When Chaya Herman was a teenager she and her best friend were shopping in a Hallmark store for a greeting card. “Wandering through aisle after aisle of lame greetings, we were at a complete loss. Every card looked the same and conveyed the same sappy, generic message. ‘Where’s the dysfunctional family card section?!?!?’ I wondered secretly. Over the years I noticed some changes in the greeting card market…but still nothing that hit the nail on the head. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands and create the cards that I had always longed for but could never find.” A small business loan from Community Capital New York enabled her to do just that.
Dented Can Greetings’ cards are honest. Brutally honest. Greetings that express the real truth, because what we present to the world on the outside is frequently not what we are experiencing on the inside. “Let’s face it, at times we all feel different, self-centered, or fantasize about saying what’s really on our mind.” For life’s perfect moments that are less than perfect, you now have an outlet to state your true feelings. And a way to laugh, because the truth is often funny. Take the Dearest Love card. On the cover it reads: To my Dearest Love: I’ve never felt this way before. You’re everything that I’ve ever wanted. With you, I’ve found the one. Open the card, and the inside reads: But if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just say the same stuff to the next person who comes along.
And in the spirit of brutal honesty, it would be great if you can shop her cards online, http://dentedcangreetings.com/index.php?cPath=2&expand=1
How did you get into the business of designing greeting cards?
As a graphic design student at SUNY Purchase’s School of Art + Design, all students had to complete a senior project in order to graduate. Remembering my experience as a teen I saw this as the opportunity to create the greeting card line I had always longed for. They were so popular that they disappeared from my display racks, leaving me with less inventory to display but the thought that perhaps I was on to something.
How did you get your business off the ground?
Door to door. I actually shopped my product.
How did your business evolve?
With a small business loan from Community Capital New York I was able to invest in the New York Gift Show, creating inventory and card racks to show and sell my own branded line. Recycled Paper Greetings picked up my line, and in turn sold them to Target. It’s a thrill to see my cards there, and it generates residual income. Community Capital’s investment in me crystallized my belief in myself, and catalyzed my business. Staff continues to work with me, helping me focus on growing my business, even when I took a year’s hiatus to waitress and support my infant son.
What did you wish you knew?
That the 6.25 X 6.25 size of my cards would hold me back. I loved the square contour, and the difference it offers. But it meant that retailers, small gift and card shops, had to invest in special display racks to sell them. Many did. But it made it hard for larger retailers. I had to downsize to the typical card stock size for Target and rethink.
When did you know you’d arrived?
When Target reorders, and my cards sell out. When SUNY Purchase, my alma mater, asked me to design a special line of cards for the Alumni Relations department to send to graduates who succeed.
Expanding into more retailers, and expanding my online customized business, producing more truthful versions of wedding, bar-mitzvah and sweet 16 invitations and RSVPs, graduation cards, and thank you notes. Oh and definitely baby cards. I recently had a beautiful baby boy 9 months ago and I am acquiring a plethora of material!