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Nick and I are high school sweethearts living in Eastern North Carolina. We're dog parents to Dunkin and Paisley, and we love lazy Saturdays and working together. We started Simple & Sentimental together while in college at ECU.
In the fall of 2016, I was a freshman at East Carolina University majoring in Interior Design. I had a hobby of calligraphy and crafting, but never would have guessed my passion would become my business (or that I would even have a business for that matter). I would make gifts for friends and family with my skills, and in December of 2016 I decided to make an Etsy shop called “TDHDesign”, selling vinyl decals with my lettering on them. I would make and ship orders from my dorm room with the help of my now husband, Nick. There was vinyl for decals stored in buckets in my closet, and machines under my bed. I quickly became known as “sticker girl” around campus, selling my decals in front of the Dowdy Student Store.
By May of 2017, TDHDesign had 500 sales on Etsy. Over the summer of 2017, I had more space at my family’s home in Clemmons, NC to work. So, I decided to start selling more than just decals. We launched “Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes” in June, and they took off. I changed her major to business, and decided to pursue the company as a potential career. Come Fall of 2017, Nick and I were back at ECU, and while walking on campus saw a sign for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. We didn’t know anything about business or how to pitch, but we decided to enter anyway. On the day of the first round, TDHDesign became Simple & Sentimental. As the team proceeded through the inaugural competition, we made it to the final round. In February of 2018, Simple & Sentimental walked away with $12,500 in seed capital. The craziest part- the night before the final round, I had entered another pitch competition to practice for the Pirate Challenge.
We won first place, taking home $6,000 less than 24 hours before the PEC. Over the course of 2 days, Simple & Sentimental received $18,500 to kickstart the business. By April of 2018, the funds were used to sign a lease on a new office space in an incubator in Greenville, and hire 3 employees. In May, the office expanded to a 1,500 square foot production space to keep up with orders. Engagement boxes and gifts became a staple for S&S. Soon, Christmas season came along, and the volume was more than we could have ever imagined. In November, the office was expanded to 2,600 square feet to allow for higher order volume. Simple & Sentimental quadrupled its revenue from 2017 to 2018. That would not have been possible without the financial push from the PEC and Uptown Greenville, and hard work from the S&S team.
Now Simple & Sentimental is known on Etsy for our bridesmaid proposal boxes, engagement gift boxes, and personalized gifts. What started in a dorm room because a thriving business that employs over 15 people and has served over hundreds of thousands of people around the world. This does not mean that we didn’t face challenges. We have ran this business as full time students while we were engaged, and now we get have the privilege of running a growing company as a newly married couple. There have been many late nights, 80 hour weeks, and hard work that made this business happen.
Having faith that this is what God has called us to do is vital. We know we are walking in our calling, and with God, all things are possible. I'm so thankful for each person along the way who has helped us get to where we are today. We couldn't have done it without constant support from our staff, mentors, friends, and family. Our hope is that our story can be an encouragement to others!
Owner & Founder, Simple & Sentimental