Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and we are featuring stories about local, eco-conscious businesses. Send us information about yours.
Local Ecard Business Promises No Cheeseball
“Switching to paperless online greeting cards is easy. It’s a time-saving, and a money-saving way for people to cut down on paper waste. But folks shy away from ecards for two main reasons—perceived fear of contracting a virus and cheesiness,” says Williamsburg entrepreneur Nancy Rielle, and both issues are addressed in her and her cousin Leigh Copin’s two-year-old business VerveCards.com.
VerveCards was born January 16, 2008 when Nancy was wrapping up a disappointing hunt for a belated birthday ecard. “This one doesn’t totally suck,” she thought, as she pressed “send” on a cartoon snail trailing a “Sorry I’m Late” banner. But she’d compromised and was mortified to be sending something so lame. Rielle saw a need.
So, she dialed up her cousin Leigh, a talented graphic designer and mother of two—”Wanna start an ecard company?” “Yeah, sure,” yawned Leigh, groggy from a power nap with her daughter, hardly realizing the serious venture she would suddenly be a part of. VerveCards was born!
What was the motivation to start it?
We liked the convenience and eco-friendliness of ecards, but as visual artists and “wordies,” nothing online suited our taste. We wanted bold color, punchy graphics and intelligent humor—when we couldn’t find anything like that online, we created it ourselves.
How’s it going?
People really seem to be loving our in-your-face designs and cheeky wit—and the ease of future scheduling, or sending at the very last second. Busy Moms are our biggest fans, but we’ve been getting e-fan mail from all sorts of people all over the world.
Our biggest success to date was being included in About.com’s list of Top Ten Favorite Ecard Sites—with all the big guns—in 7 categories. Their reviewer really gets our humor and visuals and loves the simplicity and security of our linkless format
It’s been a thrilling ride—a flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants MBA! We’ve joined three entrepreneur groups that we’re learning so much from: SavortheSuccess.com, a nationwide network of women business owners with a very active NYC chapter; The First Million Club, which is run by serial entrepreneur, Mike Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur; and Williamsburg/Greenpoint’s own North Brooklyn Breakfast Club, which meets the last Friday of every month at Enid’s for breakfast and networking. There’s an amazing amount of entrepreneurial innovation going on in this neighborhood right now—the New York Times even wrote about us recently, and NBBC membership has soared.
Is the electronic card business a growing business in general?
Yes—and all the major paper greeting card companies have gotten on board with it – they’ve had no choice. Ecard sites are part of a growing trend that O Magazine even picked up on with their list of “100 Things That Are Getting Better” in the February issue—“ecards” was #14! And quality ecard boutiques like VerveCards.com are upping the ante style-wise.
Who are the artists designing your cards?
Including Leigh, we have four fantastic designers, Angela Parrotta, Lisa Oliver and Jennifer DeAngelis. Like New Yorker cartoons, each ecard has the designer’s initials on it.
Our process is very collaborative: Nancy comes up with the copy; she and Leigh tweak it together; then the very best sound bites get posted to a shared Googledoc for the designers, including Leigh, to choose from. Designs are submitted to Nancy, the “Critiquinator,” for review, and they get batted back and forth until they’re sufficiently Vervacious.
What are the costs of the cards?
An unlimited number of ecards can be sent for an annual membership fee of $14.95/year.
What sets your business apart from others?
In addition to the high quality graphics, we offer security and speed—with our unique linkless format, ecards appear right in one’s email, so there’s no virus risk from clicking on an unknown link. There’s also no waiting for a link-back to a home site to retrieve your ecard, or waiting for the ecard to load.
Another important aspect to our business is the “set it, then forget it” future scheduling feature—and personal Ecard History to keep it all straight—mean one will never miss another important date again.” In our quest for a quick, quality, linkless experience, we’ve pumped up the color, graphics and attitude to make up for the absence of Flash components—like music and animation—that require a link-back to a home site,” says Copin. “Security, speed and peace of mind are high on our list of priorities, since many folks simply won’t click on an unknown link—and many who do dislike waiting for the site, then the ecard to load and go through its paces. By addressing common concerns and reservations, we hope more people will make the switch to ecards this Earth Day,” says Rielle.