Portrait of Shannon Cohen outside backed into greenery

On Target: GVSU graduate has line of motivational greeting cards at retailer

Within the greeting card industry, Grand Valley alumna Shannon Cohen has made it to the show. 

Cohen, ’99 and ’01, is the principal of Shannon Cohen Inc., which includes her line of Tough Skin Soft Heart (TSSH) greeting cards and other inspirational products. Grocery stores, boutique shops and other retailers throughout Michigan and 15 other states carry Cohen's products. 

And now Cohen, a Detroit native who now lives in Grand Rapids, can add 1,700 Target retail stores to the list. Greeting cards designed by Cohen will be prominently displayed at Target stores through March. 

Cohen launched TSSH five years ago. Her cards, stickers and other products carry messages like "Girl, You Have Greatness in Your Bones," "When You Lead, People Flourish," and "Shine on Sis." The distinctive messages are one reason an American Greetings executive expects Cohen's cards will do well at Target.

"Shannon's line is unique, fresh and relevant," said Kelly Ricker, chief creative officer for American Greetings. "Her messages are empowering to women at a time when we need it in our society. Hers is a voice we need within our products."

greeting cards designed by Shannon Cohen
Several greeting cards designed by Cohen are pictured.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
Shannon Cohen seated on sofa
Shannon Cohen earned two degrees from GVSU.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
stickers designed by Shannon Cohen are pictured
Pictured are motivational stickers designed by Cohen.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

Cohen, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in public administration, called Target an iconic retailer and said her cards will give people hope during an uncertain time. 

"I believe the addition of our cards at Target give new meaning to the concept of retail therapy," Cohen said. "People are hurting in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the year that 2020 was. My hope is that the messages of my TSSH greeting cards meet people at their greatest point of need. 

"Creating products that nourish the soul is what we do exceptionally well."

Ricker met Cohen at the 2019 National Stationery Show in New York City. Hundreds of independent makers like Cohen purchase booths to display products at the trade show with companies like Hallmark and American Greetings in an attempt to make connections with retailers and buyers. 

To get to the Stationery Show, Cohen combined family savings with the first-place prize money she won at the Michigan Women Forward Dolphin Tank pitch competition held at GVSU. The competition for women entrepreneurs is similar to TV's "Shark Tank." 

It was an emotional moment for Cohen to see her cards at Target. 

"I thought about our son, who was 15-months-old at our first photoshoot, of my friends who served as models when I couldn't afford to pay anyone, and I thought about my husband, who has invested in this idea from the start," she said. 

"The tears came from the sacrifices my family has made. But they were happy tears."


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