Dating back centuries, the legend of jolly, ole’ Saint Nick, has always been associated with an older, white-bearded, white man. From greeting cards to movies and merchandise, representation of the Christmas holiday is a direct connection with this traditional notion. But for Jackie Rodgers, this was the tip of the iceberg in launching Greentop Gifts.
After countless hours of research and several unsuccessful attempts to locate wrapping paper that genuinely reflected her young son’s family image, the mother of two made it her mission to change the narrative. The growing discontent of having to color Santa’s face brown on wrapping paper became a thing of the past in the summer of 2015 when Greentop Gifts was born. A product line that abandoned the societal norm by showcasing a Black Santa affectionately known as Clarence Claus.
For Jackie, fulfilling a void in the marketplace and pursuing her entrepreneurial endeavors is about expanding on her family’s legacy. “This was a project that initially developed from a love for my family,” she proudly said. The company [Greentop Gifts] is in remembrance of the restaurant her grandfather owned, and Clarence was her late father’s name.
Since launching, Greentop Gifts has evolved to feature Clarence Claus on coffee mugs, ornaments, sweatshirts, gift bags, and other great gift ideas. Gayle King and her family were even spotted rockin’ their Clarence Claus gear during the previous holiday season. But the most rewarding part has been Jackie’s son’s reaction when he says things such as, “Mommy, it’s a brown Santa. It looks like us and looks like pop-pop.”
Undoubtedly, Jackie has proven that betting on yourself is never a gamble because, ultimately, it is the best bet you’ll ever make. Blacklove.com caught up with the Clark Atlanta University alumna to chat about pushing through difficult times, new product launches, childhood memories, and more.