Judi Jacobsen, The Wearer of Many Hats
Being the new girl has its challenges. But, it can also mean catching the attention of a handsome young man.
“It was the first day of high school – my freshman year. The teacher was taking role and when she said my name, Connie (short for Conrad) didn’t recognize it. He turned around and thought I was cute,” Judi Jacobsen told me with a smile.
We were sitting on the deck of her Park Shore condo. “When the sun is out in Seattle, you go outside,” she told me when I arrived. It was a rule by which she and Connie lived. It was just one of the pieces of wisdom I learned from her that day.
Judi, wife of the late Protestant minister, Conrad W. Jacobsen, is a mother of four. She has her Bachelors of Home Economics from the University of Washington. As a stay-at-home mom in the 1970s, she launched her own business – a greeting-card company now known as Madison Park Group.
While she was born with the entrepreneurial gene – her father and three brothers all went into business for themselves, as did two of her children and her niece and nephew – starting a business wasn’t the original goal. Judi’s sights were set a little closer to home.
“By 30, I wanted to have all my kids, take up tennis, and learn to paint,” she said. Behind us, her Park Shore condo echoed her artistic talents. It was immaculately decorated with colorful pieces of art and furniture. Around her neck hung a bright necklace crafted from glass beads. She fingered it lovingly.
“My grandson made this for me. He studies glassblowing at school,” she told me with pride. Art, like entrepreneurship, is clearly a talent in the Jacobsen line. But as with most talents, training and dedication were required to help Judi recognize her full potential.
Without a car or formal childcare, Judi made arrangements with a neighbor to swap kids once a week. “It’s not the kind of thing you do today, but I just knocked on a woman’s door who had kids the same age as mine. I asked her if she was interested in swapping once a week and that was that,” Judi told me.
During her free days, she walked to the home of local artist Barbara Sargent where she learned the basics of oil painting. “I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I just wanted to paint,” she said. But, when Barbara recommended she enter a few art shows, Judi’s paintings quickly sold.
She began hosting an annual home party, fondly known as the “Christmas House.” It was suggested her paintings would lend themselves to greeting cards. And in 1977 they began to do just that. She and a good friend each pooled together $200. “That was a lot of money back then,” Judi pointed out.
Together, the two ladies printed eight Christmas cards and eight everyday cards. They sold like hotcakes. Lucy & Me was born. Judi later broke off on her own, forming Me Too. Eventually, the company was renamed Madison Park Greetings.
As if she weren’t wearing enough hats between “wife,” “mom,” and “business owner,” Judi has played an active role in the Seattle community. Supporting a variety of non-profits, she is particularly passionate about providing resources for battered and abused women. The Salvation Army recently recognized her service with the prestigious Others Award.
“Life’s not always what you expect it to be. Things don’t always go as planned. You have to be flexible. And, you have to learn how to text and use Facebook. If you’re a grandmother, it’s really the only way to communicate with your grandkids,” Judi advised.
Thank you for the words of wisdom Judi. You bring a light into this world and a passion for life that makes all those you touch better.