Gov. Carney gets firsthand look at JennyGems

Custom design business owner is Delaware Small Business Woman of the Year
March 29, 2023

Jenny McMillan, president of JennyGems, is proud to show off her business, and she got a chance March 23 to take Gov. John Carney and representatives from the Small Business Administration on a tour.

Even though the business is relocating and is not yet at 100% production, some employees were working so the governor got a firsthand look at the unique business, which makes home decor items, signs and much more.

“This is really a hall-of-fame-type tribute,” Carney said as he presented a proclamation to McMillan as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2022 Delaware Women-Owned Small Business Person of the Year. It’s also National Women’s Month.

“The best part of this story is all the work outsourced to China is now made right here in Georgetown,” Carney added.

JennyGems, which was operating out of a building on Route 9 near Harbeson for six years, has moved to Delaware Coastal Business Park at 21348 Cedar Creek Ave. near Georgetown and occupies three buildings.

“We are still working on the buildings and our showroom for the public and wholesalers,” McMillan said. “Our online sales are great, and we are expanding locally and also expanding our product line.”

While sticking to wooden signs as the main product, the company now makes custom cornhole boards, wedding and events signs, tumblers, bottle openers and magnets, outdoor signs and Delaware decor. Custom is the keyword because everything they make is designed and manufactured at the Georgetown facility.

As she talked about the challenges they have faced, McMillan heaped praise on Bill Pfaff, Sussex County’s director of economic development. “He has been our biggest cheerleader and helped us through a lot of roadblocks. I don’t know what we would do without him,” she said.

McMillan and her husband, Dave, are not strangers to overcoming obstacles to reach a goal. In 2015, they opened JennyGems and sold items online. They sold their home in Newark and moved to Millsboro and leased building space on Route 9 near Harbeson. Jenny had been laid off from her job at MBNA America.

The couple began by having their designs manufactured in China. After being affected by the trade wars in 2019 and the inability to find a U.S. supplier to keep up with demand, the couple used all their resources to purchase manufacturing and wood shop equipment. Their timing was not good as the equipment arrived the week before the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency. Their sales went to nothing. They were forced to lay off all of their workers.

But they didn’t quit and started an aggressive social media campaign with the Made in the USA theme. They also began offering inspirational gift products for nurses on the front lines of the pandemic. The couple’s business took a giant leap and orders began flowing in. The couple recalled all of their employees and hired 12 more.


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