All Things Pets

Carol Gardner and Zelda — Wisdom to Live By

When Carol Gardner was 52, she was not in a good place.

She was going through a divorce and had depression. She also had no job and had massive debt.

But a friend gave her some excellent advice: “Get a therapist or get a dog.”

Gardner chose the latter and brought home a four-month-old English bulldog puppy — because English bulldogs make her laugh. She named the pup Zelda.

Zelda become a loyal companion — and she soon sparked an idea for Gardner.

Gardner entered a Christmas card contest at a local pet store with Zelda dressed in a Santa costume. Beneath the photo, Gardner wrote the caption, “For Christmas, I got a dog for my husband… good trade, huh?”

Something extraordinary happened: Together, they won!

Zelda Wisdom — Gardner’s Next Chapter

Gardner sent the card as a holiday greeting to family and friends. They all gave overwhelmingly positive reviews.

From that, Zelda Wisdom, LLC, was born, and Gardner was on her way to her second act!

Gardner started the company with $40,000 from credit cards, hired a top-notch photographer, launched the line with 24 cards, and convinced a printer to print 1,000 cards each on 90-day terms.

From her experience as a creative director in advertising, she knew to how use the power of publicity to get the attention of local media.

When it came time to test the Washington State and Oregon markets, retailers were beating down her door for Zelda cards!

Zelda Wisdom Why Bee Normal
Zelda says: Why Bee Normal?

After the success of the test market, she decided to go big! Gardner participated in the New York Stationary Show.

She was in the basement with all the other entrepreneurs but wanted to stand out and be different. So, she bought a full-page ad in the show’s catalog with an enormous photo of Zelda dressed as a bee: “Why Bee Normal?”

Zelda was the star of the show!

Next came a licensing agreement and television interviews. Since then, the duo has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Animal Planet, CNBC’s Power Lunch, CNN Live Today, and more.

Witty Words of Wisdom from a Pair of Underdogs

Zelda Wisdom Day to Day Dogmas Graphic Zelda Wisdom Inc. is now an international greeting card, gift, and book line, offering such advice as “Life is tough… wear a helmet,” “Enjoy life… this is not a rehearsal,” and “Go braless… it pulls the wrinkles down.”

Zelda allows us to laugh at ourselves and recognize that things could be worse.

“At the core of Zelda Wisdom is humor and healing,” Gardner said. “Zelda always makes me laugh. We both started as underdogs, but we are proof you don’t have to be thin, rich, young, or wrinkle-free to be successful. You don’t have to be perfect.”

Gardner advises other later-blooming entrepreneurs that it’s never too late to start. Keep your mind open and find out what will make you happy. Be daring, different, smart, and wise. Test your idea, research it, gather a good team, and then go for it.

“I do not think I had the chops to start something new in my 20s,” Gardner said. “I was looking for a job that paid me a salary. But, in my 50s, that was a different story. I was able to weather the storm and tap into my background as a creative director in advertising to combine the visual of Zelda along with my different styles of wit and wisdom.”

Carol Gardner and Zelda of Zelda Wisdom, LLC
Carol Gardner and Zelda of Zelda Wisdom, LLC

The three Zeldas have inspired Gardner with their funny, sweet faces. Now, she looks forward to sharing many more adventures with her new bulldog puppy, Zelda (Z-4).



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