the pandemic but we’re birthday party and hard okay there’s one every weekend we’re cutting cake somewhere so

Dana: I know, especially now that like things are starting Well, we’re starting to kind of get back to normal, like it has been a pose of like okay let’s get together and do something and I think that, you know this is a really fun way to like reintroduce yourself into the party scene, and especially with Christmas coming up. So talk to me about how the pandemic has kind of affected your business in terms of like production, and even sales. I know you said last year was your best year yet and it’s gonna be so hard for you to like figure out what that is attributed to like to track because okay you’re not working your job now for the first year, but also it’s a global pandemic, like, how has this impacted what you’re doing and what your plan is moving forward.

Jacquelyn: Definitely 2020 I would say the pandemic affected us through supply chain and just raw materials goods boxes cardboard that we use to ship products, the post office had delays, paper, the cost of paper has gone up, thread, even has increased in us and companies across the some of the thread that goes into making other apparel, those things have increased the cost of doing business, post offices raising prices constantly, and less drivers, most people working in the warehouse, I mean people saw the news trucks and trucks and trucks of mail just lined up and all of the hubs all over the country. But the way we kind of combat, that was just good communication to our customers, there were a lot of orders that got stuck on 18 wheelers outside of our control, you know, we tried to, you know, work with those customers ship a new product, some of them got it later, some of them kept it some of them were angry and wanted to revive, we managed to the best that we could, you know, customer service is important as we will all our customers to be happy to work in the celebration business so we don’t want to have. And that also affected us because we did a lot of marketplaces and pop ups and events, you couldn’t do last year’s we had to rely heavily online to market art is the way that would say that you didn’t make it.

Dana: And so are you currently are you working from home like do you work near the warehouse, do you have an office like what does it look what is the day to day look like and how is that different even in your schedule and what you’re doing on the day to day. How is that different from pre running your own business was it everything you thought it would be, or no,

Jacquelyn: it’s probably what I thought it would be, I didn’t expect when I quit my job if they were 2020 that I was at home trying to run a startup with two kids at home. I thought that would be a great year, not home because of the global pandemic doing virtual kindergarten in my house, just pleasant, I survived. I survived virtual kindergarten,

Dana: and that needs to go on paper, that means to paper

Jacquelyn: I survive virtual human writing I would like a margarita, and a sticker. So, yeah, I would say, when I started this whole time. I thought okay I’ve probably work from home because I’ve always worked from home for 13 years I work from home a call office. Okay, that wasn’t anything like I would go out to, you know, travel a lot for work so, but I work from home office. So that was not different. Having my husband working from home and a two year old and a six year old with me was very different, and it’s still very different I would want to fall asleep with her major retailer and my two year old was held in quarantining because she had exposure in the classroom and she wanted to scream during the entire call was great, but we powered through and she’s alive. So yeah, I would say definitely working on home office, I go into the warehouse. When I’m in check on stuff and times that needs to get out of the house, and then occasionally I’ll go work in a Starbucks or I will go meet a friend for lunch or I’ll go to like a co working space if I need some space in the day, or if we’re like filming something and I need a different space, I’ll go to like a friend’s house to film something around my entire family out of the house to do like pitch competitions or so. But basically everybody’s back in school safely with math, and we’re just crossing our fingers and lifestyle and everything.

Dana: Yes, I love that that’s like a, I feel like that’s the life motto for everybody right now, it’s very interesting to see, especially in just different parts of the country but also in different parts of the world how they look the situation, like you’re in Turkey, you don’t leave your house without, like they were in such intense quarantine, like, you literally could not leave your house, period, like for like multiple stretches of weeks of time so the Americans here that work at the embassy, do you know we’ve been talking about it and it’s like they were trying to do their jobs from home but literally like you weren’t allowed to have any, like, a babysitter could even come up, but you could not see you could not leave you could not see anyone like groceries had to be delivered like so intense, I mean it’s like very PTSD up in here, like, I am very thankful that I mean we quarantine it did all the things we were supposed to do and we’re our mass and it was pretty locked down in DC, a lot of stuff was closed, but it wasn’t full quarantine so I have a new perspective on like okay, it was really hard, you know, but we made it through and hopefully it’s going to be better from here on out, but for all the people that have run businesses from home, it’s so funny because they’re little people there and they saw you doing things that they didn’t normally see doing, which is great. On one hand, because they see you, you know, building a business and doing something awesome, and that’s how I like to look at it, but on the other hand, like yours are small yours don’t really know. They just know that you’re doing something that’s not with them.

