Domer Diaries

My Domer Diary: Annie Johnson

Taking Care of Students and South Bend

Editor’s Note: Domer Diaries is the newest storytelling series from the Alumni Association where members of the Notre Dame family tell their stories in their own words. This week’s Domer Diaries entry comes from Annie Johnson '01, a South Bend-based entrepreneur whose company, Take Care South Bend, creates curated care packages for college students and hospitality bundles featuring local products and businesses.

Name: Annie Johnson
Class Year: 2001
Residence Hall: Welsh Family Hall
Major: Biological Sciences
Student Activities: Pre-Vet Club, R.A., Celebration Choir
Occupation: Entrepreneur & Artist
Location: South Bend
Local Notre Dame club or affinity groups: Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley

What prompted you to start your small business, Take Care South Bend?

Several years ago, I made a commitment to shop local for holiday gifts. As I got more into the “shop local” habit, I discovered wonderful people and products, and it became a passion of mine to start sharing these businesses with others. I realized that I could design a business model that could lift up other small local businesses. Now, I create gift baskets, care packages, and subscription boxes featuring products from local shops and artists. Some of the gifts are part of my program, "Small Businesses, Big Hearts," and their sale contributes money to local nonprofits such as La Casa de Amistad or the LGBTQ Center. I consider Take Care to be part business, part service project, and my love letter to South Bend.

What would you love to see in your own care packages while at ND?

As a student, I received a care package designed for finals week, but it felt really impersonal, like a mini frisbee and chips, that sort of thing. When my mom would send a box of my favorite things from home or some seasonal decorations for my dorm, that would feel like home. Take Care South Bend curates a gender-neutral subscription box of goodies for college students each month with consumable products that will be used instead of cluttering up a small apartment or dorm. Parents can also have a custom box made specifically for their student, save on postage, and reduce the carbon footprint of sending care.

What is your favorite Notre Dame memory or campus tradition and why?

I can't pick just one! I truly loved serving my section as an R.A. I would make tea in my hot pot for girls when they were down, deliver candy and whiteboard messages for kids before a big test, and it made my senior year really fun and special. I also have the best memories of that first warm spring day when we'd all take blankets out on the quads and read and relax in the sunshine. Student life was often so stressful, but that always felt like a breath of respite. As a parent in town, it was so much fun taking our kids to watch marching band rehearsal back when it was in the parking lot!