Introduce yourself and profession to our readers:
Hey Glambitious readers! My name is Evelyn Cooke and I am the CEO of Gingerbread Trimmings which is a holiday company specializing in hand-crafted decorations with twists inspired by cultures from all over the world. Each item is made with love, and each purchase helps fund the growth of the Evelyn Cooke Dream Big Scholarship Program. This program, founded in 2014, focuses on financial support and mentorship for college-bound high school minority seniors and while we currently serve a local need, it is our goal to expand nationally and to international students.
What inspired you to pursue this area of interest?
I have always been a creative and artistic person. I focused primarily on drawing and painting from childhood all the way till high school where I even got some of my work in museums around New York. After burying that part of me while I studied marketing and worked, the one time a year where I found creative release was at my family's annual Christmas Tree trimming party the day after Thanksgiving. It was tradition here that each family member hand-make their own ornament for the tree to mark that year and each year I become more competitive to have the best ornament (though some of my nephews' works gave me a run for my money). Holidays have always been the time of year where my family felt normal and just happy to be with each other, so it all just made sense to try to share that feeling with the world.
What advice would you share with those interested in a similar pursuit?
Just start. Whatever it is that you like doing or making, just do it and put it out there. It doesn't need to be perfect, and you don't even have to know 100% for sure if someone would buy it but if you start now, and you take everyday as a new opportunity to improve your branding, work, plan etc. in a short amount of time you will blossom into a whole new force to be reckoned with.
Discuss a professional challenge and how you overcame it:
My biggest challenge has been a battle of believing in myself without the permission of others. I took a stable path into Corporate America after I graduated. After a year of struggle to feel grounded and deep depression, I realized that no matter how great of an environment they may have, that I would never be fulfilled if I relied on another company to own my passions. I decided I needed change so I started by finding each and everything that brought me joy, and I did it every day. From that, I found out so much about myself, what I loved and was I was good at but didn't necessarily want to do forever. One thing that did stick however, was crafts, especially for holidays - thus Gingerbread Trimmings was born.
What is next for your brand/business in 2016?
For the rest of 2016, Gingerbread Trimmings is moving full steam ahead in new item creation and filling orders so that we may ultimately become a one-stop shop for everyones holiday needs. Our goal is to increase our social media presence, brand recognition within the black community and diversify of offerings. By Christmas, we hope to double our current amount of listings based on customer and community feedback and see consistent sales.
How can readers connect with you online and through social media
Readers can check out my shop at www.etsy.com/shop/GingerbreadTrimStore To stay connected to the latest GT updates, they can also followus
on Instagram (@GingerbreadTrimmings) and Facebook (@GingerbreadTrim)