Detroit woman's 'Tough Skin, Soft Heart' card line earns American Greetings deal

Shannon Cohen's big break came at a stationary show where she met an executive from American Greetings. 

She used her own savings and first-place prize money from a Shark Tank-style competition hosted on Grand Valley State University's campus - her alma matter - to get there. The rest is history 

"I've always wanted to create gifts that nourish the human soul in every season we find ourselves in," Cohen said. "This was my response to often going to look for cards to encourage difference makers in my life."

"Girl, You Have Greatness in Your Bones." "When You Lead, People Flourish." Those are more than sayings they're more like inspirational mantras put on cards by Cohen, a Detroit native.

"Put your creativity out into the world and growth looks good on you," she said. "So, I like to say that our greeting cards, you can keep them, you can frame them, and they can be everyday affirmations that you can apply to every day, every season of your life and leadership." 

"My greeting card line is checking in on your strong friends, that I know that strength and pain lie within the same place," she said.

Shannon Cohen

Cohen is the owner of Shannon Cohen Inc. which includes her line of Tough Skin Soft Heart greeting cards and other inspirational items. An endeavor she's been at for five years.

And she's just gotten her big break - the cards are now being featured in more than 1,700 Target stores because of a partnership with American Greetings.

"In the Detroit area we're at the Woodward Corner Market, which is a Meijer store, we're at hotel, hospital gift shops. That has been part of our journey, part of our climb, just building relationships with retailers.

"Part of why I love that we have a partnership with American Greetings is that we understand more and more, that representation matters," she said. "That there is genius and creativity that has been often overlooked or underestimated. 

"So I am really excited that not only are we debuting in Target with this partnership with American Greetings, but one of the headings you'll see for this particular campaign, is 'Celebrating Black Creativity.' So what a perfect time just to honor the way in which we bring our cultural identity to our design."

Some of Shannon Cohen's Tough Skin Soft Heart greeting card line.

Cohen's products are now in 15 states including Michigan. She said she cried happy tears the first time she saw her cards in a big box store because of how far she has come.