About The Project Cottage

Welcome to The Project Cottage

In 2010, Colleen Gardner started The Project Cottage® in the coastal town of Wilmington, NC. After years of creating gifts and home accents for various interior design jobs, she realized that designing was her real passion. Requests from friends, family and the local community gave her the confidence to take the leap and make these designs available to the public.

Colleen’s business management background, interior design experience and entrepreneurial mindset wasn’t the only driving force behind the quick success of The Project Cottage®. Colleen often turned to her best friend and next door neighbor, Allyson McFarlane, an accomplished graphic designer with a BS in communications from Cornell. Not only did Allyson help her with her graphic needs but spent countless hours brainstorming with Colleen about the company’s future offering invaluable input about marketing and branding.  At the time, Allyson’s consulting was repaid through a barter system which mostly involved cheap wine and a lot of laughs!

Within a year, The Project Cottage’s customer base was steadily growing and Colleen was having new ideas about the direction of the company. She knew that Allyson’s graphic art background paired with her woodworking skills gave them an edge that would set them apart from other designers in the industry. Their ability to work and design together was not only fun and easy but would produce collections that were more geared towards the licensing industry.

Colleen approached Allyson with a 5 year business plan that would take the company to a whole new level.  The proposed partnership would focus on getting The Project Cottage® front and center in the marketplace. The overall plan had two phases. First, continue to grow the online retail business selling and manufacturing only their original designs. The increasing desire for handmade goods paired with design savvy customers was proven through increasing sales on Etsy and the success of the “Design Your Own” functionality on their website, theprojectcottage.com. The retail business would provide income, a test market and keep them designing on a regular basis.  The second phase was to create collections geared toward the art and home accent licensing industry. This would enable The Project Cottage to grow quickly as a brand and for home decor industry leaders to license and manufacture the designs.

In the spring of 2012, Allyson quit her job and partnered with Colleen. Together they have built their business and are so excited for the promising future of The Project Cottage®. With similar values and interests, the love and support of their husbands and kids and ability pursue this venture together, Colleen and Allyson will both tell you that they are truly “living the dream!”


Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you, use the contact form below:


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To learn more about possible licensing opportunities with The Project Cottage®, click here.