Evolution of a Greeting Card Line

By Carolyn Edlund

From first concept through end sale, here is how one entrepreneur created a line of greeting cards.

 

Barbara Kollen

About a year ago, Barb Kollen started with a seed of an idea, and a challenge by her church group to put her dreams into action to accomplish something big. This initial desire, combined with persistent effort and focus, has grown into the Inspir-Actions line of greeting cards, which has recently launched and has wholesale customers already.

 

 

What Barb had to start with was the ability to write well, expressing soulful and inspirational messages that touched other people. She wrote in a wise, authentic voice, penning a large variety of sentiments that could be used as the basis of a card line.

In order to create a well-rounded line of greeting cards that would work well as a collection, her sentiments would need to span all of the major categories, such as birthday, friendship, sympathy, anniversary, thank you, etc. Sentiments would need to be balanced properly, according to buying preferences. Birthday cards are one of her largest categories, as they are the most popular sentiment.

What Barb didn’t have worked out was the visual part of her line. She had originally used ribbons and other items collaged on handmade cards, but realized that these would not work well for her if her business was going to grow. So she chose to scrap the look and develop something new.

 

greeting cards

 

Although Barb is artistically talented and even exhibits her paintings, she felt that it was impractical to paint different pictures for every card. What she needed was a consistent signature style to her images so that the line would flow well, and be identifiable as the Inspir-Actions collection. Harkening back to her childhood, she remembered a simple craft project she had done – melting crayons inside wax paper to create a collage effect.

She purchased encaustic paints, and worked carefully to use them in chosen colors for the palette that would mark her line. Each image she created was a sophisticated abstract, filling the background on which her richly written messages would rest.

Choosing fonts was next, and many hours were spent positioning the text exactingly on the background. Each element was carefully planned to work well together. When displayed, her cards would present in a colorful array like a field of flowers that harmonized.

 

greeting card

 

The Inspir-Actions line contains 90 cards, which is a very healthy number. Barb realizes that as sales are made, some will rise to the top and be bestsellers, while others will fall into the middle or be slow sellers, which can be discontinued. Knowing that, she is staying lean on inventory as she introduces her line and starts to fill orders.

To get started selling, she needed to understand her target market, and where her cards would sell best. Her intention was to create a wholesale line, and not to offer her cards retail at first.

Her messages are spiritual, but not scriptural, so Christian bookstores were not a prospective market. New age stores, bookstores, general gift and boutiques could work well. Her writing, which is insightful and kind, appeals to women. Barb’s experience so far indicates that a mindful woman would be her target customer.

 

woman with greeting card rack

 

Cards present and sell better when grouped together as a collection, shown full-face on a spinner rack rather than in a large in-line fixture. Therefore, she planned to offer display racks with signage that included her brightly colored logo. Each pack of cards would have a branded header card included with the sentiment listed, which is crucial to maximizing sales.

The greeting card industry is a mature business, and the way cards are bought and sold hasn’t changed much over the years. Barb packages her cards in half dozens, which is standard. Considering the colorful palette she used on her cards, she chose white envelopes to go with them. The card stock would be sturdy, with quality envelopes that had good weight and texture.

 

greeting cards

 

The back of each card is also important. Barb includes her logo, a statement about the collection, and “Printed in USA using recycled paper” which are selling points. A price and barcode is printed on all cards, essential for many retailers. Her cards sell for $3.95 retail, which was calculated with her expenses in mind, and to provide a profit.

Inspir-Actions cards are suitable for framing because the inspirational messages work well as wall décor. They are printed in a 5” x 7” size to fit perfectly into a pre-cut 8″ x 10″ mat. This means she can also sell them as framed art, or they can be framed by the customer.

The line completed, Barb turned her attention to designing a well-constructed website with good functionality and appeal. She worked with an Australian-based web designer who had a template she liked and was affordable.

 

greeting card

 

First, she pored over many other greeting card sites to find aspects that she liked, and chose the best of each that made sense for her own line. Features include a shopping cart, FAQ page, and bestseller package options. An online catalog can be viewed or even printed out by store buyers or reps. Social media icons for Facebook and Pinterest are on the site. She plans to build a presence on those platforms too.

What’s next? Evaluating trade shows for exhibiting her line, and recruiting sales reps. With a few stores already ordering from her, she is starting to publicize and build on this beginning to grow her business.

 

Greeting Cards

 

Throughout the evolution process of her card line, Barb Kollen depended upon the support of her church community, her network and a mentor to help her deal with the many details, and frustrations, of becoming a greeting card entrepreneur. There is still learning ahead, but she has accomplished much in turning her dreams into reality.

 

 Looking for strategies for your own greeting card line? Artsy Shark founder Carolyn Edlund offers consulting services for artists and greeting card entrepreneurs. Learn more here

Comments

  1. Barbara’s card are beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing your journey and encouragement!!! I make handmade greeting cards and many times have wondered if I was on the right path with our message.

    Thanks Again!!!

    Aurie

  2. I am delighted that you like my cards! Patience and perseverance have been key. Good luck!

  3. Super amazing greeting cards!!! You have a very simple design yet it stands out! I admire your creativity and your patience to come out with a very beautiful greeting cards.

  4. Thanks for your kind words! I am now matting some of the cards to be sold as art for holiday gifts. It is a very exciting time for me!

  5. Enjoyed reading this article and I wish you much success. My question is, how did you get the actual background design and fonts on to the cards? I can’t seem to find any information on how to get a design idea from your imagination on to an actual card? What is the process? What are the steps? I would appreciate any insight.

  6. I do my paintings in encaustic, then scan the images into my computer. From there I move them into photoshop. In photoshop I crop, correct, and add the fonts I have chosen for my line. After I am done, I send the finished images to a professional for printing. It takes time but is worth the effort.

    Glad you enjoyed the article! Hope this helps.

    • Thank you so much for your reply. It helped tremendously! Now I have a direction. Your story is inspirational; I’m so glad you took the time to share it.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have made greeting cards in the past but I am now working on an actual line that stems from a concept so your story has really helped me. Your cards are beautiful I am big on color and they give an ethereal feeling.

  8. Barb,
    This is such a great story! Thank you for sharing. It’s inspiring me to get mine done even quicker… The design part is done, and now I’m trying to figure out the best options for fulfillment and distribution/mailing. What resources would you recommendation for both retail and wholesale options? Keep up the great work!

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