Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deniesha Johnson, Founder of D. Johnson & Co Greetings, located in Maplewood, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
D. Johnson & Co Greetings caters to the culturally specific niche of the greeting card industry, primarily for African Americans and other people of color, because representation matters. At D. Johnson & Co Greetings, our focus is to share creativity and love in custom, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind cards of the finest craftsmanship and artistry quality, made uniquely for you! We aren't just limited to making just greeting cards; we also make custom event/ business stationery. Our customers vary, but the majority are African American Female ranging from the ages of 25-65.
Tell us about yourself
I founded D. Johnson & Co Greetings in May 2020; this business was my calm and center during the storm (the COVID-19 pandemic). My contract ended at the end of March due to COVID, and while I took a few weeks just to enjoy my two children, we binged DVDs and Netflix, we played games, and worked on puzzles. I even decided to take on the hobby of sewing but quickly got bored of that. I desperately needed something to keep busy, so I went back to what I know the best about crafting, art, and design, being a very creative person at heart. I started thinking of things I could do or make just to keep busy. I then realized I could make cards using my Cricut for Mother's Day that was coming up. It was then that I learned this would be an outlet for me to be creative and share my gifts, all while I gave a little love & kindness in every card I made.
Initially, I started making custom cards and stationery years ago, but mostly as an added service to my event planning business going as far back as 2010. Over the years, even though I stopped planning events, I continued to make cards and event stationery on special occasions for close family & friends to make them feel special, and I quickly learned that it was another great business venture.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Every milestone has been an amazing experience that motivated me to keep going and has been my greatest accomplishment. From gaining a new customer on TikTok to landing wholesale deals with local boutiques and, lastly, being recognized in the Fearless Commerce book for black women entrepreneurs.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Time management as a business owner and in the stage I'm in; it's just me. I have to be the administrator and the social media director; I'm the lead maker of all my products, the financial advisor, and the graphic designer updating the website. I always say if I could get one or two extra days in my week along with a few extra hours each day, I'd for sure make it work a lot easier, but the reality is, there's never enough time in the day. So, one thing I have learned to do is work smarter, not harder, so if there's a way to do something smarter and save myself that time, then I am doing it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Trust yourself and your vision. You were gifted that idea for a reason, and it's all yours to make it happen. Sometimes we want to share the idea or get validation from others, but that's when we allow doubt and fear to creep in from their projections... but if you trust yourself, it'll all work out in the end.
- Just start it, and don't worry too much about the plan; sometimes, you have to just get to it, and you'll grow/evolve from there. Trial and error help us to know how to do better business for tomorrow, so the fails or the No's aren't necessarily bad, just a learning opportunity.
- You have to love what you are doing and know your reason why because there are days or moments when owning or running a business isn't as glamorous as it seems, you have to put in work even when you don't want to. I have a friend who reminds me that being an entrepreneur isn't for the faint of heart, and that's so true.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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