Suzy Strachan (left) and Brittney Braemer, co-owners of stationery shop Handzy in Covington. Provided
Brittney Braemer and Suzy Strachan have been best friends since their days in design school at DAAP. They daydreamed about ditching the corporate design world and opening their own shop, which they did shortly after graduating in 2014.
Handzy started in a small, rented space in Brighton where Braemer and Strachan designed their own line of stationery — they started their retail business at the City Flea and other local craft fairs. At the same time, they were doing graphic design for small locally owned businesses.
Last May, they found an empty storefront in Covington, and you could say that the rest is history. But their own space to call home is just the beginning for these girl bosses — they’ve hired a new designer, designed more custom wedding invites, hosted creative workshops and launched a new and improved website — all in less than a year.
1. What’s your next big move?
We’re always making big moves! Recently, we’ve been working on bringing a small collection of the products we offer in our brick-and-mortar shop to an online store. (That store can be found here.)
2. What has been your biggest challenge?
As new business owners, we’ve faced so many challenges! From the start, we have been good about admitting when we don’t know how to do something. Because of this, we have surrounded ourselves with mentors. We got a business mentor through SCORE — without him and his guidance on topics like taxes, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
3. What has been your luckiest break?
I’m not sure if we believe in luck, even though we do love playing the lottery. We are only in business today from long hours, a lot of hard work and trying our best to operate without fear. We have made good friends and business partnerships along the way, and their support is our luckiest break.
4. Why is Covington the right city?
We love the Cov! There is a very supportive and collaborative design community here and that drew us to this area. We feel like we bring something unique to Covington that wasn’t here before. There are tons of cool, new things happening our neighborhood and it feels good to be a part of that!
5. Give a shoutout to three people who are doing good work in Greater Cincinnati.
-Austin Dunbar, the guy behind Durham Brand & Co. We can see his shop and studio from our front window. He’s an amazing designer and all-around hilarious person. He’s given us all kinds of advice since we moved in and has been the most welcoming of neighbors.
-James Billiter. If you’ve never heard his name, you’ve definitely seen his work! His laugh is the best and his graphic style is iconic. We sell a selection of his prints in our shop, and he has also been a great friend and mentor to us.
-The Grainwell ladies (Melyssa, Michele and Christine). They’re a group of girl bosses on the other end of Pike Street. Cross the river and check out their shop if you’re ever heading our way!