Breaking Ground 105 Arts - Artful Connections

by Elizabeth and Kit Tisdale
The photo of the three siblings show Marie, a young girl and a teen boy all standing huddled close together with big smiles. Each of the three are holding up multiple colorful notecards that they designed
Marie, Elizabeth, and Thomas Tisdale showing their cards for Jessamine Studios.

In 2020, Marie Tisdale and her younger brother, Thomas, and sister, Elizabeth, were home most of the time. They were home to stay safe from the coronavirus. They had school online and spent free time doing art and taking photographs. For Marie, making drawings, experimenting with color, and lettering were favorite ways to spend time. Art had been a hobby for many years, but in 2020, things changed. Art became a business.

In the spring of 2020, Marie’s grandmothers asked Marie and her siblings to make art and photography cards for them. Their grandmothers wanted to have cards to mail to their friends. Marie, Thomas, and Elizabeth had the idea to make a business with their cards. Summer jobs and internships outside the home were not safe options for them. It was safe to start a business making cards together. Their online business helped them to make money and to learn how businesses work.

To get started, they had meetings and brainstormed ideas. Then, they learned how to order supplies, make products, organize inventory, set up a website, make sales, and ship orders. First, the grandmothers ordered cards. Then a lot of people ordered cards. They were in business.

Now it is 2021, and Marie and her siblings are building their business. Marie takes art classes to develop her skills. They hike together in the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee State Parks to find inspiration. They are using their art and experiences to develop new products that help customers connect with their friends, like the request made by their grandmothers during 2020.

Marie is a teen with Down syndrome, long brown hair, glasses and a blue shirt. She stands and looks down at a worktable with two pieces of paper on it.
Marie at work customizing a Power M card for Jessamine Studios

We interviewed Marie to learn more about the business.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

I am Marie Tisdale. I am 17 years old, and I live in Maryville, Tennessee. I am a junior at Maryville High School. I love art because I like working with shade and value. I listen to music when I do art and when I work. My favorite music is Jonas Brothers. I hike every weekend and I like rocky trails like Andrew’s Bald near Clingman’s Dome.

Q: Tell us about your business.

It is Jessamine Studios. We sell cards and stickers. We use our art and photos to make cards and stickers. People buy them on our website

Q: Why did you start your business?

We were home during quarantine. We needed jobs. I decided with my brother and sister to start a business.

Q: You are a digital student in high school. When do you work?

I work during school for work-based learning class. I work after school and on the weekends, too.

Q: What work do you do for your business?

I make art, and we pick out art to use for cards. I make cards by printing, cutting, folding, and sometimes adding color. I use the printer and cutting machine to make stickers. I am in charge of inventory, so I make labels and sort the cards. I help my sister fill orders and mail orders. My brother runs the website and takes photos. We do photoshoots for cards to put on the website. We do everything.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Jessamine Studios?

It is awesome. The work is fun to do.

Q: What are you doing next for your business?

We just had a meeting to plan this year. I have new cards to make. I am making thank you card sets. I am making a new card with Nick Jonas on it. He is my favorite Jonas Brother, and I did a drawing of him.

Q: How can people learn about your business?

I want people to go to the website, There is a video we made about our business. Watch the video and look at the cards. I am proud of it. I hope people like it.

Marie holds up a large canvas with an incredibly impressive and detailed, lifelike sketch of the pop singer Nick Jonas in black and white, shown from the chest up. Marie’s face with brown hair and glasses just peeks over the top of the large piece of art. Marie has Down syndrome.
Marie showing her sketch of Nick Jonas that she will make into a card for Jessamine Studios.