Imagine waking up every morning next to your spouse and then running into them each day at the office. What might seem like a nightmare for some is a dream come true for Eva and Joe Barsin. The Barsins, graphic designers who met while attending Kent State University, have worked together the majority of their lives so starting their own company, Citizen Pride, was a no-brainer. Run out of their Arnold home, Citizen Pride was created in 2013 and specializes in Maryland themed flags, note cards, magnets and more. Working together, they say, is a breeze. No one is banished to the couch or the dog house (cats are their pet of choice). “My friends almost don’t want to hear that,” Eva said. “We do get along.” Joe credited a laid back atmosphere to the couples’ work environment. “The No. 1 thing for me is our humor,” he said. “We’re always laughing at the same time. We’re a close team.” The Barsins, parents of 13-year-old Robby and 11-year-old James, have a date night once a week and go out with their friends when they need time apart. Then it’s back to business. They divvy up the logistical tasks, administrative tasks and update the Citizen Pride website and Facebook account. Joe works on the design of the Citizen Pride products, and Eva puts the finishing touches on by picking out the right colors. The products are made in North Carolina. “If we both approve of it, that’s when we know it’s solid,” Eva said. Flags adorned with red or blue crabs surrounded by the Maryland flag and a map of the state, are their top sellers, although they also make products with a raven, oriole, terrapin and rockfish. “What I sensed right away when I came here in ’92 was the love of the bay,” said Joe, a native of Ohio. “The average person in Maryland is so in touch with the bay and nature and that kind of comes to focus with the crab — it’s an iconic symbol of love of the bay.”
Joe said Citizen Pride sells eight times more crab products than any other Maryland themed product — but Annapolitans also love their dogs. Citizen Pride crafts black lab and Chesapeake Bay retriever flags.
There’s another breed customers crave.
“Everyone wants a golden retriever, so that’s next on the list,” Joe said.
Citizen Pride products are sold in 130 stores in Maryland, Amazon.com and at www.citizenpride.com , but work by the Barsins can also be seen throughout the city.
Under JEB Design, the couple’s print, website design and illustration company, they created Maryland’s “Treasure the Bay” license plate in 2004.
They’ve also created the graphics for the Eastport Yacht Club Light Parade, the Annapolis Film Festival, First Sunday Arts Festivals and the book cover for “Crab Decks and Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay.”
The team has wrapped up their graphic for the 2016 Annapolis Film Festival and they hope to create Ocean City themed products.
In the meantime, they’ll continue creating their top selling flags.
“It’s like an honor every time we sell one,” Eva said.