By Ginger DeShaney
Becca McGovern makes little things that inspire big feelings.
Maker / Scholar, her South Boston small business, is guided by this mission. And so is Becca.
“My family has a special tradition of making even the everyday ordinary things a holiday, and I’ve tried to bring that mentality into my small business,” said Becca McGovern, the artist behind Maker / Scholar.
By day, Becca is a senior product marketing manager for Upside, a tech company. By night and weekends, Becca creates greeting cards, custom art, and accessories for her small business.
“I was taught very early just to make things special … a random day could be a holiday or celebration,” Becca said.
Her grandma lived with Becca’s family in Weymouth for as long as she can remember. And when Becca went to Williams College, her grandma would send her cards and little gifts on the holidays … and on any other day she wanted Becca to feel special. “She found a reason to send me mail regardless of the season.”
Becca’s Maker / Scholar “has given me the chance to kind of do that more regularly and to spread it to more people.”
According to Becca’s website, Maker / Scholar means a busy brain making over-the-top art … that is sassy and spicy and meant to make the recipient feel special.
Becca, 30, likes to make things that are a bit quirky and different. Her art features alcohol, food, treats, dogs, salty language, and iconic South Boston locations (such as Sullivan’s, Loco, and Joseph’s Bakery).
In addition to birthday, wedding, baby shower, and thank you cards, her collection includes cards for breakups, encouragement, just because, love, and pride. ”I try to make cards that you would not find from Hallmark,” she said.
Her art also graces T-shirts, sweatshirts, scrunchies, and dog bandanas. She also sells her original artwork and does custom requests, such as dog portraits and invitations.
While Becca was at Harvard Business School working toward her MBA, she got to the point where she was brave enough to take the plunge and start her own business.
“The more time I spent in school, the more I was like, ‘Oh, I think I have strong opinions about how I would run a business myself.’ ”
So she got a Shopify trial account and went for it around Christmas 2020, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then she had to find the courage to spread the word about her new venture.
“And I had an absolute blast. And I decided to stick with it for Valentine’s Day the following year,” Becca said. “It’s become the thing that I probably spend the most of my emotional time and energy thinking about. It’s been pretty fantastic.”
Her dog, Butter, is her model and muse. And her husband, Marty Clarke, is her biggest supporter. “Marty has been just really so amazing as I’m trying to juggle a full-time job and this crazy side hustle. Our apartment has been covered in glitter, thread, and paint multiple times.”
Her business name is a play on Harvard’s Baker Scholars, students in the Business School who are in the top 5 percent of their class. “I thought it was funny when I was just signing up for Shopify on a whim and I didn’t think it would go much further than Christmas,” Becca said, noting it was a joke because she was not going to be a Baker Scholar, but she is a Maker Scholar.
As time went on, she added the slash between Maker and Scholar “because I realized it was fitting … I have a very busy brain that I’m always doing 10 different things at the same time. So the Maker slash Scholar ended up actually making sense. It started as a silly joke and then it actually ended up fitting for what I was trying to do.”
Her resolution for 2023 is to call herself an artist – something she’s felt too shy to do after having been known as a serious student and a serious athlete – even though she’s been an artist most of her life.
“I’ve always really gravitated toward more creative things,” she said. “And now, embracing that more, everything else in my life has improved because I’ve realized I’m a creative person.”
- Website: https://makerscholarcards.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/makerscholar/
- Faire (where retailer can place an order for her cards to sell in their stores): https://www.faire.com/brand/b_svd7c6w76r
- Email: email@example.com