’Tis the season to decorate, and if you love wreaths (and don’t we all?), then you’ll love the Hudson Valley Wreath Company and its super-talented and dynamic creator, Evelyne Kopp.
Evelyne launched the Hudson Valley Wreath Company in 2021, and in its first year the company was named a Hudson Valley “Best of” in the category of Entrepreneur – which it was also crowned this year, in 2023. That’s impressive, especially for a newer business. I wanted to know more.
Peak crazy season
I caught up with Evelyne in early October, and it’s a good thing I didn’t wait too much longer. “It’s peak crazy season,” she told me excitedly. “People like to start decorating for fall in mid-August, and they start planning for Christmas in mid-September. And Halloween is crazy now,” she said. In fact, the National Retail Federation’s annual survey on Halloween spending found that it was expected to rise almost 70% in 2023, and that decorations were right up there with candy and costumes.
The bigger occasions are still Thanksgiving and Christmas, and responding to her customers is what Evelyne thrives on. “I love, love, love the opportunity to be creative,” she said, “and I also love the community involvement of my business.”
Evelyne operates the Hudson Valley Wreath Company out of her home, where she has oodles of pretty things from which to create wreaths and whatever else inspires her along the way. Wreaths are seasonally appropriate, for sure, but they’re also popular year-round. Evelyne creates one-of-a-kind pieces and also pieces she enjoys making multiple versions of. All of these go onto her website or Instagram page, where they can be admired and purchased. And that they are! Her Instagram account, Handcrafted.by.Evelyne, has over 6,000 followers!
Evelyne credits her grandmother as her inspiration. She grew up in York, PA, and remembers the size and scope of her grandmother’s gardens. “She had a huge flower garden, and she also grew grapes,” Evelyne said, “and she used the vines to make wreaths that she would embellish. I was always crafty,” she continued, “and I helped my grandmother with the wreaths. I was the only granddaughter, and that was our thing. She passed away a few years ago,” Evelyne said with clear nostalgia and love in her voice. “When we were cleaning up her house,” she shared, “we came across a whole bunch of vine wreaths she’d made. I took them all.”
How did Evelyne’s early experiences with her grandmother lead to the Hudson Valley Wreath Company?
After college, Evelyne was teaching elementary school near Baltimore, MD. It was there she met her husband, Chris, a police officer whose family is from the Hudson Valley. When they decided to marry, she moved with him to Hopewell Junction. That was in 2015. They have three daughters – Gaelen, a stepdaughter (or “bonus daughter” as Evelyne said), who’s 19 and just started college; Amelia, who will be eight in December; and Audrey, who will be two in December.
Starting the business
“I was a stay-at-home mom looking for something to do,” Evelyne said. “I was sewing clothes for the girls, and in 2019 I started a business called Handcrafted by Evelyne, which was mostly outfits for kids. I was getting orders, but I was getting antsy doing the same things over and over. Around that time I went looking for wreaths to decorate our home, and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. It occurred to me that I could make wreaths myself,” she said.
So she did. It was fun, and she started inviting friends over for wreath-making parties. They all had a great time, and her friends encouraged Evelyne to do more. She started selling her wreaths at Crossroads Gift Shop in Hopewell Junction, and she was also selling them on Etsy.
“COVID came along,” she explained, “and I was still making wreaths and other things for people. With some extra time on my hands, I decided to go whole hog, and I created the website so I could be my own store. It launched in the fall of 2021 and it’s been great. Everything people see on the website is made by me. I can be as creative as I want on my own time, and my customers can be assured of what they’re getting.”
Falling for fall decor
“For the fall,” she continued, “as I plan my new wreath designs, I usually aim to make half of them completely unique, and I won’t replicate them. The other new designs are wreaths that I can make multiples of, plus I will offer customer favorites from previous years. This fall, for example,” she said, “I started the season with about 50 total designs available, and I will continue to make new options throughout the season.”
One of Evelyne’s favorite parts of what she does is working with people to come up with something just for them. About half of her business is custom work. “People often don’t know what they want until they see it,” Evelyne said, “so I experiment with a lot of different things so people can see what’s possible.” When she starts working on custom pieces for people, they can reference things they see on Evelyne’s website or Instagram account so that together they can incorporate the elements they are looking for.
“Every season,” Evelyne said, “I try to create something for everyone – affordable wreaths, big ones, and some that are really over the top.” In addition to what’s offered online, Evelyne does pop-ups at select locations (she was at Nostrano Vineyards in October for their fall festival), and she does workshops for different kinds of groups, including businesses.
Also in October, the Hudson Valley Wreath Company worked with the River Valley Arts Center and other local businesses to host a fundraiser to benefit the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie. At the event, called Gather with Gratitude, Evelyne conducted a Thanksgiving centerpiece workshop. Other businesses donated food, beverages, services, and raffle prizes. It was in the works when we spoke, and she was over-the-top excited about it.
Evelyne is moved and humbled by the response to her pieces. She thrills to see repeat customers at workshops, and loves helping people create beautiful pieces for special and for everyday occasions.
So here come Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two holidays for which her works seem especially meant to be. Thanksgiving pieces shine with fall colors, reminders of the harvest, and messages of gratitude. Her creative juices are flowing, and she knows that Black Friday is when Christmas wreaths will start being ordered in earnest. To prepare, she and her family go to a local tree farm to pick the prettiest firs. They cut several live trees and keep them in buckets on their porch, where the branches stay fresh.
Does she get help from her family? Evelyne laughs with delight. “Amelia is very crafty,” she said. “She loves to collect colors and shapes and make her own stuff. Gaelen was a big help, especially with organizing, sorting, and helping with deliveries.” Audrey has wonderful role models in her sisters and her mom. And Chris? “He’s the muscles,” she said fondly. “He’s always been supportive. He helps me with packing the car and setting up at shows, and he’s great with breaking down all the cardboard that comes with this business,” she said with a laugh.
“When I do events I do them on weekends, and I choose ones at which the kids can participate in some way, where they feel comfortable,” Evelyne said. “I’m a mom first, and I want flexibility for my family. I like being able to make my own schedule, and I have always loved crafting, so this is a seamless fit for my life.”
I asked Evelyne if she had role models in addition to her grandmother. Martha Stewart came to mind. “Everything Martha Stewart makes is beautiful,” she said. “Social media is a big part of creating things these days,” she added. “I like to just look around. I actually follow a lot of accounts for fresh flower farms. I love looking at different flower colors and arrangements, and I connect with the whole process of cultivation. I also look at magazines to get a sense of what’s in style,” she said.
Okay, now that you know about Evelyne and the Hudson Valley Wreath Company, get busy scrolling through her Instagram and website to find where you might participate in a workshop or see what she has available for purchase. Contact her if you want custom pieces to ring in the holidays or any days. Everything on the website of the Hudson Valley Wreath Company is available to ship anywhere in the U.S. Happy – beautiful – holidays! •
To learn more about the Hudson Valley Wreath Company, visit thehudsonvalleywreathcompany.com, or check out Evelyne’s Instagram @handcrafted.by.evelyne.