Member Spotlight with Shannon Cohen, Founder/CEO of Shannon Cohen, Inc. and Tough Skin, Soft Heart
A Card Talk Member Interview
Tell us about your company and/or your products.
Shannon Cohen, Inc. was founded to curate products, spaces, and experiences that nourish human souls. The inspirational product line powered by the company is Tough Skin, Soft Heart. Our niche is inspiration + strategy for people who lead, love, and serve — we call them difference makers. For many difference makers – their strength often renders them invisible. When you’re the strong one, people don’t think you hurt or struggle. Our greeting cards and inspirational goods double as anthems of hope. We are a company of “hope dealers” sharing messages of inspiration + strategy via greeting cards +. We have been in the greeting card industry for 5 years. Our signature brand of greeting cards debuted at 1750+ Target stores nationwide via a partnership with American Greetings in February 2021. This summer our entire line of inspirational goods will debut at more than 200 Meijer stores nationwide. We love building with small, midsize, and national retail partners. We want to see our signature version of inspiration + strategy accessible where people live, work, shop, and gather.
I also host a #ToughSkinSoftHeart podcast heading into Season 3 in January 2022. The podcast reaches subscribers in 12 countries with 15 minutes of weekly grab-and-go inspiration + strategy for difference makers. The podcast is available on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pandora, and more!
What is your role within the company:
Why did you become a GCA member?
I strive for continuous improvement – as a human, business owner and lifelong student. I stumbled upon the GCA via a Google search in 2018 and became a member in 2019. Being a GCA member has allowed me to connect and deepen relationships with fellow makers and suppliers, and to grow in my understanding of the past, present, and future of the industry. It can be daunting to figure out how to plug into the GCA and find a space of belonging among your peers – especially as a newer maker. I found volunteering helped make a large association smaller and more accessible. I am entering my 2nd year serving on the committee for the now virtual conference powered by GCA each Fall.
What inspired you to get involved in the greeting card industry?
My love for stationery began in middle school. I always knew encouragement was one of my superpowers. I would pen notes for friends to celebrate milestones and actually became friends with my high school BFF because I sent a card to her after the loss of her grandmother. That card ignited a lifelong friendship. That’s the transformational impact of greeting cards! Words hold power to heal and restore and I am a wordsmith at heart. My pathway to the greeting card industry was also motivated by a desire to share my voice and perspective in the market. I saw a missing space for cards that provide both inspiration + strategy – and desired to fill it.
How has your company handled things during the pandemic? What has changed?
Pandemic brought crisis, risk, and disruption to all of us. I remember one of our team members asking if I planned to lay off the team and I responded, “NO! We are going to use our collective wisdom and expertise to remain innovative and cutting-edge even in the midst of a pandemic”. I said that even as I was unsure of the how. All but two of our retail partners shuttered their doors at some point throughout the pandemic, so we had to get creative. We shifted our marketing strategy from a B2B to a B2C model and we added additional products to our line of inspirational goods Our sticker line debuted in 2020. We also grew other aspects of the company brand. Annually, we host a conference for women leaders called the Rockstar Woman Brunch Experience. We shifted the Experience to a virtual platform and went global! Last year we had 400 attendees spanning 16 states and Canada. We continue to reimagine new pathways to our end user and new possibilities for expanding the #ToughSkinSoftHeart community.
Has your company shifted creative focus during this last year and if so, how?
People are hurting. There has been significant loss, isolation, and turbulence over the past 15 months. We have not shifted our creative focus — we leaned even further into it. Everyday we ask as a team, “As hope dealers, how are we curating products, spaces, and experiences to nourish human souls”. Living in alignment with that mission is our creative and strategic focus.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, Shannon!