Julie Ward: The 3/50 Project’s latest rock star

by Cinda Baxter on November 22, 2011

in Holidays, Marketing, The 3/50 Project

As most of you know, The 3/50 Project’s “Keep the Cheer Here” holiday campaign got its name from a contest we ran a few weeks ago. Our winner, Julie Ward (Pasadena, CA) gave us the words; all I had to do was add the look and feel. Thanks to her, we have a home run on our hands.

In addition to a $350 gift card, the grand prize included a profile piece here on the blog, linked to Twitter, then Facebook. So…it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Julie Ward, the author of our now famous holiday moniker:

(Me): Most of us who appreciate “mom and pop” businesses recall a special one from childhood that still makes us smile. How about you? 

(Julie): It was a shop at Fig Garden Village, near my house, called Not Just Paper. The store was full of cards and stickers and pencils and all the things kids just love to look at. I used to love to go down there to spend my allowance money on stickers, because I collected them when I was little. My friends and I would ride our bikes–we’d go to Blum’s and get our candy, then we’d go to Not Just Paper. When we entered, the bell would jingle, the owner would be there, they were always so friendly. I loved that.

Tell me about yourself….

I have a seven year old daughter and a nine year son. Our family lives near a wonderful school, which is important. The kids are happy, and we’re rooted in the community. That’s important too.

I used to be a producer for docu-reality shows on the Travel Channel and Discovery Channel. After having kids, I slowed down a little bit and began writing for television. One of the things that drew me to The 3/50 Project was my experience working on a show called “Made in America” with John Ratzenburger. I loved profiling iconic American companies that started out in people’s garages.

I learned how much ingenuity there is in our country and how much of a leg up people need when they start a small business. You need people to buy your products, and when they do, you can become a Fender Guitar or a big giant company. I really enjoyed hearing those stories.

Love your mindset, Julie—especially since you have kids. Those who grow up in a home that embraces independent businesses tend to carry it into adulthood. 

My mom took us shopping with her. The things I use as a parent myself are things my parents taught me. I have to give them all the credit.

There is a value to kids seeing someone open a cupcake shop on Main Street, there is a value to having clothing shop, [inspiring them to believe] “Whatever my interest is, I can do that.” I think that’s awesome.

There’s something appealing to their sense of altruism and their sense of passion and their creativity. There’s a place for the little sunlit store or that little tax office right on Main Street that takes care of the locals, knows them by name. There’s something very magical about that that will capture kids’ imagination.

Do your kids “get it?” 

Seven entrepreneurs, two toy cash registers, and a donation to the local school

Yes. This summer, they decided to open a lemonade stand with their friends, then decided they were going to give the proceeds to the school supply drive. They made $50 on a Thursday morning, which was pretty amazing. I took the kids to Webster’s Stationery and we spent the money there. I told them “We’re not going to Staples, we’re going to take it to a business that has put so much into our community, and is such a great supporter of our schools and all our local businesses.” It was great. The kids picked whatever they wanted, threw it in the basket, and off we went.

What really resonates with you when it comes to independent businesses?

One of the things I enjoy when I do go shopping is wandering around, looking for that special treasure. It’s hard to find something like that when you’re breezing through Target to grab that box of laundry detergent or whatever. You’re just not going to find those special items that are unique, and are handmade, and have love put into them by the person who created them. and the stores that carry them–they select things based on their sensibilities as well, with passion and emotion in every selection that they make.

If money and time commitment were no object, and someone handed you the keys to any kind of business you could run as your own, what would it be?

I would open up a shop that mixed finely curated antiques and art, including arts and crafts, allowing people to present their creativity to the world. For customers, they could glean some creativity, and take something special home, whether it be something old that somebody treasured a long time ago or something new that’s treasured now. Those are my favorite kinds of shops, hands down, aside from stationery. There would be a stationery component, I’m sure.

How did you come up with the name “Keep the Cheer Here?”

As a writer, words are interesting to me. The first thing that popped into my head was “Keep the cheer here,” but of course, I dismissed it since the first idea is never the best idea. I went about my life for the next couple of days, dropping off the kids here and there, going to the yogurt shop down the street, you know–all the stuff that you do. Then it hit me. “Keep the cheer here”—that’s what the holidays are all about. It’s about home, and being near the people that you love, spending money in the shops that are nearest to you, nearest to your home. It was seeing the blocks around my house and thinking “keep the cheer here.”

What are you going to do with your $350 gift card (the prize for winning the contest)? 

I’m going to march right down to Old Town, and go to Lula Mae, which is a little shop in Old Town, and I’m going to do some Christmas shopping!

Thanks again, Julie, for your passion, creativity, and fab-u-lous “Cheer.”  You really rocked it!



Holly Bretschneider November 22, 2011 at 6:35 am

Great piece, Cinda. Huge kudos to Julie for such a wonderful catch phrase. And, so nice to see the fabulous shout-out to Webster’s Stationery!

MM November 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

Homerun is one word.

Editor’s note: Actually, it’s two, confirmed by Webster’s Dictionary here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homerun

Jan Brockway November 23, 2011 at 12:39 am

Okay. That just made my day. The lemonade stand photo is SO adorable! Thank you Julie and Cinda for elevating this idea to new levels. Bravo!

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