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How Jackie Rodgers of Greentop Gifts Decided to Bet on Herself and It Proved to Be the Best Investment
by Dontaira Terrell
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December 14, 2019

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9 Minute Read

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How Jackie Rodgers of Greentop Gifts Decided to Bet on Herself and It Proved to Be the Best Investment

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.

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

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.

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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.

Meditation allows you the opportunity to clear your head, which is essential for me because I have a hard time turning off my brain.

BlackLove.com: Looking back, were there any indications from childhood that foreshadowed your desire to launch Greentop Gifts?

Jacquelyn Rodgers: Definitely. Growing up, my parents but mostly my mother loved the holidays and decorated tons of decor and multiple Christmas trees. So Christmas has always been a very big tradition in my household. I can remember my mom coloring greeting cards or painting ornaments brown. The creation of Greentop [Gifts] and Clarence Claus really started from my childhood and my memories of Christmas.

BL.com: Wearing many hats as a mommy, wife, business woman, friend, and the list goes on. How do you push through in your difficult times?

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

JR: We rely heavily on our village. We have an incredible support system of people that are here to help us with our kids to allow my husband and me to have some time [together]. I also try to make time for myself, especially during challenging moments. Even if it’s just a quick getaway to get out of the house, in the moments I can’t get away, meditation always helps. It helps me to center, refocus, and continue with my busy schedule. Meditation allows you the opportunity to clear your head, which is essential for me because I have a hard time turning off my brain. It really helps me to decompress and shut down.

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BL.com: Was there a point when you were hesitant to release Clarence Claus in fear of it not being ready to be shared with the world?

JR: No. I had no fear of sharing it because I was eager and really wanted it for my little boy. The first year I thought to myself that I’m going to launch this whether or not anyone buys it because it’s something that I want.

BL.com: Black female founders usually face constant rejection but continue to thrive in the face of adversity. Can you speak to one of your biggest failures?

JR: Earlier this year, we applied for a project, and we were told, “NO.” I was really eager because it was an opportunity to receive a lot of exposure. At the time, I was so upset, but I took all of that rejection and spun it around, becoming more passionate about launching our bags. That “NO” really gave me the drive to keep going and redirect that energy to the creation of our gift bags this year.

That “NO” really gave me the drive to keep going and redirect that energy.

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

BL.com: How is Clarence Claus an extension of Black Love?

JR: Clarence Claus is an extension of Black Love because it is representation. It is a reminder that our love needs to be displayed. It’s also important for not only us but for our children to see as well. It’s an ode to us, and I think it makes the holidays special.

BL.com: From the very beginning until now, what would you say launching Greentop Gifts has taught you about yourself?

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

JR: That’s a really great question! One of the things this experience has taught me is not to limit your creativity. There are a lot of instances when you ask yourself, “Can I do that?” “Is this possible?” Going from visually creating it in your head to actually holding it in your hand and seeing the concept come to life is one of the biggest takeaways this experience has taught me. Creatively, there are no limits to what you can achieve once you commit to doing it.

Related: How to Be a Mompreneur With Jewelry Designer Mel R. White

BL.com: If the world takes away one lesson from your legacy as the founder and creative force behind Clarence Claus, what is the message you hope rings loud and clear?

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

JR: Family, because it turned into something we were able to share with other families, and it was definitely important for my son and me. There are so many other parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles that believe it’s also important. They enjoy sharing it with their family and friends, and that’s what it’s all about.

BL.com: What’s next for Clarence Claus and Greentop Gifts?

JR: We have lots of requests and receive tons of emails for all kinds of items! Some of those requests we are going to work on in 2020. We’re excited about it! There are a few that people have consistently asked about, such as apparel items and new ways to reach our children.

To learn more and purchase your Clarence Claus holiday gifts, please visit greentopgiftscom.

Credit: Jackie Rodgers

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