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Lucky Ginger Studio

American Made Since 2007

Cheryl Shanahan

Richmond, Virginia
Beautiful American-made note cards, journals, magnets, calendars and gift items based on original photography by Cheryl Shanahan

Tell us about your business.

This business was borne as my divorce dust was settling. I was in a high-stress job and needed a creative outlet to soothe my soul. Photography was something that laid dormant during my prior marriage, and as I put myself back together, I rediscovered photography - an artistic avenue I originally began exploring as a teenager. At that point in my career, I had played on all sides of the "merchandise fence": I once enjoyed a successful career in indie retail; I worked as a manufacturers' rep; I worked directly for a manufacturer that crafted museum reproduction stained glass, which gave me exposure to production, packaging, as well as creative and direct marketing. I had faith in my artistic talent and knew I had the skills to translate a hobby (making cards and prints for friends) into a business (selling to botanical gardens and museum gift shops).I balance this venture with a full-time job, so last year I stopped wholesaling to concentrate on direct sales.

What makes your business stand out?

For starters: all Lucky Ginger Studio products are 100% made-in-the-USA. Yep. Down to the adhesives, glues, findings, parts and pieces. All of it. I feel very strongly about keeping the wheels of industry turning at a domestic level. I may not be cranking out a million cards or magnets a year, but I know that whenever I reorder any of my supplies, I am helping some other American company in my own small way. There are days where I feel as if I'm designing "analog treats" for our digital world. Call me old-fashioned, but I think most people still really appreciate receiving hand-written notes. All of my products - note cards, journals, magnets, page markers, desk calendars - combine my graphic designs with an image I personally photographed. Each flower you see grows in my garden (total hydrangea junkie, in case you're wondering why they're on every other item!); water-inspired images come home with me from the lake or the beach.

What's the best business advice you've received?

That it's OK to honor your perfectionist tendencies - because when a product is released into the world, it has your name on it - and you want its qualities to reflect YOU. I learned this at two different jobs. The first was at a company that made museum-reproduction stained glass. Many of our designs were based on original stained glass windows and lamps designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles H. Tiffany (he of jewelry fame). He had a very exacting eye and high standards, and part of his lore includes accounts of him walking his shop floor and knocking over - and breaking - stained glass lamps that did not meet with his approval. I go a little "Tiffany" sometimes on designs and products as they are "born" here in the studio I also had good fortune to work for another successful entrepreneur. Under her tutelage, I refined my design and writing skills. When I am editing, I can still hear her pushing me to aim higher.

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    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.

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