Dog with Jenni Earle bandana

People of Winston: Jenni Hopkins

by Alison Shermeta
Get to know Jenni Hopkins, who used her artistry to create a meaningful brand with authentic messages.
Jenni Hopkins

“I grew up hearing the story of the phoenix as this majestic, wise bird whose nest catches on fire.  She does not succumb to the struggle and the flames; she rises out of the flames and is reborn from her own strength.  That was the story I had, up until just after my depression.  So the part of the story that I didn’t know – was that the phoenix lit the fire.”

About a decade ago, Jenni Hopkins went through a severe depression.  Once she was able to climb out from underneath it, and in order to leave it firmly behind her, Jenni bravely reorganized her life and put herself at the top; she focused on herself, her artistry, and committed to a creative life.  Her goal was to encourage authenticity in others and to spread this life-giving message of bravery.  What she made is Jenni Earle, a brand built on creating tangible affirmations, thoughtfully designed bandanas with a purpose.  Messages like be bravefeel the fear, and blaze a trail appear along one corner of each handmade, so-soft bandana in her curvy, looping script. “We sell these things so people can hopefully have a touchpoint, a reminder, of courage.”

What once began as a one-woman operation in her home, dying fabric in a pot on her stove, Jenni Earle has grown into a thriving business and studio located downtown.  Their operation is eco-conscious and hyperlocal, using cotton grown in the south and printed and dyed right here in Winston.  And in accordance with her mission, 5% of Jenni Earle’s net sales are donated to mental health organizations. As she sees it, part of her job now is to go back into the creative community of artists and makers in Winston-Salem who helped her grow and to mentor rising entrepreneurs, helping them take their own first steps.  Because, she says, “there are times in our lives when we could choose to stay safe in the nest, comfortable to a degree – or we can jump, we can light that nest on fire to see where it takes us.” 

July 29, 2021