Kandie Lowe, who co-owns the West Jefferson print shop, Holy Shnikies, with her husband Jeff, has spent her life moving around. She started in Michigan where she was born, went to New Jersey, had a stop in Germany, and for the last 11 years has called West Jeff her home.
The couple has raised their daughter there and have cultivated their business where they offer a variety of services from business card printing to political yard signs to walls full of local art — some even done by the owners themselves.
The reason for the moving? Lowe is a veteran of the United States Army and Ohio Army National Guard, having served her country through Operation Shield and Desert Storm during the Gulf War. Her service in the military started right out of high school when she joined the Army at the age of 18. She served four years on active duty and served two and a half of those four years in Germany.
“I drove a tractor-trailer for the 51st Transportation Company at the 181st Trans Battalion in Mannheim, Germany,” Lowe said. “Our primary mission during the war was to haul ammo and when we weren’t doing that, we were helping out with APCs and 113s, which are anti-personnel carriers. They’re like mini tanks.” She also helped deploy units out of several other German cities.
“I spent two and a half wonderful years, about three years, in the service. I was over in Germany, I got to experience life,” she said. Her experience with the military became very beneficial and offered her a lifestyle she really responded to. After coming home, Lowe experienced some tough times and decided not to continue in the Army but instead, she joined the National Guard, serving there for an additional six years.
“I got the GI Bill and the Army College Fund,” she said. She was accepted into The Ohio State University and eventually switched to Franklin University where she received her Bachelors of Science degree.
The transition back to civilian life wasn’t as easy for her.
“Being in college helped me a lot because you didn’t have the acknowledgement that coming back from a military experience takes some time to get back into a civilian mode,” she said. “I had a lot of difficulties at times.” She said she’s grateful for the programs now that help veterans make the transition.
Lowe met Jeff while still in the military, forming a relationship they have now cultivated for more than 20 years and also have a daughter. After leaving the military, Lowe’s first full-time job was managing a mail room for a medical company where she was exposed to the world of printing. Also at that time, Jeff’s mother owned a T-shirt business in West Jefferson which pulled the couple to the community, leading them to open their print shop.
The couple describes the town as having everything they were looking for in a community. The art that they display on the walls even comes from local artists, so they try to give back where they can.
Lowe also talked about selling photo prints of some of their artwork to raise money for the VFW. Since leaving the military, she hasn’t really been involved with veterans organizations.
“It’s something I would maybe like to do eventually,” she said. “Do my part however I can.”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.