Caroline Bogush | Miss Petunia Mary

October 19, 2016
customized travel journal

Caroline Bogush’s journals are beautiful, well crafted, and sure to please any travel lover. Here, she talks about starting her business and her favorite destinations.

How did you get started with making journals?

Well, I’ve beenpainting for 10 years consistently, which is a really long time for a hobby. It’s kind of a family thing. My grandma is a painter and I started taking classes when I was 10, and now I’m 22. I was inspired on my first Italy trip to do these Italy painitngs, then I did a mini Italy book. I had been painting and always wanted to have an etsy for my art. Being a crafty, artsy person, I always wanted to make a book, then I met someone who makes them and I thought it was so cool, so I looked up DIY instructions and made one. I was so impressed with myself, but the book was so lame. When I look at it now I just laugh. The same weekend, my great aunt was being put in a nursing home, and my mom came back from clearing out her house with 200 National Geographic maps. I thought, I can make books and cover them in maps! So I started to do it, looked at the competition, and developed my first book. I had my first sale a month later and things started to pick up more around Christmas.

Caroline Bogush

How have your journals changed since you started?

I went from hand making the journals to purchasing inserts from a supplier. Now I have hand-stitched books for people, with covers that match their itineraries. They can have Paris on the front, England on the back. It’s very customized, and as of now I’m the only Etsy supplier that offers that.

Tell me more about customization. Are all journals customized? 

I do have pre-made designs people can pick from.  I make a variety of covers, and when they sell that’s when I add the inserts. When people want something customized, they can inbox me. From there, I work with them on what maps they want, where they want them, if they want their name, the date of trip, etc. I try to make them as customized as possible.

Italy travel journal

How did you come up with the name?

Petunia Mary was nickname I had as a child. I don’t know why my mom called me that she just did, and it stuck!

Is this your full-time job?

No, I wish! I’m a full-time student, studying marketing at Montclair State in New Jersey.

What’s your favorite part of running this business?

Probably hearing stories from people about where they’re going . I’ve also gotten thank you cards, which mean a lot. I keep all of them. The nice reviews people leave are great too! means a lot to hear about people’s journeys and what they’re doing. I’ve gotten stuff from people whose sons or nephews are going to the service, people on mission trips, there’s a lot of variety and I like adding to these people’s journeys, whatever they are.

handmade journal

What’s the biggest challenge?

The competition, definitely. But I’ve gotten busier and am at a good point, especially juggling school. Finding my voice on social media and learning how to get the word out was also difficult. Just explaining to people what my product is.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

I’ve been around the US a decent amount. My family goes away the day after christmas for a week every year, and I love that tradition. Internationally, I would say Italy, but in the US I really do love to go to the city {New York City}. I’m so close, and there’s so much to do there. I really do think it’s the best city in the world. I’ll never move because I don’t want to leave it. Broadway shows, Central Park, museums…it’s my favorite.

When you travel, what’s in your carry on?

I always bring a really thick book–something I know I’m going to like so I’m not stuck with something unenjoyable all trip. Earplugs are huge, because I hate the sound of the jet. An extra set of clothes, and a lot of vaseline for my lips.

What else is coming up for Miss Petunia Mary? 

There’s so much more to come! I’m looking to expand. I want to start painting more and creating travel posters. I really like those and  hope to bring them to the shop soon.

You can buy Caroline’s journals here, and follow her for news and beautiful photos on Instagram.

thailand travel journal

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