Jahrie Houle: Small Business Owner & Nature Enthusiast

     “Art inspired by nature” is the motto for freshman Jahrie Houle’s small business, Jahrie Ann Designs, and her products reflect just that.

     Along with being a freshman at Oyster River High School (ORHS), Jahrie Houle (’26), is a small-business owner, artist, nature enthusiast and so much more. During the Covid-19 quarantine, Houle began an Etsy business called Jahrie Ann Designs which sells items like cards, keychains, stickers, and washi tapes to name a few. It took off and was a great new way for her to combine her art skills and love for all things nature. Her most popular items are stickers with positive messages which reflect her positive personality and doodles of the hobbies she loves like hiking, climbing, and running.

     Before her business started, Houle would always make cards for family and friend’s birthdays and other occasions. The business started naturally from that. “People would tell me I should sell [the cards] and so I did,” said Houle. “It was something that I started during Covid when we were at home and I needed something to do. I’ve always liked art and designing things; it all just came together,” she said.

     Houle runs her business very independently. She does everything from biking to the post office to mail her products to handling all of the finances. However, she explained that she has received lots of support from family and friends. She also noted that the business “has changed quite a bit with what I’ve sold. When I first started, I was drawing cards and then I wanted to make stickers and washi tapes. It’s all been gradual changes. There hasn’t been a huge shift but definitely over time it has evolved.”

     Eliza Hall (’25) has been friends with Houle for a while through their youth group, the cross-country team, and a rock-climbing team they do together. Among the things Hall described about Houle was how “she’s really creative, hence her business.” Hall continued to explain how the business is a reflection of Houle as a person: “I think [her hobbies] influence her business. I’ve seen some stickers with carabiners, climbing helmets, and mountains so it’s kind of like outdoorsy stuff combined with a positive message [which is] kind of like her personality.”

     Kelly Zhang (‘23) was a captain on the cross-country team which is how she met Houle. Over the past season Zhang noticed how Houle is “an outdoorsy person. She likes hiking. She’s very good at running: for a freshman she’s super fast so that definitely feeds her outdoorsy athleticism.”

     For Houle, the transition to high school has impacted her business a bit. She reflected on how she has a lot of things competing for her time right now, such as being a member of the varsity cross-country team, having schoolwork, and just life in general. “It can be hard to consistently focus on [the business.] I haven’t been posting or making new things [as much] so I’m hoping that soon things will settle down and I’ll be able to focus on it more,” she said.

     Houle draws most of her stickers by hand then fixes them up digitally. From there, she prints them on sticker paper and adds contact paper over top to make them waterproof.

     One of her favorite parts of the business is “being able to ship everything out and know that people across the country can buy something that I made.” As of the end of 2021, people had purchased from 10 different states including California and Washington, and currently Houle has made upwards of 100 sales with 65 five-star reviews on her Etsy site.

     Houle uses Instagram to promote her business by posting designs, updates, and new products. At first glance you’ll see shades of green, nature scenes, and doodles made by Houle across her feed. Grace Kasper (’25) doesn’t know Houle personally but is a follower and found her business on Instagram. Kasper shared that she follows Houle for her cute designs but also said, “I just love that she is a woman running a small business. I think it’s so cool that there’s people like her in our school who are able to do that and she’s getting support.”

     Zhang also discovered Houle’s business on Instagram after getting to know her through cross-country. “I didn’t know that artsy side of her and it definitely aligns with her nature loving, kind, positive personality,” said Zhang.

     As far as the future of Jahrie Ann Designs goes, “I hope that it is a thing I can enjoy for a while and I would love for it to keep going so I can keep making things,” Houle said. Be sure to check out both her Instagram, @jahrieanndesigns, and her Etsy shop, jahrieanndesigns.etsy.com.

– Libby Davidson

Image Courtesy of Jahrie Houle