By Anne Szustek
Photo by Dylan Isbell


Entrepreneur Nancy Rielle at her Williamsburg work station, where she telecommutes with her business partner and cousin Leigh Copin (in Florida).

Broadcasting straight out of south Williamsburg is, a card shop that has a fresh approach to greeting design and delivery.

“I read something that Americans buy some seven billion paper greeting cards each year—enough to fill a 10-story football field,” says Nancy Rielle, co-founder and 18-year Williamsburg resident. But the paid card site offers much more than a way to go green—even though it does offer cards celebrating that milestone. She quotes Manhattanite fan Herbert G., “ is the Missoni of eCards.”

Verve has received glowing reviews among mommy bloggers, green-conscious media, and longstanding news sites alike., run by the New York Times, ranked as among the top e-card sites for a number of holidays, including Valentine’s Day, New Year’s, Independence Day and Christmas.

Those with a more “Seinfeld” sense of the December holiday season can send Festivus greetings—or air their grievances, as it were. And for parents out there, on May 4, suggested as a hip Mother’s Day card option “off the traditional Mother’s Day track.” Indeed, two of the site’s best-selling cards to date have been Mother’s Day cards, each with a North African twist: one with a hieroglyphics-inspired font, the other evoking Casablanca. Also channeling the exotic, is one of the cards for Father’s Day 2010: a card playing off James Bond and his catch phrase “shaken, not stirred.”

Co-founded in 2008 by cousin team Rielle and Leigh Copin (who works out of her Florida home) the pair packs a one-two card design punch. Rielle is the self-dubbed “word guru,” while Copin heads up the sleek, geometric-heavy graphics. Rielle, having worked as a painter for some 20 years, also lends her visual touches, as does a group of artists the co-founders have on call, who create designs based on a document listing phrases penned by Rielle. The graphic and literary artists volley back and forth with critiques.
“I’ve only had three holes-in-one,” says Rielle of her design vetting process. “I’m really picky.”

The result is clean style devoid of ecard Java animation associated with an aunt’s email forward circa 1999.

One such example is one of Verve’s anniversary cards. A design of late-60s-inspired silhouette of a couple facing each other, is emblazoned with “’Twas kismet when you kids met…” The couple is purposely unisex in appearance, making the cards GLBT friendly as well, Rielle pointed out during our interview. According to the co-founder, it all comes out of anticipating their fans’ desires.

Rielle says, “We’re always trying to respond to our customers’ wishes.” In the pipeline on that front, adoption day and sympathy/condolence cards, which she says will be “heartfelt with simple graphics.” So the business itself can expand, is also seeking angel investors, drawing a worldwide response. One decidedly more curious proposal to that end is for a Spanish-language card site specifically for Colombia.

Yet while going global, as is the nature of online business, also keeps it local. Rielle is an active member of the newly formed North Brooklyn Breakfast Club. Consisting of freelancers and business owners based out of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the group meets monthly at Greenpoint bar restaurant Enid’s to chit chat over coffee and present their businesses over “friendly faces,” says Rielle.

A membership is $14.95 annually which includes an unlimited number of e-cards. Also available for a short period, a 2-for-1 membership deal.