Becca McGovern-Clarke always wanted to do something with animals when she was older. Back in grade school, she aspired to become a zookeeper or veterinarian. Now? She is receiving texts from customers that say, “You got his neck rolls exactly right!”
While she may not be asking someone if their furry friend is feeling okay, some might say she is asking a better question:
“Can I draw your pet?”
The former collegiate athlete, woman-in-tech and studious entrepreneur went to business school where a class she took made her realize the importance of taking notice of something that energizes you and running with it.
For her, that something was being creative and coming up with ideas for holiday and greeting cards. And so, in her apartment during the COVID winter holiday season, Maker / Scholar was born.
The name is a play on words, as a Baker Scholar is someone who is top of their class at Harvard Business School, where she was getting her MBA at the time. “It was me being like, I’ll never be a Baker Scholar. I’m selling my doodles online for the winter,” McGovern-Clarke said. If only she could see herself now…
“My first batch of cards for the holiday, I was putting glitter and pipe cleaners on everything,” McGovern-Clarke recalled. “My apartment was a fucking mess, and there was glitter ground into the carpet. But, I loved it.”
She would wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for a new card and add it to the never-ending laundry list in her notes app. One of her all-time favorites? A break-up card with a dog giving a side eye that says, “is it too soon to say my dog never liked him anyway?”
Her favorite part of making cards is seeing people interact and resonate with them.
After being invited to her biggest pop-up event where she could sell cards, she had no idea how that day (and her brand) would unfold into quite the furry venture.
With the weather being bad that day and foot traffic being slow, her cards weren’t getting the greeting she had hoped. It was time to improvise and pivot. Having her one college painting course and a few experiences drawing animals in her back pocket, McGovern-Clarke approached a woman, asked if she could draw her dog and told her she would be back in 10 minutes.
Her card pop-up turned into a line of people asking for their pet’s portrait. And after someone came back the next day and asked for one of her other pets, the Maker Scholar knew that she was onto something.
Now? She has weekly pet portrait appointments at In Good Co. in Southie where people sign up on her website beforehand, submit a photo of their pet and then come pick it up. The weekly commissions drop at 11 AM every Tuesday and sell out fast. She was even asked by American Provisions and other restaurants to come during the week and draw dogs for their customers!
“I wouldn’t be where I am without Kait McKenna Radkowski from In Good Co., who said, “Bring in all your cards, we’ll sell them,” or American Provisions saying, “Come hang out on our patio on a Wednesday night,” McGovern-Clarke said. “I don’t take that for granted.”
Outside of Southie or other local pop-ups, if you are ever on the Cape, you can find her cards and dog bandanas (another one of her favorite products) at Thatcher Ellery in Sandwich, MA. She hopes to have her creations in more stores over the next year.
With the holiday season coming around, she is running Maker / Scholar full-time for the first time. If you’ve never gotten a pet portrait done, go for it! And if you’ve got one done (or a few), be on the lookout for custom pet ornaments, which she will be rolling out soon.
From doodling in her room to doodling full-time, McGovern-Clarke has definitely created a masterpiece of a career.
Check out her custom work here or follow Maker / Scholar on Instagram to be kept up to date on future drops!