To kick off our new blog series, Faces of Dogwood Hill, we thought it would be fun for you all to learn a little bit more about our founder and owner Jennifer Hunt! Everyone on the Dogwood Hill team adores working for Jennifer, and we always love making her get in front of the camera and into the spotlight. Without further ado, read on to get to know our fearless leader Jennifer!
Where is your hometown? Russellville, Alabama…home of the Golden Tigers!
What is your Alma Mater? The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa…Roll Tide!
What was your very first job out of school? As an associate with Arthur Andersen, formerly one of the “Big Five” public accounting firms. I fortunately switched jobs two weeks before the seriousness of the Enron scandal was disclosed. I loved the company and the people I worked with, I just couldn’t endure another busy tax season!
How did Dogwood Hill Collective come to be? I started Dogwood Hill to fill the gap between pricey custom-designed cards and more economically-priced, mass-produced cards. I realized there was a gap in the market when I searched the internet in late 2014 trying to find a holiday card I could customize online that had the high-end look of a custom-created piece, but with a more accessible price and a quick turnaround. Dogwood Hill launched with its first Holiday Collection in October 2015.
What was the first Dogwood Hill product you ever ordered for yourself? My first Dogwood Hill holiday card in 2015! It was a tri-fold card that featured Holly Hollon’s Christmas Toile artwork.
Favorite date night spot in Birmingham? My favorite date night typically revolves around where we will eat! There are so many great restaurants in Birmingham we love, but if it’s last minute, we’ll probably head to Ovenbird or Bettola.
Favorite place to take your kids? For locals, we recently took the kids to the Birmingham Zoo, which has been undergoing a renovation. We were really impressed! For dinner, Bettola is kid-friendly and The Woolworth is a fun spot for kids and adults. For travel, favorite beach spots the kids love are Amelia Island Plantation and Rosemary Beach, although we try to take the kids on a new adventure each year.
Favorite music to get you in the mood to work? I’m an 80s and 90s music junkie!
What was it like when your husband, Buddy, decided to join the Dogwood Hill team full time? I put the bug in his ear for at least a year, but he wasn’t ready to make the move until last Fall and we weren’t ready for him to dive into our Wholesale division until then anyway, so the timing was perfect. People ask all the time, “How do you work with your husband?” It works beautifully for us somehow. I guess maybe the almost 25 years we’ve known each other has prepared us!
What does a day in life as owner of Dogwood Hill look like? No day is ever the same! While there are areas I work on consistently, each day presents new items and issues to tackle, whether expected or not. I serve as problem solver, coordinator of special projects and collaborations, supervisor of Dogwood Hill’s creative and operations directors, overseer of website updates and software creation, financial analyzer, new product developer, marketing and PR liaison, and general manager of all things Dogwood Hill. Outside of work, I’m mom and wife, so balancing everything is always a work in progress.
Favorite Instagram account to follow for inspiration? Pencil and Paper Co. (@pencilandpaperco) is a favorite for both interiors and creative inspiration as well as gorgeous clothing and accessories ideas. I love following Gen’s travel adventures too.
If you could spend your perfect day anywhere in the world, where would you be and what would you do? Right now, I have a major itch to head back to Europe. I think Spain, the south of France and northern Italy are the spots I’ll be researching next. But we also just visited with some sweet ladies from El Salvador when we were at AmericasMart last month. They sold us on their beautiful country and gave us all the info for the best places to visit while there, so I’m super interested in taking the family there soon too! While visiting any place, I love to do more authentic and adventure activities and, of course, eat good food!
What’s your best piece of advice for an ambitious young woman who’s interested in owning her own business? I might have too much advice on this subject!
WHY. Why do you want to start this business? Is it a quality of life issue? Do you dream of working for yourself and setting your own schedule? Do you love your idea so much that you must share it? Whatever it is that’s motivating you, decide what your goal is and then move toward it with an enthusiasm that borders irrationality.
START. Do not let the overwhelming nature of starting a business keep you from it, but do your due diligence and do not take it all on yourself. Get the assistance you need from the beginning – you will keep your sanity and your company will likely propel at a quicker rate. If funds are tight, find an advisor to help guide your decisions. Be optimistic, but cautiously and armed with loads of information.
COMMIT. Go in knowing that your idea is likely not going to take off overnight. Be persistent and have confidence your concept is a good one. It typically takes at least THREE years before you know if your company is going to work. If you go in knowing that, you can put your head down and keep moving toward your goal, even during those tougher early years.
NETWORK. Networking is a major factor in the success of your business. In today’s world that is so saturated with imagery and content, partner with brands and companies where you can both leverage exposure. And don’t underestimate the power of joining or creating a group where you can bounce ideas off like-minded people. There’s room for everyone, so help each other, don’t hinder.
ENGAGE. Positively engage with your team and your customers. Make sure the team you build knows how important they are to you and the success of your company. Your company environment will trickle down to your customers and the service your team provides. Excellent customer interaction is vital – there are too many options for people to go elsewhere if customer service is an issue.
ASSESS. Assess what’s working and what’s not working. Do not be afraid of failure. Failure in areas is almost guaranteed and pushes you to the right decisions. Make necessary, thoughtful adjustments along the way to ensure the desired trajectory for your company.
What do you see as being NEXT for Dogwood Hill? We have some fun projects in the works that will be announced later this year and in 2020. Dogwood Hill’s 4th birthday is coming up in October and I’m so proud of what our team has accomplished in such a short time. We’ve been taking note of customer requests and we have some exciting things happening soon!