We had the good fortune of connecting with Tanya Crooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tanya, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I always had a heart for the incarcerated population because of my father. Growing up, every holiday, occasion, and birthday, I always had a really hard time finding a card that fit my family’s situation. I always found plenty of Father’s Day cards, but they always had verbiage that unfortunately I can’t relate to. People that have a loved one(s) incarcerated are so limited on what they can send through the mail, so being able to send a card is like a present. Greeting cards also gives me the ability to work from home.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I created BigHouse Card Co. specifically for people like me who are currently impacted by incarceration.

My vision is to have BigHouse in as many stores as possible. I believe it’s important to have these cards out in public to create social change regarding the shame with incarceration. I want to help remove the embarrassment and shame that people have when they have a family member who’s incarcerated. To be transparent, until I started this business, I only told one person about my father being in prison. Growing up, I would constantly lie about where my dad was and what he did for work. Many times, people hide their incarcerated family member or friend out of fear of rejection, judgment, and embarrassment. It is a fact that almost half, if not half of Americans have experienced a family member incarcerated. I want to educate mainstream society that often, many people in prison know they did wrong, are deeply remorseful, and change their lives completely.

Through this business, I have made awesome connections with people who can relate to my situation, and had many people message me expressing how thankful they are that greeting cards like this now exist. I get messages from people who share that they’re still really struggling with being open about their incarcerated family member, but by seeing me be open about my family, it inspires them to start working on not hiding their loved one. It truly has been a positive healing journey.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since I’m in Nor-Cal, I would probably take them to San Francisco! We would go to the ocean, take in the smells of the water and fresh sourdough bread and see all the sights at the Wharf, smell the garlic in the air and get cute pastries in North Beach “Little Italy”, go window shop at high designer stores in Union Square, get sushi in JapanTown, grab a souvenir in ChinaTown, drive across the Golden Gate, and visit the historic-hippy vibes and take selfies in front of a mural of Jimmy Hendrix l in Haight-Ashbury.

I love San Francisco because it is the epitome of eclectic. It is extremely diverse in every way possible, there are so many things to see, taste, smell, feel in the 7 mile radius of a city, that it really makes it a full sensory exciting experience.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my father. Thank you for choosing to stay in my life all these years despite the circumstances. I can’t imagine my life without you as my father. I have faith that the day is coming that we will no longer being separated by prison walls.

Website: https://bighousecards.com/

Instagram: @bighousecardco

Facebook: BigHouse Card Co.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.