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Meet Jenn Banks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Banks. 

Hi Jenn, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started Tidal Salt in 2014 after my husband (then boyfriend) accused me of not having any hobbies. As is my nature, I plunged full force into creating a hobby-turned-business. Way way way back before 2014 I joked about owning a shop on main st in Sykesville. Tidal Salt started out with wire-wrapped sea glass jewelry and blossomed into laser-cut crafts, glittered tumblers, and ultimately a storefront where myself and other makers could sell our goods. 

I did the day job gig until 2019 and then I up and quit my job to go full time. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I knew my job was killing my creativity and hurting my family. So, with a 6-month-old by my side, I started working from home and expanding my online presence. Covid came rearing its ugly butt shortly after and my business EXPLODED. I was inundated with orders and behind by at least 10 weeks- USPS couldn’t get the mail to me on time, my manufacturers were getting sick and delaying orders, it felt like my business would fail miserably and I would be back at an office job in no time. We did make it through the backlog of orders and survived the holidays even though USPS tried their hardest not to deliver anyone’s packages on time. 

February 2021 an old friend messaged me to let me know there was a shop available on main st- someone had gone out of business (this never happens) and I had 3 days to come visit and make a decision. I walked into 7602 main and was instantly sold on the stained glass and warm hardwoods. The built-in shelving and chandelier were just an added bonus. It didn’t take much convincing to sign a lease. 

I signed my lease March 5, 2021, and on April 17, 2021, we opened our doors with a line around the block that lasted for most of the day. We created a community where 60+ local makers showcase their art and a place to find the best gifts around. My business is where it is today due in large part to the amazing online community I have built. My clients have become like friends and family who have supported me, cheered me on, and stepped up to help in any way they can. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been paved in struggle after struggle- all was smooth sailing from 2014-2019 when the business was a part-time gig. Once I was home full time with my 6-month-old and a thriving business, I quickly realized I could not keep up with all of the volumes. I had long turnaround times, dreaded checking emails, and developed anxiety. By July of 2020, my business had grown 240% and I was just barely hanging on. I brought in help, borrowed family members, had customers step in to help prep and pack. I did everything I could to keep going and it all fell into place once I was able to open the storefront. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am known for my glitter tumblers! Everyone needs a little sparkle in their life and they are a great way to show off your personality or things you love. Outside of my own crafting, I am most proud of the store itself- I was truly able to create a community space where others could showcase their talents right alongside my own items. I have given a home to so many other talented makers in my local community and this state. 

What sets me apart- I have an abundance mindset- I truly believe we can all find success and I love helping other small businesses grow. 

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Do not sell an item before it is in your hands- murphy’s law says that USPS will not deliver it. 

I did learn the true meaning of community- mine surely did gather around and lift myself and my business up when we needed it most. Had covid not happened I may not be where I am today 

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