Jacquelyn: Right. So you kind of have to like balance like Okay, where was this a good thing and where do we need to like kind of make up for it a little bit so how did they seem to handle, you know, being home and having you there and seeing you work like do you think it was a good balance or do you think that they kind of need some reassurance, but like, okay, like, I don’t just work, because that’s where I think my kids were, at one point, we survived. I don’t think they need therapy. But there was way too many tablets we got a lot of screen time. I, I will say we a lot of screen time but what I have tried to remind myself is to give myself grace, and to give all mothers and dads right that are working home because everybody’s house is different we have friends that they never took the kids out of school, they want to either medical fail or they were in, you know, social workers and they just could not buy their kids had to go to daycare and I never stopped going to school or daycare, so I don’t judge, whatever works for your family. If you have small children or children at all, and you make whatever for anybody and you may choose to you, because our house, is lovely have a lot of snacks, and everybody’s. Yeah, well call it a word but they definitely saw me, you know, do a lot of interviews, a lot of phone calls, a lot of mommy’s working, they definitely take my phone on my hands now, put it down on the table. And so yeah, they, they got to see but it’s for a short period of time right yeah so resilient, there is.

Dana: I love that. Okay, so right now as we’re recording this It’s mid September of 2021 So this is obviously ramp up like period of time and I sat here for 30 minutes taking up your time so talk to me about this fall and how it works like is it just crazy like what, how does your day to day change ramping up to your quote unquote busy season.

Jacquelyn: I manage it. Much better now than I used to I used to have extreme anxiety around it because I knew that the crazy season was going to start. So now I do a lot more planning in summer in the spring to help me automate and not be as crazy. December is a busy month for US economy ends in December, the 15th and 18th is the last ship date, So we do print after that but it’s really that’s kind of our, that’s when things kind of slow down, October, my entire family is born October November so we just put October stresses me more. So yeah, it’s a it’s a lot of parties, a lot of events, and a lot of playing, I’m because I love celebrations, obviously I do too much, I plan too much, it’s over the top, even if it’s home with our kids, it’s still a love that. So, delegating, getting rid of mommy guilt and trying to plan out for the business, way far in advance and automating things and getting things prepped and ready to go so that it’s not like, okay, it’s December, what are we doing in December that won’t work so proper planning, definitely helps. Definitely.

Dana: That’s amazing and I think, too, you kind of mentioned this but I really want to point out the fact that she said that she now realizes that this is the final day like Final shift day, like, you know now that this is the decision and I do feel like even, it’s a symbol for Harper’s like fall is busy because everybody wants Christmas cards so you have to get every and then you have to turn it back around and get it to them so that then they can order their cards or you can order cards for them and so I don’t think I really recognized that, that like okay, this is crazy, crazy hard time, but then it ends, and I think it’s hard to tell, it’s one of those things like you don’t really know until you go through it, but once you get a couple of years under your belt of like okay this was the crazy time, it becomes much less daunting because one, you know better how to prepare but two, you could just brace yourself for it and you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if you know there’s an end date, like you can get through this hard season and it doesn’t last forever. And I think the first couple of times in that go round can be so hard because you’ve just don’t know and you’re so excited because you’re so busy but at the same time you’re like, What have I done. I’m so busy,

Jacquelyn: I’m gonna edit those photos oh my gosh I shot, everybody. This week, right.

Dana: You know, that’s the thing you just have to realize that it’s these businesses are usually a pretty cyclical pattern, most businesses are and you can kind of predict that a little bit better once you’ve done it, and it’s one of those things you can listen, you can tell somebody a new entrepreneur to you’re blue in the face that you promise it gets easier once you can predict it a little bit more but until you really experience it, it’s hard to actually trust that so I just encourage anybody listening to this, in those you know hard seasons of just crazy business but it does come back around, is gonna be okay in the end and that you’ll, you’ll kind of be able to predict this pattern a little bit better as you as you go down the line. So okay, Jacqueline, just one last question. Tell me about where we can find you, what are some of the, you know best places to reach you, is it Instagram is it tick tock, we talked about. And then also what were some of your favorite interviews that you’ve given and that we can go check it out via video so people can see what you look like,

Jacquelyn: awesome okay so you can shop green cotton gifts where WWW dot green top gifts.com on all social media at BrainPOP gifts, please follow in like and share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter on our website. If you really want to talk to us. Text Join our textbook. And if you would like to see more of the personal chaos that is my family. You can follow us on Instagram, and my account is snacks with Jack, and there I am making lunches, and trying to speed out the parking lot after purpose like

Dana: guys she just does everything, it’s fine, it’s fine, just like, you know, The perfect mouth is.

Jacquelyn: No, no, perfect,

Dana: perfect busy mom let’s put it that way. A perfect example of like hey I’m running this chaos and it’s just gonna happen how it happened. Well, Jacqueline thank you so much for joining me, I am seriously so honored and I can’t wait to get this episode out to people can get their orders in before Christmas, I get that awesome wrapping paper in their hands so thank you so much and I can’t wait to talk to you soon.

I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you heard and more snippets of knowledge about this mom Boss Life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to read it with you. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.

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