Feature Spotlight Jeannine Cook Founder and Owner of Harriet’s Bookshop (Pa)
Happy Friday PlumTwenty Fam!
We’ve learned about so many fabulous female founders and are obsessed with ensuring you get motivated to keep pushing your dreams. What better way than to learn from those already leading the way.
We fell in love with, Jeannette Cook owner of Harriet’s Bookshop, based in Philadelphia PA. And when we find a “girl on fire”, like Jeannine, owner of the bookstore we get geeked up to share the story of some black girl magic. Check it out below:
PlumTwenty: How did you pick your name?
Jeannine: Harriett's Bookshop is named for historic heroine Harriett Tubman. I cannot think of a more fitting person to follow than a woman who had her eyes and mind set on freedom. My hope is that our book collection continues to build on Tubman's good deeds.
PlumTwenty: How did you discover you had the risk tolerance to be an entrepreneur?
Jeannine: Entrepreneurs are the humans who want to raise their hands and shout and stomp when they hear the quote that Anais Nin said, "And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." I believe I've been blossoming my whole life. It hurts when I do not.
PlumTwenty: What advice did you get as an entrepreneur that still rings true right now?
Jeannine: Well here is an anecdote, when I was younger, about 19 years old, one of my mentors gave me 100 incense. He said take this break into 10 packs of 10 incense and sell each one for $1.00. Don't come back until you have the $10. If you cannot convince 10 people to give you $1 then you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. I was so deathly afraid at that moment. I was like how am I supposed to do this? But I wanted to do it. I felt I could. So, what I did was I never made the 10 packs. Instead I spoke to one person and convinced them to buy the entire pack of 100 incenses and then at the end, he gave me $20 and said it's cool to sell the incense to someone else. I went back with the $20 and the complete pack of incense and in that moment, I was reminded that I can meet goals and challenges in my own way. That is what it means to be an entrepreneur to me--to meet challenges and goals in our own ways.
PlumTwenty: How has COVID impacted your business, either in manufacturing or community etc.?
Jeannine: I think Covid forced me to exercise my creativity. It forced me to think about possibility. But first it punched me in the stomach and kicked me in the throat and tried to stifle me. “It tried to take all my stuff” as the iconic black feminist poet Ntzoke Shange would say It pushed me to find my inner fight. It asked me to question what I wanted and why. It said, "Girl show me your mean face." And I did not let it kill my dream. Instead of fighting back, I got up, and pointed my two fingers at it like it was Mister and said "I curse you. Until you do right by me everything you think about is gonna crumble!" I walked away and continued doing what I was called to do.
PlumTwenty: How can a strong sisterhood network support you? Or has one already and what can you share about that?
Jeannine: In October, when it was time for me to reopen my bookshop after being closed for 6 months, my sister, my blood sister, same mother, same father, flew to Philly and co-hosted what we called A Sisterhood Sit-In. Harriett's had been sent terroristic threats that represented the worst of what humanity has to offer. Hundreds of sisters attended this event to make it known that we were together--lean and let lean my sister said. Hundreds more sent words of love and support. I am only here because of my sisters literally and figuratively.
PlumTwenty: Which female founders inspire you most?
Jeannine: Harriett! Periodt.
Now you feel good because we introduced you to another Baddie, right?! We thought so :)
We all so loved her products so much, we had to purchase the Tshirt – go check out the shop and rock these inspirational and necessary gifts! Be sure to follow her Instagram and visit her store.