Sponsored by The Rogue Crusade
While The Rogue Crusade may be a fairly new addition to downtown Gallipolis, owner Jess Thompson has been building her business’ brand online for years.
The adventure started over six years ago, when Thompson, who graduated from the University of Rio Grande with a degree in graphic design, started selling her work online.
“When I graduated I had all of these files that had piled up I didn’t know what to do with. They were just collecting dust on my computer. I decided to put them on an Etsy store,” said Thompson.
The majority of the works she posted were planner pages she had created to customize her own planners and, as it turned out, others also found her creations useful and began purchasing the printable planner pages from her Etsy store. For several years, Thompson focused on freelance work and creating for others, but maintained her presence on Etsy and sold her own creations on the side.
It was while sharing a space with another artist in Gallipolis in 2013 that Thompson’s focus started to shift.
“I started to make more of my own work, again, throwing things up to see what would happen. It just kind of grew from there,” said Thompson.
Enter Thompson’s cousin, Jasymnn Heiskell, who was interested in making soaps, but had no desire to actually sell them online herself. She approached Thompson with the idea of adding her soaps to Thompson’s Etsy store. Over Chinese food, the two put their heads together, drew from their shared love of fantasy, their individual talents and a new idea was formed.
“We just put all of that together and eventually it became The Rogue Crusade,” said Thompson. “It kind of took on a life of its own.”
While at first, Thompson stuck with Etsy, she eventually started experimenting with different websites, ranging from websites she built herself to utilizing available software, before finally landing on her current site, launched last year.
On that site, customers can find a wide variety of items, ranging from printable planning pages to fandom collections, all wrapped up in a fantasy lifestyle brand, which makes it difficult to describe The Rogue Crusade. Thompson credits the uniqueness of her site with lessons she learned at the University of Rio Grande, specifically from her professor Benjy Davies.
“A big part of our classes was learning how to think conceptually. One of the big things we used to focus on was taking two ideas that people might not normally think would go together, then put them together and that’s how Art is made,” said Thompson. “That’s kind of what I’ve done with fantasy and bohemian traveler planner people and I’m kind of trying to marry that into something new. That’s kind of what the whole brand is about.”
Then in 2017, Thompson took another step with The Rogue Crusade and opened a physical store in downtown Gallipolis. Keeping with the fantasy theme, the shop features various gift and novelty items, ranging from snarky cards to handmade wands. The reaction she’s received from some of the customers, who walk in and say, “I belong here. This is wonderful,” was one of the reasons she decided to open the downtown location.
“Kids, especially,” said Thompson. “When they come in and they say it’s just like being in Harry Potter, it just makes my day.”
While the physical location is still growing, Thompson said the backbone of the business is still the website. She has spent the last month focusing on the web presence and adding to the online store.
“Any time a purchase is made on the website, it helps tremendously,” said Thompson.
In addition to the new items available in the store and online, The Rogue Crusade also recently announced upcoming classes focused on various topics, such as photography and 3D printing.
For more about The Rogue Crusade, visit their online store, stop in their physical store located at 61 A Court Street, Gallipolis, or follow them on social media.