• Cardinal Fern

Cardinal Fern's Origin Story

Sarah’s Side

I graduated at the height of the recession in 2009 with a degree in political science from App State, and no plan. Thankfully, I have very supportive parents who welcomed me back home with my tail between my legs. I was working at the local library, and since I have always loved reading I decided to apply to graduate school for my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. While I was waiting for a decision from the various schools, my mom told me about a part time data entry job at a local marketing firm. I applied, interviewed with the partners and landed the job! Small thing though, I didn’t know what marketing actually was. I literally Googled it when I got home.

Thus began my venture into marketing. I did get into a MILS graduate program, but I decided to stay at the company I was working with at the time. I worked at this small firm for several years, starting with data entry and moving through the ranks until I was an account manager working directly with clients. This firm was instrumental in forming my foundation in marketing, and the partners were always willing to let me look over their shoulders and learn directly from them. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

Fast forward several years, several different cities, marriage and two kids. I was at another crossroads in my life. I had a Masters in Arts Administration from Boston University, several years experience in nonprofit fundraising and marketing, and experience in large scale corporate marketing. Most recently, I had led a marketing team at a local fitness franchise and found a person who processed things similarly to me, had amazing contributions to my ideas and her own amazing ideas-- Kelsi. I wanted something more and I began to toy with the idea of wanting to start my own marketing business.

Then one fateful Wednesday morning Kelsi called me to chat. (Just as background Kelsi and I rarely spoke on the phone unless it was about business at a scheduled time, we mostly texted and emailed one another.) She was dropping her son off at school and had a moment, and I was rushing my little ones out the door for preschool. This conversation through a chaotic morning literally changed my life.

In that one phone call we established three very important things: we like each other, we trust each other, and we wanted to start a business. Within four weeks we had a name, social media handles, and an LLC. Kelsi and I formed our business with the conscious decision to be transparent and trust with one another.

Kelsi’s Side

As a young child all I ever wanted to be was a mom. Nothing ever seemed to be the right fit when I would imagine different career paths. After high school I headed to the mountains, Western Carolina University. I spent only a year there before heading back to Greensboro to figure out what my next steps were. I met a cute boy that was in Graduate school at North Carolina State University and quickly decided to follow that cute boy to the capital city. I fell in love with Raleigh and that boy that turned out to be husband material. I chose a Bachelor of Social Work because I still really just wanted to be a mom and the School Social Worker gig seemed perfect because I would have the same schedule as my little ones. I then found a passion for clinical work and legislative advocacy. I graduated and then went to East Carolina University for my Master in Social Work Degree.

By this point I married the one, he somehow convinced me to move out to a farm in Pittsboro and get bees and chickens. I loved it. To my core I loved it. We immediately started trying for our family. There were years of heartbreak and multiple losses. I couldn’t leave our farm. I was broken. I started a blog and then an Etsy business. Both were tremendously successful. I taught myself how to market my business and build a website. My blog reached over 3 million hits per year. But I really just wanted to be a mom. In 2013 we were blessed to have our healthy, perfect miracle son. My heart was no longer broken, it was filled with more love than I could have ever imagined.

I spent the first several years of his life enjoying every single snuggle and then I blinked and he was heading off to Kindergarten. It was time I, maybe for the first time, thought about what I wanted to do. Professionally, just for me. I had two degrees. Hands on experience with marketing and building websites. I was working for FIT4MOM Chapel Hill as their MOMS on a Mission Coordinator and their Marketing Team (with Sarah). I loved both roles but I longed for something more.

One Wednesday I was driving and my little guy was immersed in a book and I just felt an internal nudge to call Sarah. It was weird. She and I didn’t have the relationship where we would randomly talk on the phone. Heck, I am not a huge phone talker to anyone. Send me a text and throw in a .gif and I am your girl. I sat at two separate stoplights and the nagging feeling continued for me to call Sarah. So I did. I opened up to her about wanting more. Wanting something that was mine. To create something that wasn’t there before and to find a way to help in the community. This conversation changed my life.

In that one phone call we established we like each other and share the same work ethic. We trust each other. We wanted to start a business as 50/50 partners. Within four weeks we had a name, logo, social media handles, and an LLC. We formed our business with the conscious decision to be completely transparent and honest with one another. I continue to be incredibly grateful for this work and this opportunity to partner with Sarah. I would never have predicted this would be where I would be, but man, I am so thankful to be here.


©2020 by Cardinal Fern