December 28, 2020
Share Your Story: BigHouse Card Company

A greeting card maker that creates for families impacted by incarceration

With so many retailers and makers facing similar challenges right now, we encourage you to Share Your Story so we may share your story and help other independent retailers and creators in the industry.

Tanya Crooks is the founder of BigHouse Card Company, an online retailer based in Chico, California, and she shared how it launched its business in the middle of the pandemic and described its offerings.

Tanya Crooks, founder of BigHouse Card Company
Tanya Crooks, founder of BigHouse Card Company

Tell us about your business.

Inspired by personal experience, I create greeting cards for families that have been impacted by incarceration. Snail mail is by far the cheapest way to stay connected with family, and is the only way the family can communicate as much as they want. Growing up, I always had a hard time finding greeting cards that fit my situation. So I decided to solve the problem.

BigHouse Card Company

I also want to create social change in regards to the stigmatization with incarceration. I want to educate mainstream society that many people in prison know they did a bad thing, are remorseful and change their lives completely. I want to show society that people incarcerated are human. I want to help remove the embarrassment and shame that people have when they have a family member who’s incarcerated. Many times people “hide” their family out of fear of rejection, judgment, and embarrassment.

BigHouse Card Company

Describe how you had to adjust the business due to the pandemic.

I started by business this past summer, so during the pandemic. The adjustments I’ve had to make is being a lot more engaging social media, and relying on the internet more than being direct with in-person contact. Because I am an e-commerce business, I have not had to implement any special services.

BigHouse Card Company

How do you communicate with your customers?

I am communicating with customers and potential customers solely through social media and email newsletters. BigHouse Card Company also engages with customers on social media.

BigHouse Card Company

Tell us how the launch of your business has impacted you.

Opening the store has truly been a positive experience because incarcerated is so highly stigmatized, let alone having a family member in prison. Through this business, I’ve met others that directly relate to my situation, and have made awesome connections, and had people message me directly telling me how much they enjoyed the card. It’s truly been a healing and connecting process.

BigHouse Card Company

What challenges have you faced during the pandemic?

The challenges of the business being in a pandemic is that I’m unable to meet in-person for networking. When sending an email, it’s less personal, and you’re left wondering if they read your email or not. I also feel since at least in California, visiting for families in prisons has been closed since this past spring, so I’m unable to directly reach people that would be interested in these greeting cards.

BigHouse Card Company

What helpful tips would you like to share with others in the industry during these unprecedented times?

I would suggest to continuously engage with your audience/customers. Let them know you’re still there, keep yourself in front of their mind. Also, to not be afraid of showing other sides of you that are not business related. People buy from people.

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