- Who is Team Uncommon Covers?
Uncommon Covers is a husband and wife team: Jenny Walker and BJ Johnston, who has help from Honky Tonk Foodie, and other devoted friends and family.
[caption id="attachment_6374" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Family Photo![/caption]
- Where did you get the idea to make custom koozies?
In the heat of Summer 2013, BJ brought several used koozies and asked Jenny to sew them together to create a koozie big enough for a 24 ounce beer. After reluctantly agreeing, she gave it a whirl! While it wasn’t the most beautiful makeshift koozie, it did the job! The same day, Jenny also created a koozie for a 16 ounce can. Every time BJ used one of these two koozies, people commented they should sell them.
[caption id="attachment_8328" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Original Uncommon Covers[/caption]
3. When was the first sale?
The very first market Uncommon Covers participated in occurred on March 28, 2014, selling to their first real unknown person!
[caption id="attachment_8330" align="aligncenter" width="300"] BJ & Jenny at the Liberty Jubilee, March 2014[/caption]
- Where have you done markets?
Uncommon Covers works markets across Texas, including Liberty, Houston, New Braunfels, Boerne, San Antonio, Austin, Dripping Springs, Buda, Seguin, Spring Branch, and Adkins.
[caption id="attachment_8332" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Christmas Booth 2019[/caption]
- What percentage of orders are customized?
Customized orders can be very seasonal; they account for about 30% overall.
- How has the pandemic affected business?
Unfortunately, the pandemic led to cancelations of the remainder of in-person selling events in 2020. The last market was at Currents in New Braunfels on March 14th. The real bummer is not being able to chat with customers in person! However, because Uncommon Covers is a small business, they have been able to pivot and create new products which are in demand.
- What are these newest products?
Uncommon Covers is now making face masks and scrunchies. Who knew scrunchies would make a comeback?!? Good COVID fashion is made with a matching face mask and scrunchie combo! Jenny has also started designing and printing fabrics on Spoonflower. This endeavor has opened the door for fun themes and helped the efforts to meet specific requirements. For example, when making double-layer products, Jenny prefers the fabric to have an alternating design. This is because a single piece of fabric is used per item, and when wrapped, the other side would be upside down otherwise.
- Where is the furthest away you have shipped product?
Uncommon Covers has shipped to New York City from Texas.
What is your favorite product to make?
Currently, Jenny’s favorite products are anything upcycled. Exactly how it will look is a mystery but she does have a pretty good idea ahead of time! BJ will always have a soft spot for the 24 ounce options.
[caption id="attachment_8333" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Upcycled Drinkwear[/caption]
- What parts of your personality/ background help business?
By nature, Jenny is a creative and organized person, which she believes lends itself to her entrepreneurial spirit. Jenny holds a degree in mathematics, the ultimate assistant with geometric and spatial reasoning. A graduate degree in accounting boosted her to never fear starting a business. Genetics help too! Jenny’s mom and grandmother are both professional-level quilters.
BJ is talented with all things manual. His degree in safety management and experience in construction are helpful for keeping operations safe when working with Uncommon Covers machinery. BJ has also donated several of his favorite shirts to upcycled products!
- What kind of machinery is used to make products?
Used in no particular order are a standard sewing machine, an industrial overlock sewing machine, a heat press, a shop press, proprietary die cutters, Silhouette Cameo for vinyl cutting, and a simple needle and scissors for finishing touches.
[caption id="attachment_8331" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Where the magic happens[/caption]
- What advice would you give to small businesses?
If you have an idea, there is no time like the present to get started. Better to try, fail and learn, than never do anything at all. Being able to start a business from nothing and turn it into something is one of the reasons America is so wonderful.
- Name a mistake learned.
Although many can be counted, two really stand out. The first occurred when just starting: Jenny says she would compare their products to other brand’s similar products, trying to compete with the pricing. As Uncommon Covers products evolved and the customer base grew, so did her confidence. Jenny and BJ don't produce products which compete with low-cost promos, instead, they produce a high-quality, long-lasting personalized product to be used for years. Jenny states she has heard it said before and it is true: comparison is the death of joy. When she comes across other young women business owners, Jenny does her very best to instill this in them. You are worth your time, talent, and product pricing.
The second lesson learned was when Jenny and BJ moved, and the business change of address was delayed with the state; this led to missing the state franchise tax filing deadline. Uncommon Covers had to pay a penalty. Ouch!
- Do you donate to charity?
Yes! Uncommon Covers has donated to many non-profit fundraising silent auctions over the years. There was once a bidding war for a Bad Words Bundle! Recently, Jenny has donated her time to Riverside Pride by helping with their website, a skillset learned through her small business adventure.
- What does the future hold for Uncommon Covers?
The immediate future has Jenny and BJ at the Boerne Handmade Virtual Market in November. Here, Uncommon Covers is planning to go Facebook Live for the first time! Further down the road, they want to keep growing by getting product into brick and mortar retail stores and eventually, having an entire team cranking out drinkwear on a daily basis.
Thank you for reading all about the past, present, and future of Uncommon Covers! Stay safe and take care. Until next month!
[caption id="attachment_6594" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Sarah & Jenny at Wein & Saengerfest in New Braunfels, Texas.[/caption]